Magnatone Giveawya

August Issue
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Staff Picks: Book Worms

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Guitarists are never short on resources in the digital age, but sometimes nothing beats a hold-it-in-your-hand manual with real pages to turn. Veteran folkie John Hammond, PG editors, and our Reader of the Month discuss great guitar books to learn from.


John Hammond -- Guest Picker
What are you listening to?
I listen to old blues records like Howlin’ Wolf, Blind Blake, Bukka White, and Blind Willie McTell.

What is the best guitar instructional book out there, old or new?
I never used books. I learned guitar by watching and performing with other players like Son House, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Howlin’ Wolf, and Willie Dixon. Robert Johnson was my initial inspiration and I gradually developed my own style after trying to emulate all of these idols of mine. I would also learn from studying old blues records, and by driving my friends crazy.


Danika Holmes -- Reader of the Month
What are you listening to?
I’ve been driving around listening to King’s Bullet, a new duo out of Nashville. I’m completely hooked. I’ve also been listening to female-fronted rock bands like Halestorm and Lovebettie.

What is the best guitar instructional book out there, old or new?
I love The Music Lesson by Victor Wooten. It’s a more holistic approach to music, focusing on not just notes, but groove, emotion, dynamics, rhythm, tone, phrasing, and space. I’ve read this book over and over again.


Joe Gore -- Senior Editor
What are you listening to?
I’m falling in love again with Nico Kasanda, the Congolese guitarist better known as Docteur Nico (1938-1985). Such groove. Such lyricism. Such cheesy lo-fi delay. Il est parfait!

What is the best guitar instructional book out there, old or new?
I can’t say Scott Tennant’s Pumping Nylon is the “best.” But because it’s geared toward classical players, it may be the most overlooked. It’s a godsend for any fingerstylist, regardless of style or string type. There’s even a tab edition!


Shawn Hammond -- Editor in Chief
What are you listening to?
The Pixies and a lot of headbanging stuff—Converge, Bring Me the Horizon, Gorguts, Deafheaven, Kvelertak.
What is the best guitar instructional book out there, old or new?
I’m not big into books. But when I was 15 or so and a teacher diagrammed the seven standard scale modes and explained how they fit together, it gave me the tools to try to develop my own songwriting and playing style—though often the best progress came from ignoring or warping those fixed patterns.


John Bohlinger -- Nashville Correspondent
What are you listening to?
Live at Eddie’s Attic by The Civil Wars. How can two people sound so big?
What is the best guitar instructional book out there, old or new?
I’m a big fan of biographies of musicians. Though not technically an instructional book, Tunesmith: Inside the Art of Songwriting by Jimmy Webb, taught me a lot about the mechanics of music and helped with some rudimentary piano. A fun read that gives a lot back if you take the time to apply it.


Jason Shadrick -- Associate Editor
What are you listening to?
Although I’ve been deep into the Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs album for years, I’ve recently taken a deeper look at it thanks to a very timely gift from my wife.
What is the best guitar instructional book out there, old or new?
There are two books I would recommend to everyone, no matter what their stylistic interests are. For chordal technique you can’t beat the original George Van Eps Guitar Method and for sheer mind-altering concepts you can’t beat Mick Goodrick’s The Advancing Guitarist.

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