Author: Richard Chapman
Level: Beginner to Intermediate
The way I would best describe this book is it’s the “ultimate snippet guide to guitar”. I’m torn on this one. It’s almost like the author has tried hard to improve on the classic Guitar Handbook by Ralph Denyer but failed miserably, probably because of restrictions and guidelines imposed by the publisher. It’s glossy, feature / picture packed content makes it look interesting at a first glance, but when you dig deeper into the content, it kinda stops short of being of any real use to it’s intended audience. Similar to the dummies guides, it tries to cover far too much information, only in this case, with less space for written content, which it tries to make up for with pretty pictures and coloured tables and diagrams.
Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t necessarily a bad book, it does in fact contain quite a lot of useful information. It could be argued that The Guitar Handbook also tries to cover too much information but there is a big difference. The Guitar Handbook is sold primarily as a reference book and is aimed towards the serious guitarist at all levels. The New Complete Guitarist, however, tries to sell itself as the all in one – everything you need to know about the guitar from maintenance to recording to playing like a pro. It’s trying so hard to appeal to every level of guitarist to maximise sales that the reality is it’s, if anything, just an interesting read with information that just makes it useful enough to keep on the bookshelf as a reference book.
That sounds quite harsh so let me add some balance. The book is not poorly written in any way and the content is not at all useless. In fact, if you are a complete beginner then I would say this book is well worth buying, possibly more so than the Guitar Handbook because it’s probably easier to follow. There’s a good amount of information that is useful and it’s not a bad reference lookup guide, in fact, if I lost my Guitar Handbook and couldn’t get a replacement, I’d possibly use this as an alternative. For the beginner guitarist this is probably a very good book to have as an addition to a decent teach yourself guitar book / video or alongside some song books from your favourite bands. It serves as a great guide – but it’s far from being an instructional or method book.
I’m not going to score this book because it wouldn’t be fair. It’s not bad, it just isn’t what it says on the tin. If you are an early beginner then I think you will find some good value in it. If you are an advanced beginner / intermediate guitarist looking for a decent reference book / encyclopaedia then don’t waste your time. Just go straight for the Guitar Handbook, you can read my review of it here.