The Guitar Handbook
Author: Ralph Denyer
I couldn’t begin to imagine how many times I have opened this book, I’ve owned it for around twenty years and I still use it today. If something happened to it I would immediately order a replacement. So what’s so cool about it? Well to be honest it’s not particularly exiting or anything like that, it’s also not exactly a guitar teaching book either. I suppose I would describe it as the ultimate guitar answer bank. I have opened this book so many times I’m amazed the binding is still holding together. If you are anything from slightly interested in guitar to a seasoned pro, you should have a copy of this on your bookshelf. The only other book I have recommended this hard is Creative Guitar 1 by Guthrie Govan.
A problem with recommending anything with too much passion is there will always be a certain amount of people that simply don’t agree. For instance, the Guthrie book in my opinion is one of the best guitar teaching books ever written – but it has to be suited to what you are doing and what level you are at for you to get the same value out of it as me.
The Guitar Handbook however is more suited to any guitarist, any level, any style, so it makes it a bit easier to recommend. With that said, you can’t please everybody so I’ll say this. Be careful with your expectations. You might buy this book and your first impression is you feel a bit let down by me hyping it up so much, and I don’t want anyone to put a hit on me for misleading them!. You are not going to become the next guitar god because of this book and the value of it might not manifest itself fully until you have owned it for a while. So what’s in it?
Not all the of the content goes into explicit detail, a lot of what’s in here covers the foundations of many subjects related to the guitar. Most of the time this is all the info you might be looking for. The first thirty or so pages give a few titbits and short bio’s on some well known guitarists. The next two chapters are about how acoustic and electric guitars are constructed, some history and various information about different types of guitar which can be a great resource of information and also makes an interesting read.
The next chapter is about playing the guitar and probably makes up half of the book. To be honest, there’s not a lot in here that will teach you how to play the guitar but what you get instead is the ultimate lookup guide, information on everything from left and right hand techniques through to barre chords, to transposing, scales, exotic scales, intervals, arpeggios, technique and loads more. There is a wealth of information in here, each section is quite short and to the point.
Next up is guitar customising and maintenance – strings explained, fitting strings, setting the action, adjusting the neck, intonation, guitar care and repair, pickup wiring and testing etc, all complete with diagrams, pictures and sketches.
Then there is a section on amplifiers and recording which is interesting but to be honest doesn’t go into much detail. The book then finishes off with a chord dictionary which gives you about 23 chord types in each key, all useable chord shapes, complete with note information and scale spelling for every chord, which is a great reference.
This book will never outdate and is without doubt the ultimate encyclopaedia for guitarists. It will always be on my book shelf and easily accessible, even after twenty years of owning it this one never gets buried in a pile. I can’t really say much more than that!