Sunday, January 19, 2003
Review: "Guitar: A Complete Guide for the Player" by Dave Hunter
"Guitar: A Complete Guide for the Player" by Dave Hunter ($29.95, Thunder Bay Press) is a must-have book for any beginning guitarist. The publisher bills it as the most comprehensive manual for the guitar player ever produced. That may be a bit of a stretch, but the book comes pretty close.
Aside from the information, it's a gorgeous, oversized book with plenty of color illustrations. But the true strength of the book is its content.
"Guitar: A Complete Guide for the Player" opens with a brief history of acoustic and electric guitars, featuring photos of some of the most popular guitars like the Gibson Les Paul and the Fender Stratocaster, as well as a few oddballs, like the Martin Backpacker, the Burns Bison and the Parker Fly.
From there, it goes through some subjects that a lot of other guitar manuals ignore. One chapter in the book covers basic maintenance of guitars and amplifiers. With detailed illustrations, this chapter describes how to set the bridge of a guitar, change pickups, even fix that annoying short in the pickup selector switch. If you're a guitar player, you know the one I'm talking about.
Another chapter takes a look at effects pedals. It explains the majority of effects available and offers schemes to help you get the best out of your stomp boxes and rack systems.
Only after it has offered a wealth of practical information on choosing and caring for your guitar, does it get to playing. As you'd expect, more than three quarters of the book is devoted to playing. It features lessons and background on a wide variety of guitar styles from classical to country to heavy metal.
The lessons are fairly comprehensive, covering ideas about the styles from theory to rhythm to lead. These are accompanied by chord illustrations and examples in tablature. Most of the examples are based on the works of specific players and are fairly basic so even beginners can pick them up.
About the only thing that could have made this book better would have been an accompanying tape or CD to let readers hear what the lessons should sound like when played properly.
If you're a beginning guitar player, this book will provide you with a solid foundation to build on. If you've been playing for 20 years, it might not be as helpful - but you never know where you can pick up a new trick.