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on September 22, 2007
I have been a musician all of my life, since the age of 4, and a guitarist for a decade, since the age of sixteen. I was in high school orchestra and took guitar lessons for a few years, but at no time during any of this did any of my instructors really help me understand music theory. I tried learning a few times by myself, but that always ended in frustration.

Then I found this book. "Music Theory for Guitarists" is the most in-depth, intuitive, and well thought out book on the subject that I have ever come across. After reading this book and completing the exercises in it, I now feel confident in my grasp of music theory in a way I thought would never happen.

This book deftly guides the reader through the journey from the most basic of basics to much more complex topics, such as chord substitution and reharmonization. It also includes an entire chapter on learning to find the key center of songs, which is an incredibly useful skill to have since you can't always tell by ear what key you are in.

Perhaps the most in depth part of this book...the author analyzes the major and minor scales, and all of their modes, in depth. He gives each scale and mode its own section, discussing the nuances of what sets each apart from the others, and giving ideas for how and when to apply it in real world situations. He also goes into detail about building and identifying chords and harmonizing the major and minor scales (a section that has completely reinvented the way I look at writing music.)

I cannot say enough about this book. It has opened my eyes to a subject I thought I was too "stupid" to grasp, and showed me that I was only unable to learn because it had never been presented to me correctly. If you have any weaknesses in your knowledge of music theory, I would strongly recommend that you take advantage of the goldmine of information found in this book. You will likely find yourself, as I have, seeing the language of music in a completely different light, and for the first time really seeing how all Western music is connected at the root.
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on August 27, 2005
After 35 years of self taught guitar and knowing a fair amount about music theory, I found this book to be the clearest, most concise and comprehensive overview of theory I've ever read. This is "must have" for any guitarist who wants to move beyond groping the neck and develop an organized approach to your music.
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on October 22, 2008
I think the irony with many standard guitar methods, at least the better ones, is that they usually expect you to have a basic knowledge of music theory to allow the exercises to really sink in from the very beginning. Conversely, I think the irony with starting a music theory course or method is that it normally expects you to have already begun contextualizing the material on the instrument of your choice before you can even begin to make practical sense of the material and apply it. It seems very much like a Catch-22.

What Tom Kolb manages to do in the opening chapters of this book is quickly and thoroughly provide the vital concepts you need to really get going with both: a diagram of the fretboard with all of the notes on it (without the high register), a nice explanation of the different types of notation, the terms you need to begin to develop your musical language abilities, scales and key signatures, intervals, and triads (the most basic chord forms). He uses a bottom-up approach; however detailed or complex the material gets, he usually manages to apply it to the larger context. And I use the word "usually" because it's very apparent that music theory becomes an infinitely large topic the more you cover. The latter chapters contain some very heady concepts that require playing experience to contextualize.

This book is loaded with material, and can be challenging depending on how much you invest yourself in it. If you use a healthy balance of memorization and application all the way through, there is no doubt that you will benefit.
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on August 3, 2005
If you are like me and have been searching for a music theory tool that is tailored for the guitarist, look no further. This is it. This book breaks down music theory in a simple, easy to understand fashion. It has taught me, so it must work!
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on January 26, 2007
This is truly a remarkable book. It covers a wide range of areas important to any musicial regardless of their instrument. I brought it obviously to improve my skill on the guitar, but I've learned so much more with regard to the theory behind music.

As a musician and student with Music as my Major in college, one of the most important chapters in the book for me was chapter# 4 (Intervals). I struggled with intervals constantly. But now I am becomming much better at identifying them. I had not seem this thing called "interval shapes" which is in chapter 4, and was not aware that being able to identify shapes would allow me to achieve the interval I was looking for. There is so much more to this book that I will tell you if you're a serious musician or even if you're not, this is the book for you; hands down!
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on January 7, 2010
The problem with this book is that while it does a good job of defining things, it doesn't provide the necessary context to explain why they matter. For example, there's a thorough treatment of different keys. But what exactly does it mean to say that a given song is in the Key of C versus the Key of A? The book doesn't provide the basic information about how different musical elements fit together. There's a Wheel of 5ths to show the order of flats and sharps. Great. How do I use that to inform my actual playing?

As someone with zero knowledge of music theory, there's still more that I need to know prior to being able to take advantage of this book. The title led me to believe that it included "Everything," i.e. those foundational pieces, but it really doesn't. Unless you already understand music theory, get a different book. This one may do a good job of taking your theory knowledge and applying it to guitar, but it comes up in short in teaching those basics in context.
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VINE VOICEon September 30, 2007
An easy to understand guide in music theory as it relates to the guitar. I'm no wiz-bang when it comes to music. I constantly struggle with it, but despite that I recieve so much gratification from the effort. This book lays out the concepts in very easy and digestible chunks so that even a slow music learner as myself is able to grasp the concepts.
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on May 29, 2007
I've been playing guitar for roughly 12 years now, and I had stagnated. While I could play just about anything I wanted to (except a little Django) I had some weaknesses. I had learned theory in school, but it was strictly on paper - I had only applied the knowledge to guitar in the most obvious ways.

With increased practice time, I've been looking for more material to learn. I wanted a book that would provide all of the scale exercises I'd need to become a little more fluent in my ability to construct interesting ideas.

And this book helps quite a bit!

It is a dense book, since it boils theory down to very concise entries. It isn't a book you can fly through, especially if you haven't already known what you were doing.

So far, my speed has increased, and my scale knowledge has blossomed.
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on September 17, 2007
Although some of the concepts can be a little tough at first, this book has become invaluable to me. It has enabled me to progress as a professional guitarist, not just someone who seeks to "self-learn" things on their own by playing songs of favorite bands.

I am very glad I got this book. It will teach you everything you need to know about music theory- which will greatly improve your guitar playing abilities in the long run.
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on July 20, 2010
A month ago, I got 3 guitar music theory books, based upon 'best' ratings. I read them all ... Tom Kolb's book is the best of the best. By that I mean that this book is the most advanced.

It is mercifully succinct. It is accompanied by a CD, illustrating all manor of exotic chord progressions and substitutions. It makes so many points, regarding improvisation and writing harmony so clear that you are encouraged to create far more elaborate music than the going average performance.

If you are to get just one theory book, THIS is the one I would get. I read it in two days, highlighting and underlining etc. Then, on a third day I reviewed the whole thing, yet again, using the CD to illustrate all the lessons.

SUPERB ... thanks, Tom.
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