I got a flyer in the mail for a huge summer sale with Mel Bay books. 70% of the price of select books. Check out the sale here.
So, I bought $120 worth of books for $45! Some of the books I got are pretty sweet and some are losers. Here’s my ratings out of a 5 pick scale:
Jazz Chords for Rock Guitarists- J. Maione. 4 picks. This book would be an excellent tool for getting out of just basic open chords and bar chords and starting to expand your harmonic range. He uses a derivative method which is what I use as well. That means to find more complex chords by altering the basic chords from which they can be derived. It sounds complicated but it is actually really simple.
Mel Bay’s Complete Guitar Improvisation Book– V. Bredice. 2 picks. This book was a huge disappointment. It looks at first like a great method book, but when I got inside it, I found it confusing, poorly explained, and just plain boring. Page after page of notated scales as if playing up and down the harmonic minor scale in all 12 keys would teach you anything about improvising. “Improvisation” should have been completely removed from the title, but even then I would give it a 3 because of how utterly boring and stuffy it was.
Essential Jazz Lines in the Style of Clifford Brown- C. Christiansen and K. Bock. 5 picks!!!! This book is really cool. The first section explains some of the core concepts for playing bebop and the rest of the book contains short lics that can be easily applied to tunes as well as a few full solos that show how the lics can be incorporated. (If you have not yet done any improvisation I would first pick up Jaime Aebersold Vol. 1). I have looked at Essential Jazz Lines…Wes Montgomery, but I would recommend that guitar players go through Clifford Brown first because it is the meat and potatoes of bebop improvisation.
Blues Lead Guitar Method -S. Griffin. 3 picks. This book is pretty old and a little square, but it has some excellent diagrams of the fret board showing minor pentatonics. I would use it with a beginner, but only in connection with some other method books and a lot of practical application.
101 Essential Rock’n’Roll Chord Progressions- L. McCabe. 3 picks. A good resource for beginners to practice playing chords. I bet if you could go through all 101 progressions you would go a long way toward mastering basic rhythm guitar. I would have liked if the progressions were presented from easy to difficult and more rhythms would have been nice.
Comping the Blues –F. Vignola. 4 picks. I liked this book a lot. It has 12 different comping choruses of 12 bar blues changes in different keys designed for guitar. I went through a book similar to this one in college and it really solidified the concept of comping for me at the time. I would even give this book to beginners because the chords are notated and given in chord diagrams (no tab, but I prefer it without). If the book was longer or contained more tunes than just blues, I would have given it a 5. The intro said that these comping patterns are use in a series of books for small ensembles called, Jamming the Blues that include books on improv for drums, bass, piano, etc. which would be cool to use in a classroom.
Music Theory Workbook for Guitar Vol. 1 Intervals and Chord Construction-B. Arnold. 4 picks. I like the idea of a music theory book designed for guitarists who need to understand theory in different ways than other instruments. I personally HATE chord dictionaries, charts and the like because they give you fish without teaching you to catch your own. This book is a nice book to get into that world of understanding chords the way pianist do.