Guitar Lesson Resources

Recommended guitar books, software, etc.



I have used this software in countless ways since I bought it in 1999/2000 and I cannot say enough great things about it. As a transcription tool, it does all the things you would expect: slows down audio while maintaining the pitch, a powerful equalizer, and mono left or right channel selection. These tools make transcribing fast or difficult to hear passages much easier.

I don't just use Transcribe! for transcription though, I also use it as a practice tool. The program offers the ability to save and recall loops which I use in a couple ways. The obvious way is to "build out" passages that are challenging. For instance, if I'm transcribing a difficult solo, I will work on it in chunks until I'm able to piece the entire solo together at the original tempo.

The not so obvious way I use the program is by saving the more complex sections of the songs that I perform regularly so that I can call them up quickly in preparation for a gig. This saves me an enormous amount of time because I can just run the challenging parts of tunes with a couple quick clicks and don't have to sift through all the parts I don't need to practice.

Lastly, if a song is tuned down and I want to play along with it without re-tuning my guitar, I can just tune the track up to standard guitar tuning. Super convenient!

Transcribe is available for $39 and has a 30 day free trial if you'd like to try it before you buy.

Music Books

I have a lot of music books. They're fun to get and I can usually grab an idea or two out of them that's useful. The books below are the books that have actually changed my playing.

Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar - Troy Stetina

This is a technique book from a rock/metal perspective and the basis of my personal technique came from working with this book as a kid. It may not appeal to people interested in other genres of music, but it is still one of the most thorough technique books I've seen. If you can play the stuff in this book, you can play anything.

What I find most valuable about Speed Mechanics is not the specific exercises, though they are good as well, but the philosphy behind how to approach each hand. Regardless of what genres of music you are interested in, these ideas will benefit you by making you a more efficient player. This book changed my life and I highly recommend it.

Creative Jazz Improvisation - Scott D. Reeves

Wow, this book's price has gone up! We used Creative Jazz Improvisation in our college jazz improvisation class and I still reference this book sometimes for various things. It covers what I would consider to be the primary jazz tonalities very well and includes transcriptions of solos by jazz legends as examples of those concepts in use. If you are going to be disciplined and use the book it's very much worth the price. I have the 2nd edition and I'm not sure what has been edited in the new versions.

The Omnibook

The Omnibook is a must have for any jazz musician. Charlie Parker is one of the most influential players in jazz and a focal point of study. He was a master of the language of the time, referred to as bebop, and that language is an important part of jazz up to the present day. The Omnibook is a collection of recording transcriptions from Parker's career. Not only will learning these transcriptions add important tunes to your reportoire, it will further your knowledge of jazz chromaticism and phrasing, improve your technique, and plant the sounds of jazz deeply in your ear.

The Jazz Language - Dan Haerle

The Jazz Language is my favorite jazz theory book. It's thorough and succinct.

A Modern Method for Guitar - William Leavitt

This is a three volume set of a great approach to standard notation reading on guitar for adults. I use these books with my students and have used them myself. If you don't want to play "3 Blind Mice" to learn how to read music on guitar, I highly suggest this book.

Here are links to the individual volumes as well:
A Modern Method for Guitar - Volume 1
A Modern Method for Guitar - Volume 2
A Modern Method for Guitar - Volume 3

Serious Jazz Practice Book - Barry Finnerty

The Serious Jazz Practice Book is a great resource for new ways to practice melodic material such as scales and arpeggios. It has many approaches to scales that will put new motions under your fingers and help you play new ideas. I primarily use this book as a reference for fresh ideas once in a while. It's largely patterns and that alone probably won't make you a great soloist, but it does help to generate some new ideas to play from.

Guitar Comping - Barry Galbraith

Guitar Comping is a great way to learn chord voicings and see how slick great comping really can be by playing etudes based on standard changes. This book is probably part of what helped me put the pieces together to realize that comping is not just harmonic and rhythmic, but also melodic.

Complete Book of Harmony, Theory and Voicing - Bret Willmott

This book is pretty intense, but very useful. The concept behind it is that standard 7th chord inversion voicings have many uses as substitutions and can be reused over and over again for various other chord qualities. It's a common concept in jazz and this book creates a very thorough approach to utilizing it. It also made me aware of some substitutions that I had not already thought of and introduced the concept of thinking about chord voicings from the highest note rather than the lowest. This makes more sense if you want to think about comping in terms of melody and not just chord shapes.

Other Useful Books

The Power of Habit

I found this book really interesting and it has been useful to think about life from the perspective of habits. Specifically, it has helped me to identify and alter habits that have not been useful and replace them with better habits that are more relevant to my goals. As a musician, it has been useful to think of ways to structure my practicing, making it more rewarding and more habitual.

As a teacher, it has added another perspective to understanding how my students work and to help them create more useful practice habits of their own.

The Inner Game of Tennis

I read a number of books on performance anxiety in the process of preparing for my graduate thesis. Most of them say similar things and I found The Inner Game of Tennis to be the best written, least new agey option. It's a useful book for understanding more about how to learn any performance-based discipline, deal with the potential stresses that are invovled, and put yourself in the best frame of mind for a performance. Also the concept of "natural learning" changed how I approach certain concepts as an instructor.