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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
I hate guitar lessons. More than that, I hate guitar lesson books. Of course I want to play the guitar. It seems everyone in L.A. can play the guitar but me. I can play piano, and I can make random noises on my drum, but guitar books just don't seem to work for me. But I like this one--a lot!

It's a picture book. There are a lot of instructional picture books these days, with lavish full-color illustrations and short paragraphs, snappy headlines, and they all make learning look easy, but not all of these pretty books are created equal. I know this because I have read every one I can get my hands on, no matter what the subject. What makes this particular picture learning book work is that behind the pictures and snappy headlines and short paragraphs, someone who knows how to teach took the time to put everything in order and not take things too fast. The result is that you don't get instructions that skip around or seem to jump ahead, leaving you behind if you are not keeping up with every step.

There are several guitar learning techniques I have never seen before, such as the Easter Bunny Gets Drunk At Easter string mnemonic memory key. I tried to devise one of these for myself a few years back, but this one is much easier to remember, and the fact that someone who knows how to teach guitar finally thought to add this to page 12 (nice and early in the lessons) gave me great hope that I too could fumble my way into campfire fame, if not slash and burn rock stardom (well, someday). See the images of the book I uploaded to see exactly what you will find in this book.

Chords are the basis for learning and playing guitar, and they are not so hard to remember as they are a pain to figure out what to do with. I have learned how to play several chords from other books, simply by looking at where to place my fingers, but then I get lost. Okay, so now I know a chord. What next? And what about single notes? Learning guitar can get very frustrating, very fast, when you are simply following along plopping your fingers here and there and not hearing any songs, and not being able to play something "on demand." This book removes that frustration by taking you quickly through a series of baby steps that familiarize you with the essential skills you need to play single notes and chords, and whatnot, and only then gives you progressively more advanced exercises.

What I like most about this style of teaching is that each technique is its own segment in the larger chain, so that you can go back and focus on the one thing that is giving you trouble, and return to the part of the course where you were and practice properly (and successfully). There is no getting around the callouses you need to build up on your fingertips, but this book works equally well with electric guitar, acoustic, or even a lute!

Advanced techniques appear (also in tiny, easily digested segments) after you have had time to play around with basic chords and single note exercises. Chord theory is laid out in ways that almost seem simplistic. I remember my friend trying to teach me chord theory a few years back. His IQ is somewhere north of 150 and so was his teaching methods. i understood the words he was saying, but nothing would stick when I picked up the guitar. With this book is was much easier, to the point of absurdity really. All in all, this is (in my humble opinion) the perfect way to learn guitar if you don't have a teacher to stand over you for weeks on end while you wrestle with your guitar. I like the spiral binding, as the book lays flat nicely while you practice. And it is short. In 64 pages you learn everything you need to actually play and practice--enough to get to that next level, that of learning your favorite songs by reading sheet music and impressing friends and strangers. It's simple, and it works, and the DVD is a nice bonus that shows you "in real life" everything you learn in the book.

**Highly recommended** (and it is really inexpensive considering what you get)

Thanks for reading
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2006
I bought a Takamine G-240 as a Christmas gift to myself. Received this Book & DVD as a Christmas present. It is a pretty good. The DVD is easy to understand. It starts with describing how to buy a guitar. Talks about the structure of the guitar. Teaches basic cords, major and minor chords. Then goes on to teaching practice exercises to help you play.

Includes more advanced stuff like barre chords and finger transitions to help you play faster.

I am a beginner guitar player (I've been playing for a little over a week and I like the material-I'm really new). This DVD / book combo was exactly what I needed. The DVD is helpful and cooresponds to the book.

