on January 15, 2004
...if you're willing to put in the months or years of hard work required to learn any instrument. No teacher or book will make learning the guitar a snap, but they can certainly help, as this book sure does. I started with Guitar for Dummies and primarily relied on it alone for quite some time. It really does serve as a useful, fun foundation for various styles. It's a good reference for basic guitar repairs and maintenance too.
Through a lot of study and practice, and later with the help of other books (but not a teacher), I've progressed in about a year and a half to where I can play the rhythm parts and some lead lines of more than a few rock songs (AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Foo Fighters, Metallica, Weezer, Iced Earth, Megadeth, The Cure, etc.), do some basic blues improv, play passable fingerstyle acoustic, write some of my own tunes and riffs, transcribe tunes by ear, etc. In other words, if you're a total guitar newbie, have hope: you can learn on your own with lots of hard work, a good ear, and good books such as this one. When you first learn how to play along with one of your favorite songs, all the sweat and tears will seem worth it.
My only complaint about Guitar for Dummies is that it neglects jazz guitar, but that's understandable since jazz quickly gets extremely complicated on a theoretical level--not exactly beginner's material. Most beginners want to learn power chords, not the intricacies of improvised reharmonization. Jazz is America's greatest contribution to the music world, though, so it would have been nice to see at least a brief chapter.
(If you mainly want to play rock, make sure to check out Rock Guitar for Dummies after you've progressed a bit with this book. Also, almost any guitarist, regardless of stylistic preference or experience level, can benefit from Troy Stetina's classic Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar.)
on December 21, 2008
When I decided to finally pick up the guitar I did 2 things, first I bought myself a guitar and second I purchased the Guitar for Dummies book. I had no clue what I was doing, this book was completely incomprehensable to me and as a result I picked up many bad habits early on. I decided to put this book down and take guitar lessons instead. What a great choice, my poor habits were corrected and I was progressing forward in my playing at a pretty constant rate. Only after a year and a half did I decide to open this book up again. To my surprise it was actually really useful. It filled in the gaps that I thought were missing from my lessons, it elaborated on recently learned information and it had excellent exercises to reinforce what I had already learned. All in all, this book is actually not for beginners at all, at best it makes for a good reference book. Once you have a pretty basic understanding of the guitar, this book actually becomes very useful. I'm still using it now and it is a great help, it's giving me direction and I actually notice an improvement in my playing. I would definitely recommend this book for someone with at least 2 years of guitar lessons under their belt. For everyone else, there are much better books than this for beginners.
on April 2, 2004
Not a bad intro into the wonderful world of guitar playing, this book gives you the basics about which guitar's right for you, how to put strings on it, and how to getting sounding halfway decent.
GUITAR FOR DUMMIES is not, by any stretch, a comprehensive how-to, but definitely a clear and uncomplicated place to get started. Most important is that you get started, because playing the guitar is one of the most fun and rewarding thing you can do with your hands and not feel too guilty about.
on October 6, 2003
This is definitely the best beginner book for guitar I have seen, but it starts to skip around as it moves from complete novice to budding player. By that I mean that it gives you a few concepts and then suddenly jumps ahead to more complicated methods, and often the only way you can tell if you're doing something correctly is to compare the noise you make to what you hear on the CD. That's fine for simple things like avoiding fret buzz, but a beginner is likely to develop bad habits with pull-offs and other intermediate techniques without more in-depth instruction.
Also, after completing this book, you may be able to wail away with your favorite CD, but it's more likely that you'll be able to produce about half the sounds you want with no clue about how to produce the other half. That's because the book only mentions a few box patterns and never explains how to practice them to perfection, nor does it delve into more rudimentary techniques that will be required to know the fretboard by rote. Instead, it sometimes relies on cheats (yes, the pentatonic scale is versatile, but you will need much more than that to be taken seriously as a guitarist), and it rarely indicates the amount of dedicated practice that will be required to master a technique.
Still, I like the way it combines several guitar methods. I probably wouldn't have become interested in classical guitar if this book hadn't included it. It could do a better job of indicating which concepts will and will not work with various styles, but usually that applies only to classical. Generally, unless they say the concept pertains to classical or all styles, it doesn't.
