Thursday, 13 March 2008

Guthrie Govan, Creative Guitar Vol2

An odd sort of review this one; partly because it's for a book that' s been out for at least a couple of years now, and partly because it has absolutely nothing to do with literature. Over fifteen years or so of guitar playing, I've read an awful lot of instructional books. Some of them are helpful, some of them are awful. I thought it might be helpful to review what I think is the best I've come across.

The first thing to remember with Guthrie Govan's book is that it is Vol 2 of his series and deals specifically with advanced techniques. Those after a general introduction to the guitar would be better off with his first volume. This is very much a book for more advanced players looking to explore more extended musical and technical possibilities. There aren't, for example, any sections telling you how to play open position chords, but there are instructions on how to eight finger tap pianistic chord voicings.

The book has a few major selling points. One is how well written it is. Thanks to years of contributing to Guitar Techniques magazine Govan is able to convey ideas in print with clarity, enthusiasm and humour. It certainly makes this more than a dry instructional tome. Combine that with Guthrie Govan's phenomenal technical abilities, a concern for musicality not found in a lot of other books, and a range of exercises that covers just about every conceivable technique, and this book is a must have for guitarists.

My favourite parts are the ones that go a little beyond what you might expect from most instructional books, particularly those focused on rock playing. There are, of course, the usual sections on alternate picking, economy picking, legato and tapping, but there are also chapters on such things as emulating other instruments and country style hybrid picking. Showing you how to steal licks from bassists, organists or theramin players must surely count as a good thing.

All in all, this is probably one of the best guitar instructional books on the market, written by one of the world's better players.

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