on July 14, 2003
This is probably the best overall book you will find about guitars. It covers quite a bit of material. The details about how a guitar works and how to maintain a guitar are the best I have ever personally read. For example, setting the scale length of a guitar, a very important part of getting a guitar to sound good, is covered in easy to understand terms. It helped me fix some minor tuning issues on my Stratocaster.
This is also an effective book if you are interested in buying a guitar. You will be able to identify problems with most guitars because you will know what to look for. For example, checking for a warped neck. There is a great two page section that gives you the basics about how to look for that kind of defect.
And don't let any of these other reviews convince you that there is not enough theory in here. Granted, if you are brand new to playing or music in general it probably won't make much sense and you will struggle. But if you understand some basic scale and chord structures this book will help you gain a better understanding of how it all works. Odds are that those who do not like the theory in this book either do not like the approach or didn't actually read the entire book.
This book will NOT make you sound like your favorite guitarist. All the great players are great because they practice and the greatest players just have the gift. So do not expect that out of any book or instructor.
Lastly, do not buy the hard cover edition. Get the soft cover/paperback edition. You will want to have this book in front of you when you are working on your guitar or playing it. The only thing that would make this book a 5 star is if you could get it in spiral bound format.
on January 23, 2004
I was given a copy of this book over 20 years ago when I was a teenager. I have yet to find another guitar book that can hold a candle to this one. This book is extremely well thought out with relevant information that makes it a joy to read and learn from. Even a dog-eared copy found at a flea market would still be worth it's weight in gold to a beginning player today. I still find my self rereading it years later. So glad to see it's still in print!
on November 2, 1999
This book has an incredible amount of information, but is more suitable for somebody who already has SOME experience with guitars or is attending a course. The section on learning to play the guitar is packed with information that cannot possibly be followed by a self-teaching beginner. I have spent by now almost one month on 4 pages! If you wish to fully profit from this book, you should also know how to read music notation.
on January 24, 2001
When I first started playing the guitar 2 decades ago, a friend had a copy of an earlier edition of this guide and he gave me the book to use while I was getting started. Using the book, and I mean really reading the book thru thoroughly, I learned a whole lot about the instrument itself and the music that could be produced from the guitar and that really helped my performance as I developed on the instrument.
The book begins with guitar innovators, those guitar players who have had a serious impact on the way the instrument is played, etc. This section was actually fun to read and was quite informative about several guitar players who had influenced my own playing.
The following two sections of the book cover acoustic and electric guitars. These sections detail how each instrument (acoustic and electric) are put together, how to set the action, the various types of each style of guitar, how pick-ups are put together, etc. This is a helpful and technical section which instructs the reader on the ins and outs of the make-up of his instrument.
From here, the book moves into actually playing the instrument. It begins with the beginner, teaching good practicing habits, what to practice, improving fingering, chord progressions, reading tablature, tuning, action, right and left-handed techniques, etc. Then this section moves into chords (with photos), three-chord theory, flatpicking and strumming and other various fingerstyles, barre chords, and even how to transpose songs. Inside this section there is also a sub-section on rhythm guitar, setting tempo, time signatures, using chord charts, time values, etc. Essentially everything you would need to know to be a well rounded guitar player is included (including slide guitar).
The final section deals with the maintenance of the guitar. This section teaches the reader/player all the things that are needed to know about the most difficult maintenance aspects such as how to customize an instrument, to the easiest such as changing your strings. For the electric guitarist, there is a guide to guitar electronics which includes pictures and lists of all the tools you will need, instructions on reading wiring diagrams, actual charts and photos of how an electric guitar is wired, pick-up circuits, etc.
