Gear for Whats Between Your Ears

Guitarists love to talk about gear from every angle, with no stone left unturned.  I have happily entertained conversations in the past about everything from what type of pickups are in my guitars, right down to the hardware; the literal nuts and bolts.  Lately however, I have noticed that one specific gear rabbit hole that every guitarist has gone down is sorely lacking from typical discussions.  I can understand why to a certain extent, as this particular type of purchase is not really part of the whole "gear" scene, in that it is not really part of the signal chain.  And yet in a way it is a crucial part of every guitarist's tone.  So today I thought I'd talk a little bit about some of the books that I have found to be influential in shaping my understanding of the guitar as well as improving my technical proficiency.  

A Modern Method For Guitar

Written by William Leavitt, this is actually the first in a three part series of instructional books that are very comprehensive.  This book is a great foray into the modern world of music theory for any guitarist who is looking to advance beyond playing campfire chords or learning through YouTube videos.

Jimi Hendrix Experience - Axis: Bold As Love Guitar Recorded Versions

This book is a deadly accurate note for note transcription of the entire Axis: Bold as Love record.  It uses written notation accompanied by tabs to show not only what Hendrix played but very importantly how he played it.  This book taught me a whole lot about Hendrix's extensive use of his thumb, and I like to think it gave me a little more insight into what kind of musical decisions he had a tendency to make.  This book is great for anybody who like myself can sometimes find learning Hendrix's solos and guitar parts by ear to be a little too daunting.

Bach Sonatas and Partitas for the Violin

I know what you're thinking.  Yes, this book was written for the violin and not for the guitar, and yes this is a little less than a conventional pick for my favourite guitar books.  However, the music contained in this book is not only playable on the guitar, but it is truly beautiful sounding.  When I began to learn to read notation (at an embarrassingly old age) I was persistently deterred by the lack of readable music at the beginner level that also sounded interesting.  Beginner reading books are always teaching nursery rhymes or really simple songs.  Many of the sonatas in this book are written as straight up 16th notes.  This means if you slow it down, every note has the same time value.  Furthermore, these sonatas are all great sounding no matter how slowly you play them!

The Charlie Parker Omnibook

Charlie Parker's playing is pretty much the Bible of bebop.  If you're looking to advance your jazz playing, look no further.  The vocabulary and linear development of Charlie Parker is the gold standard for jazz playing to this day.  This book is not written for guitarists, but every note in this book can be played by a guitar, and if you're new to reading musical notation, what better way to learn than with the lines of the master himself?

Ted Greene's Chord Chemistry

For those who don't know who Ted Greene was, he was a master of the guitar and a prominent teacher as well.  This book has been on the bookshelves of guitarists all over the world since 1971, and it will open your eyes to the world of possibilities around chord voicings and inversions.  Ted Greene could pretty easily reach some pretty much unplayable chords for most guitarists, so this book will not only stretch your imagination but your wrist and fingers as well!

Modern Chord Progressions: Jazz and Classical Voicings for Guitar

This is the second book in Ted Greene's publications about chord voicings for the guitar.  While Chord Chemistry serves as a comprehensive library of chords for guitarists, this book takes a closer look at the art of voice leading.  This is done by examining how to effectively and artfully move through chord voicings in the context of a larger progression.  I highly recommend this book for any guitarist looking to expand their knowledge of chord inversions and voice leading on the fretboard. 

Thank you for checking out my list of influential books!  All of these books have made a huge impact on my playing and my understanding of the guitar, and I hope that they can do the same for you on your journey.  As always, please don't hesitate to reach out with any concerns or comments.  

    Dave Kirby

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