Basically it gives you the tools to become a decent player, but it takes practice. I recommend the book / DVD combo to the beginning player. But I think it is being discontinued.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2009
This book has been most helpful at getting me through some cord progressions. But be warned, this book (or at least the revision I have of it)has NOT been carefully proofread. I have seen at least two places where it suggests forming G major with your first finger on the high E string rather than the third finger, then 2nd and 3rd finger used on the low E and A. Good luck with that if this is your first book and you don't have a correct reference elsewhere. Also, where it describes how to change from one chord to another it describes (in one instance) moving fingers into positions that aren't even part of the new chord. That's the stuff I've found and I haven't been through all of it yet. I'm not trying to be all high and mighty with this review- I'm a beginner hence the purchase of the book/DVD. The book is more helpful than not, just saying some stuff in it is sloppy and you should be careful.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I started learning the guitar about six months ago. Much of my source was online via YouTube. My son received this as a gift and after one glance at the booklet content I knew this would be an excellent learning tool. It's not only simple, it's clear, which is quite different than just about every YouTube lesson source. There, they cannot break down the information into simple, clear digestible concepts and content. This one does and, whether you're a beginner or intermediate, I cannot recommend this enough. It will get you on the right track from the start and save you from having to go back and fill in unfortunate learning gaps.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2007
I picked up a copy of this at an area bookstore, and my brother actually got a copy of this at a employee bookfair. This is a nice little introductory kit for beginning guitar players. Of course it may not be as good as private lessons, but its a heck of a lot less, and It actually is pretty simple. You won't be a Joe Satriani or Steve Vai after getting through this, but you can have some fun. Check it out.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"Simply Guitar" by Steve MacKay is a good spiral-bound book and DVD targeted at beginning guitarists, but also suitable for people who know the basics but need a little further theory and practice. The book starts off with very basic concepts (naming the parts of the guitar) and progresses fairly logically through things like tuning the guitar, chord construction and progressions, finger style playing (particularly important to me as a Mark Knopfler devotee,) etc. There are a few typos in the book, but they don't detract from the content in most circumstances. The only real downside was the perspective from which some of the diagrams were depicted, and occasionally the order of the instruction (I am unsure, for instance, that it was wise to put "the caterpillar" exercise before forming basic chords) but these issues are comparatively minor.

This set is available at an extremely low price, and for value it can't be beat. The great guides by Bert Weedon and Mickey Baker are still my favorites, but they don't have a DVD (though Weedon did do some instructional videos) and cost much more, and Weedon's in particular is more challenging theoretically. On balance I think MacKay's book and DVD are a good investment for the beginning guitarist.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2011
I actually bought this book and DVD twice as I lost the DVD with moving house. Although I do have some other products with similar aims this one proved to be the best and I had to buy it again.

This time I have the hard back book. Well presented, fun exercises and good DVD. Find the diagrams easy to follow and memorize, with brilliant demonstration by Steve. Only criticism is I do find some of the demonstrations slightly fast hence 4.5 stars is more accurate. Not sure if this was simply a time issue, as I notice this on other DVDs.

As a newbie this proves very helpful and was affordable too! Not sure if the same guy is bringing out other books, but that would be good also.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2011
I whole heatedly agree with all of the positive ratings for this book. I've been playing guitar for 20-years, I play Martin guitars because I believe in quality as it pertains to music. This book is complete, concise and very user friendly. I have children and now, grandchildren to whom I'd like to pass along the gift of music but grandpa can be a bit impatient and overly articulate; this book is my lesson plan. It keeps me measured in my teaching, and allows my students to still get the basics and to learn good habits. Simply the best learning tool ever.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Sure MacKay could have proofread more accurately, but I find his notation most helpful since I don't read music. He allows me to play the progressions and to diversify from them. What I want after finishing his course is a second level where he provides the sheet music with his particular notation for complete pieces of music. I can find nothing in the music stores to compare with his.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2011
I don't have the spiral version so #1 why would they even offer this in 'paperback'. If I could hold the book open and play guitar at the same time, I wouldn't need this.

Ok - really, this is decent material as an introduction, but make no mistake - this IS NOT A LESSON BOOK - it will not replace lessons. He shows you what to do, and the camera angles are good, but offers no real instruction. In the jacket it's obvious, as it does not indicate that he's a guitar teacher (and he's not). What I mean is, when you teach someone something, they need to see it from different angles. If you don't follow what he's saying, you're not going to get another 'approach' (like a music teacher would do). I find he jumps into chords too quickly and presents the notes on the fretboard all at once, but doesn't really explain them or offer proper instruction/exercises for you to practice learning them. I guess you need to do that on your own. Also, you cannot 'play' along with him. He explains, very briefly, what you need to do, then he just does it, at a speed that no beginner guitarist can even hope to keep up to. His finger styling is the worst, he says you use your thumb for the first three strings (which is string 6, 5, and 4 or E, A, and D), then you use your index finger for string 3, middle finger for string 2, and your ring finger for string 1. Then he just starts playing, no instruction on how or what to practice, just do it. So there, I just saved you from watching that part as you now know as much as anyone who's watched this DVD on how to finger pick.

There are not even any songs to play on this. This isn't worth looking at for free, never mind paying for it. Total waste of time
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