Sunday, December 18, 2016

Building a Reference Library, Pt. I - General Knowledge Books

One of the things I have always found helpful as a guitar teacher was having a reference library to pull lesson material from. This could include anything from something you would like to teach a student (such as finger-tapping) or just general knowledge you would like to impart (like guitar history). I feel spoiled because years ago when I was building a reference library many music stores used to have a healthy stock of books on various topics from music theory to song books. Today when I go into music stores the stock is rather limited to basic method books and an abundance of tablature song books. 
Since the Internet took over the world I have been disappointed numerous times with a book purchase because I haven’t been able to go through the book a bit before I purchase it. If you’re lucky there are a few pages posted to see what the book is about. Needless to say, I enjoyed thumbing through books prior to purchasing them to get a feel for whether they would help me as a player and teacher; over the years I have amassed a sizable reference library. 

Over the next few posts I am going to discuss some books that I have found extremely helpful which I have referred back to time and time again. It may be old school when everything today is a click away, but a book itself may go more in-depth on a topic you had only a passing interest in, offer insight into a new topic or lead you into a totally new direction. An old friend once said, “If you buy a book and get one new piece of information out of it, then it was worth the money.” 

The books listed below are all purpose general knowledge books – let’s take a look! BTW, if you have some reference books you’ve used and can recommend please feel free to chime in. 



This book has several sections and some of things discussed include: 1) Guitar Innovators: short biographies of well-known and lesser known players. 2) Acoustic Guitars: discusses the anatomy of the instrument and how they are constructed. 3) Electric Guitars: reviews hollow and solid body guitars, pick-ups and instruments by Fender & Gibson. 4) Playing the Guitar: tuning, right & left hand technique, theory, rhythm charts, scales, harmonics, modulation and chord substitution. 5) Guitar Maintenance and Customizing: setting the action, fret care, guitar care, simple repairs and strings. 6) Performance Technology: guitar amplifiers, microphones, mixing consoles, working on-stage and sound processing. 7) Chord Dictionary: the chords are laid out in a “per key” basis with multiple fingers for various chords. 


A dictionary of music is one of those reference books that should be in every musician’s library. The book contains everything from musical periods, notation, tempo markings in all languages one may come across, descriptions of musical forms as well as theoretical concepts. 


A wonderful book which uses visuals to a great extent to help the reader understand various guitar & music related topics. There are three main sections to the book: 1) The Guitar – which has a timeline of instruments and discusses all types of guitars. 2) Playing the Guitar – covering topics such as playing position, alternate picking, playing the blues, the modal system, melody over chords, transposing chords and chord scale relationships. 3) Sound and Amplification - which discusses such topics as combo amps, rack mounted systems and specific amplifiers like the Vox AC30. 


A wonderful book covering guitar history from the pre-twentieth century guitars to “modern” instruments made by Paul Reed Smith and Emmett Chapman. All variations of guitars are talked about: classical, flamenco, steel string, resonator, archtops, solid body, etc. The book is a whopping 480 pages with pictures and profiles of various makers.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Helpful Links - Affiliate Marketing

Hi Folks, 

I just wanted to let everyone know that I have decided to try something new at The Guitar Teaching Blog - affiliate marketing. You will now find links to various products pertaining directly to the monthly topic and which you might find helpful in your own teaching or playing. As always I hope you find the information useful! 

12 Bar Blues - Walking Bass Line

In previous posts I have discussed different ways to introduce the 12 Bar Blues to students. This month I wanted to talk about using a walking bass line to accompany another guitarist or musician when playing a 12 Bar Blues. Walking bass lines are generally associated with our bass playing brethren, but guitarists can also effectively use them. In its most simplistic form a walking bass outlines (or arpeggiates) the notes of a chord using a quarter note rhythm.

There are many complications when introducing a new concept like a walking bass line to students, such as should the teacher discuss: What it is, Where it comes from, How to change keys or How to develop it; my M.O. (modus operandi) is that students are on a “need to know basis.” Don’t feel the need to burden the student with a great deal of information about what they are doing just get them playing, technical and theoretical information can be slowly introduced during subsequent lessons.


Below is an example of a basic Walking Bass in A with fingerings. I have included accompanying chords not only for the teacher to play along, but also so the student can see how the chords fit with the bass line. Moreover, the teacher and student should swap parts as the student becomes proficient playing both parts individually.