Genre: Music Guide, Method Book
Page Count: 105 Pages
The Guitar Simplified, in the words of Neil Santos is “everything you ever wanted to know about music theory and guitar but were afraid to ask.” The book was published by Scale Trainer in 2012, and it serves as a beautifully illustrated guide to the guitar and music theory.
My first impression of the book was that it was very professionally designed and laid out. I was extremely impressed with the consistent layout from page to page and the clear, yet colorful illustrations of the guitar and its various fingerings. The design definitely contributes to the ease of understanding and absorbing the book’s content.
The Guitar Simplified opens with an introduction to the guitar including the names for the various parts of the instrument, the vocabulary related to the guitar, its different shapes, features, tunings and more. What I found to be the most interesting aspect of the introduction was that Santos went beyond the instrument itself and explained guitar effects, different pick options, slides and amps. These sections were short, but they included just enough information to introduce these options to the novice without getting in the way of a reader who may be a little bit farther along in their playing.
The overview also includes information on reading chord grids, scale grids,and tabs; a strumming overview (my personal favorite) with 9 common strum patterns; and finger exercises. These were all really great sections that helped me as a reader become more familiar with the guitar, its notation and allowed me to familiarize my hands with the fretboard and various hand positions.
Following the overview is a chapter on rhythm which illustrates beat, tempo, measure, and meter as well as a breakdown of rhythmic note values and more. In this well-written chapter, the concepts surrounding rhythm are broken down into easily digestible segments that can help any player develop a solid understanding and foundation in rhythm.
The remainder of the guide include sections on scales, chords, harmony and arpeggios and even though it is geared towards guitarists, I found these chapters to be an extremely informative and comprehensive introduction to music theory that could be useful for any instrument.
We certainly hope that Neil will consider writing basic theory books for other instruments (or maybe a general theory book)! He has a way of breaking down subjects that could be considered complicated into segments that are easy to understand.
The Guitar Simplified is different from many of the guitar method books I’ve come across in the past because of the way it focuses on the theory and harmony behind playing a chordal instrument. This guide is most definitely a necessary addition to any guitarist’s music library. With the vast amount of information included in the book, there is something for everyone regardless of what level they may be at with their playing.
The author, Neil Santos, is a musician, teacher, blogger and Berklee School of Music graduate. He currently shares his knowledge of the guitar and music through ScaleTrainer.com.