Author: Keith Wyatt
Level: Intermediate to Advanced
When I look through a new book I’ve just purchased, I normally spend some time looking through all the pages, listening to the CD (if there is one) and then maybe have a little work through one or two of the examples if something inspires me at the time. All in all, I don’t actually buy guitar books with the intent of working through the whole thing straight away, if ever. The hour or two I spend when I first look through it, tells me what I want to know about a book, how good it is and how much I can gain from it. This information gets logged in memory until the time comes that I feel inspired by something, which makes me want to go grab an appropriate book for some serious guitar practice. So why am I telling you this?
Because a lot of the reviews I do on this website are based on that experience, not necessarily that I have worked so much with a book that I know every detail of it. Having said that, before I write my own opinion and make it public, I like to check out what others are saying about the book. This helps make sure I am writing the review as unbiased as I possibly can. Okay, so now I can get to my point! … Finally! I hear you say
The Amazon Reviews
I’ve just spent about an hour going through Blues Solos For Guitar and my overall sentiment is this is a very good value, useful guitar book. It appears, however, that the reviews at Amazon aren’t so enthusiastic about it as I am. I was surprised to see an average 3 star rating. Admittedly, there are only 6 reviews at the moment so it’s not enough to be fairly balanced, but one thing is clear. The low rated reviewers aren’t rating the book at all, they are rating a comparison of a previous product. It seems this book was released years ago with six audio cassettes which I believe has been discontinued.
An Updated Version
The book in this review however is a somewhat cut down version of that old version. I can’t personally comment on it because I have never seen it. Maybe I’m missing something but I can’t find any reference where this book claims to be the same version or claims to come packed with six CD’s. Also, bear in mind the cost of this reissue is (apparently) less than a quarter of what it was in the eighties – add inflation to that and maybe it’s closer to a tenth of the cost. Maybe the book should have a different title but, if you see something re-released at a much lower price than expected which includes one CD instead of six audio cassettes, doesn’t that kind of give a few warning signs that this might not be the same content as previously sold years ago?
I just thought that should be made clear first so that there is no confusion. Now on to the book itself.
Inside The Book
The content follows an unusual format but I’ll get to that in a moment. The theme of the book basically consists of six full blues guitar solos. Each one of them is printed in full TAB and notation. The CD includes each of the solo examples, in full, and also each backing track is included without the solo for you to practice with (contrary to what one Amazon reviewer says, the backing tracks most certainly are included on the CD – with and without the solo, so he is either wrong, or the book / CD has been updated). The backing tracks are all of good quality and quite inspiring which is important when you spend hours jamming to them.
The solos themselves are also very good. Whereas a lot of solo examples in books aren’t exactly what I would call real world guitar solos, that is not the case here. The solos are each based on a different style of blues guitarist, BB King, Albert Collins, Albert King, SRV, T-Bone Walker and more?… Make your own mind up on that. One reviewer argues that the styles are nothing like the original artists. Personally, I beg to differ, but then my expectations may be different. When a tutorial is “in the style of,” take that to mean what it says. It’s the tutor’s own interpretation of that artist based on his own experience. The bottom line is this, the solos are good enough and interesting enough to play on stage and get plenty of heads turning. This is all I want from a book like this. Real world ideas that I may learn something useful from and inject some new ideas into my own style of playing. That’s what playing lead guitar is all about.
So what about the unusual format? This is the first time I have ever come across something like this in a guitar teaching book. As well as the full TAB for the solos, each solo is broken down into small phrases, literally every bar from what I can tell without going through it with a fine tooth comb. Keith Wyatt goes into extremely fine detail about what his hands are doing, mostly the fretting hand. How much value you get from this will be down to how much you might be questioning it. I can’t answer that but for some, it might be viewed as a waste of time, for others it might be the very thing you have been looking for in a guitar book but never found. I personally have little use for it and although I’d glance over it, I doubt I’d find it of any use … But, there was a time in my guitar learning experience where this would have been exactly what I was looking for in a teaching book. If I reviewed this book twenty years ago, I would have been hyper-enthusiastic about this idea.
It’s actually a fantastic addition to have included this kind of detailed information. I mean, he literally describes every imaginable detail of what his left hand is doing, for instance this is quoted straight from the book … “Then I release the bend, leaving my second finger on Bb, but after I play that Bb I’m going to move my first finger down on the first string to G at the 3rd fret” and “What I’m doing is squeezing the pick real tight in my right hand so that when I pick the note the pick hits the string and then my thumb hits it immediately, kind of muting the note so I get that little tink, tink, tink,”.
This is the kind of detail Keith is describing for virtually every note of each solo. Take it or leave it, it’s there if you need to know and can be ignored if you don’t. Most of the guitarists that buy books like this, do so for getting new ideas and inspiration. I’m one of them and I have every penny of my money’s worth just from the TABs, audio example and the backing tracks. If you need the detail, then it’s there and it’s just about as specific as you can get. About the only thing I don’t see mentioned is whether the right hand is using an up or down stroke for each note, but come on, how much detail do you need! Blues Solos For Guitar gets a big thumbs up from me.