Guitar World is an excellent resource for guitar players at every level. The magazine’s mix of instructional materials, tablatures, sheet music, and interviews consistently provide a wealth of information. I’m not sure if they will ever be able to top their new Alchemical Guitarist DVDs though. The 24 lessons contained on these two DVDs feature some of the best instructional material I have ever seen.
“The Alchemical Guitarist” was a Guitar World column written by Richard Lloyd—he no longer writes there. Lloyd’s biggest claim to fame is as a member of Television. Although Tom Verlaine gets the lion’s share of credit for the band’s success, the contributions of Richard Lloyd were an extremely important factor. His is the other guitar voice we hear throughout their oeuvre, including their finest moment, the nine-minute “Marquee Moon.”
The DVDs are an extension of Lloyd’s column. I was curious as to how he would come across as an instructor. As it turns out, he is a natural in front of the camera, and his relaxed style puts one at ease right away. Learning to play the guitar is not exactly easy, but Lloyd manages to demystify the instrument for us. It is the type of approach I wish my instructor had used when I was starting out. I took a few lessons, and quickly lost interest. Needless to say, I never got very good. But I have continued to play, and The Alchemical Guitarist has given me a whole new perspective on the instrument.
The cover of The Alchemical Guitarist modestly describes itself with such phrases as “The Ultimate DVD Guide!” and “Fretboard Secrets Unlocked!” Each DVD contains 12 lessons, which last around 10 minutes each, giving us about two hours of material on each volume. Put the discs into your computer, and you are will find a wealth of written music as well.
The lessons are quite self-descriptive. Some of the more intriguing ones on the first volume are: “Demystifying the Modes with the Mystical Major-Scale Diagram,” “Magic Circles: The Cycle of Fourths & Fifths,” “The Dark Stuff: The Modes in Order of Descending Brightness,” “Breaking Free with Pentatonic Trees,” and “Hexatonic Blues Scales.” Some favorites from the second volume include: “Riding Satan’s Tritone,” “Walking Bass on the Guitar,” “The Secret Behind the Circle of Fourths/Fifths Progressions,” and “Using Pentatonic Bends to Make You Playing Mistake Free.”