Finally, at the back of the book is a fairly extensive chord dictionary with pictures of how each chord is fingered. This dictionary is very helpful to the player when trying to find the same chord but to know where it is elsewhere on the fret board. Overall, what can I say but that no guitar player, regardless of your experience should be without this definitive guidebook.
on May 11, 1998
My copy of this book is a hand-me-down from my father, a 1982 edition. After thumbing through it a few times when I was younger, I set it down, thinking it too complicated. Just recently I picked it back up and realized that I was wrong! Within its pages are detailed --yet *easy* to understand-- descriptions of scales, modes, recording techniques and more. In the back one can find an extremely detailed chord dictionary, and a few pages before, logical descriptions of how effects work! This book is just about as complete as it gets as a learning tool for all aspects of the guitar. I would recommend, however, supplements to learning each of the subjects covered in the book. It is meant to be a springboard, rather than a definitive text. I gave it an eight due to the fact that it looked so confusing to me earlier on... I wish I had learned all this stuff back then!!--It really helped me understand what I was playing, why certain chords sound good together. If you play, this book is a must!!
on October 26, 1997
While refurbishing a used electric guitar (a Gibson Flying V), I needed circuit diagrams and a friend lent me his copy of The Guitar Handbook. After reading a few pages, I didn't want to give it back! The book's brilliance lies in its economical use of language, diagrams and photos. It's as though Ralph Denyer and his editors are telepathic; knowing exactly what the reader needs and wants to know about guitars and guitar playing. Every page is a gold mine, illuminating topics I thought would be boring -- for example, complex music theory. Truly inspirational, the book unveils the once-daunting mysteries of music, including technical vocabulary, and still manages to stay down to earth. Listen to this quote: "Many guitarists--especially those that are self-taught--are suspicious of scales and regard them as an unattractive and unnecessary discipline. This is untrue." I've been rocking for 20 years and now my 16-year-old daughter is teaching me to sight-read music! One word of advice: if you expect to keep your copy of The Guitar Handbook, don't lend it to a guitar player.
on March 1, 2000
If you are new to the wonderful world of guitars or a seasoned pro there is something in this book for you, from the basics like the anatomy of the guitar, strings, basic setting up etc, to more detailed information like modifying the electrics, effects, amps and so on. It also gives an excellent insight into the whole music making experience, such as PA equipment and basic sound engineering. Also included is a profile of some of the most influential exponents of the guitar in recent years. There is also a detailed section on reading music, chords, harmony and theory as well as basic repairs to your 'axe'. I have had this book for a number of years and I have found it invaluable as a reference guide and light reading, my only critisism is that the bass guitar is only lightly touched upon, but the basic principles apply to the bass anyway. In all I think this is the book to have in your collection whether you dabble, or do it for a living, go out and buy it!
on January 11, 2002
If you're interested in learning about guitars, this book covers a variety of topics, including how to play the guitar, history of the guitar, some early influences, types of guitars, and how they work. Concepts are laid out in an easy-to-read format that gives enough information without including too much detail, so the book never gets boring.
on August 8, 2002
Having recently purchased a Stratocaster with Marshall amp after years of not playing, I needed a refresher on my chosen instrument. What a wealth of information I found in this fabulously illustrated and organized book.
Once I picked this book up I couldn't put it down. It covers about everything you wanted to know that is related to guitar playing. The author gives you a concise bio of 20 different legendary guitar players, a complete background of guitar manufacturing and specs, guitar playing, maintenance and repair, soundstage and recording. You can jump around to whatever chapter interests you and read it in any order you desire. Every single page is filled with information and no paper is wasted in this book.
I challenge anyone to show me a guitar book that does a better job. I've looked at a lot of them and this one is in a class by itself.
on July 19, 2004
I bought this book seven years ago and still find it valid today. It is the most complete guitar book I have come across yet. Not only does it offer insight to guitar design and players who revolutionized it, it also has sections devoted to playing the guitar and maintainence. If you are a beginner I would really suggest this book. It teaches you how to start off and what to look for in a guitar. As you progress as a guitar player, you will find other "guitar primers" you can buy will eventually collect dust on your shelf because their scope is limited. However, with the Guitar Handbook, it covers a wide range of topics. When I got this book I had no idea what some of the stuff in it meant. Over time as I grew as a guitarist it finally started to come together. Sorry for such a long review but it's a really great book and I really recommend it!