Throughout my life there have been few dreams that I have kept longer, yet done so little about, than the one about being able to play the guitar. Nay, not only play it, but also shred on it, rock out on it, and make it cry for me when I can’t. I’ve had an electric guitar and small amp traveling with me from apartment to apartment (and finally into the office in my house) for over twelve years and still not a single chord memorized. I’ve tried numerous books and a handful of videos (you remember VHS, right?), but I was never able to keep up with it. Now I have a new book, written by one of the definitive voices in the guitar world, the aptly named magazine, Guitar World!
Guitar World presents The Best Instruction Book Ever! is a big, beautifully laid out manual with an accompanying DVD to watch while you move through the chapters. One of the issues I found in earlier books was that they moved too quickly from one skill to the next, not really building off the previous chapters. This manual is tightly structured to lure you along, helping your momentum from chapter to chapter. Of course, you might feel it moves too fast if you don’t take your time and master each section as you go, but that’s your responsibility, not theirs.
The skills are broken out nicely and each chapter is filled with tiny lessons, everything from basic chord identification all the way to advanced tricks like sweep picking and trills. It shows you how to read tablature step-by-step with clear and concise images and figures. Those are helpful since if you just read the text alone, the musical lingo can get overwhelming rather fast.
The accompanying DVD is also useful because you can watch an expert play along with each and every figure. Each lesson you try and master is shown to you so you can not only recognize the sound you’re attempting to make, but you can watch the fingering and grip movements, which is almost more important. Just don’t try to watch the DVD straight through without working in lockstep with the book–it won’t make much sense at all.
Overall, the part of Best Instruction Book Ever! that most resonates with me lies with the snippets of inspiration from some of the most incredible and gifted guitar players in history. From Jimi Hendrix to Joe Satriani, Zakk Wylde to B.B. King, these tidbits of advice on a wide range of elements of guitar playing are both memorable and motivational. Interspersed throughout the book, they provide just the right kick in the butt as you move to the next skill.
Admittedly, I am not a rock god yet, but with this book in hand; I feel I just got a little bit closer.