So this is a good book to get a feel for the guitar. (And its guides on shopping and maintenance are invaluable references.) It's perfect for the beginner, but it isn't a stand-alone book, so don't confuse it for one. It should be read along with a book on rudments, like "Mel Bay's Complete Book of Guitar Technique" by Sal Salvador. Or better yet, use this to see if you're serious about guitar, then take lessons.
on May 30, 2000
I got myself a Fender Stratocaster and have been taking guitar lessons. I also bought this book. It's a great book to pick up a lots of great hints and has a wealth of good information about buying and caring for an instrument. However, this book does not replace lessons. For exzample, even though charts show you the proper fingering for the various chords, you need lessons to show you the proper positioning of you hand in order to be able to actually play the chord. If you are holding the neck of the guitar wrong, many chords are very difficult to play. Another example.. bending strings! The book can explain it but it sure is a lot easier to learn when you have a teacher showing you and practicing with you. On the other hand, the book shows chord progressions you can pick up and other techniques that, in conjunction with your lessons, you can learn. I recommend the book as a great supplement to lessons. A main reason for my recommendation is that the book is well written and is interesting to read. The fact that it can hold your interest makes it easier to learn than if the book were dry and technical in it's approach. However, I much less strongly recommend the book as your sole method of learning to play guitar. It can be done but not nearly as well as with a teacher guiding you along.
on May 4, 2001
This book does well in explaining some of the basic concepts in guitar playing. The guitar is one of the best instruments and I have been playing for seven months now and this book has definitely given me a good foundation for learning. I must admit though that guitar playing could be easier if you have an experienced player teach you some tricks to help you understand some of the more difficult concepts such as the hammer ons, slides, pulls, and power chords. If you feel comfortable with learning guitar on your own this is a good book to start with. I also recommend getting Hal Leonard's Ultimate guitar book. It contains a lot of fun songs all tabbed with strumming and fingerpicking patterns for each song. Good luck with your playing and don't forget to have fun.
on March 7, 2002
I am quick to praise the For Dummies philosopy. People these days assume too much. I want to be met on my level, and trained from there.
Guitar for Dummies is great in that respect. I mean, it doesn't even assume that you own a guitar! It teaches you how to take care of your guitar, how to tune it, and how to play it. The method is great. The songs aren't that hip. I mean, you'll never play Micheal row your boat ashore for that group of attractive members of the oppisite gender at the beach. But hey, you teach me the chords, the technique, and I'll dig up some tab or sheet music. And the cool thing about guitar: you might not be good right away, but after only a short time, you can start faking it! Have fun.
on January 9, 2000
I think that this is a pretty good book if you want to teach yourself guitar. When I picked it up I had had some previous guitar experiance and there are a few spots that could have been comfusing if I knew absoloutly nothing about this instrument. But I would still recommend that you buy this book. The graphics are good and it includes a lot of detail, and also has sections on how to clean your guitar, change strings, and picking out the right guitar to buy. Very informative and interesting. All the chords are clearly illustrated and so are the notes. Plus it doesn't focus on a particular guitar style or type, whatever you play, it has the info you need. A good buy!
on February 27, 2001
This is a good basic guitar book that touches on nearly all aspects of playing and owning a guitar. The teaching takes a pretty logical progression through the different chord families and different styles. If you are truly a beginner, I would recommend this book. My only reason for 4 stars instead of 5 is that the tracks on the CD seem to be played way too fast - almost unnaturally fast. It can be discouraging trying to keep up with the CD. Despite the fast tempo, it is a valuable tool for hearing what the songs and excercises should sound like. Just hang in there and don't give up if you can't keep up.
on December 30, 1999
This book does just what it says on the cover--provide an overview of guitar playing for those just getting started. For example, if you're not sure whether you want to play classic or jazz, this book will give you helpful info. Good reference material on repairs, buying a guitar, etc. One complaint: their "top ten" guitarists of all time ignor such greats as Charlie Byrd, George van Eps, Jim Hall, Joe Pass, Barnie Kessel, Herb Ellis, Eddie Lang, Django, et al., in favor of some current rockers who will soon pass from memory.