Q: I browsed your site and read about several of Bruce Arnold's books on amazon.com. I've been playing the guitar for a little over 2 years. I took lessons for about 8 months, but my teacher left the state and I've been floundering since then. Your books look interesting and get rave reviews, but I don't know which one to try.
I know lots of chords, can play a few barre chords--not well, but can play them, and I have a great memory for chords and little pieces I learned in lessons. I know nothing about theory, and can't figure out the strumming patterns of songs even when I know them like the back of my hand, can sing them, and have the tabs for them - I can play the chords, but that's it. I love music and playing is a joy, but I have found myself very unmotivated the past 6 months or so and hardly playing at all (even losing my calluses). So, to summarize: not a rank beginner, know lots of chords, great memory, no music theory, no "ear", no sense of figuring out strumming patterns, sad because I have lost direction and motivation.
What book would you recommend I buy?
A: Thanks for contacting me. I would recommend you work in 3 different directions. My recommendations would be based on a 1 and 1/2 hour practice time per day. Hopefully a little more on the weekends. It would also be figuring that you have time to do ear training or music theory when commuting to work/school. This could also take in to account other small 5 to 10 minute time intervals throughout the day that you could do a little music practicing without the guitar.
First, I think 1st Steps for a Beginning Guitarist will be a good starting place for you. This book will show you the proper technique you need to use when playing the guitar but will also help you with your rhythm and chord changing problems. There are important scales to learn in the back of the book and I'd recommend getting the Jam Tracks Volume One so that you can apply these scales in a musical way. I'd also recommend that when you are practicing the scale that you have the Jam Track going on in the background to keep your ear in the right key center.
Second I would recommend Music Theory Workbook for Guitar Volume One. A completely "not fun" book, but is a very valuable book to work through. This book will help you memorize all chords both in you head and your hands. This will be very useful information when you start to process and understand the music theory aspects of each scale or chord progression you might learn. This is a workbook where you fill in answers to music theory questions. It is an excellent book to work on when you have breaks throughout the day or when commuting etc.
Last, I would recommend Ear Training One Note Complete. This will improve your ear so you are more "connected" with music and will in the long run help you to learn music directly from CDs and to hear and understand what others are playing. Once again this book and CDs are excellent tools to practice when commuting or during any 5 to 10 minute down time throughout the day.