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Elliott Smith Songbook Paperback – October 1, 2009
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A quick google search of "The Essential Elliott Smith" shows that it does indeed exist, but it seems to be available only in the UK. That's nothing some extra shipping charges can't fix.
I've spent many years traveling the internet in search of accurate tabs. Most leave out the incredibly complex chords and riff lines. Most are dumbed down versions of his songs and do not accurately capture the harmonic colors and complexities in his chord choice. Most do not tab out the intricate finger picking patterns. And none of them notate the vocal melody. Which to me is extremely important to Elliott Smith's music. especially if you are studying his songwriting technique.
There is one notorious web page among Elliott Smith fans for accurate tab of his songs. While this site manages to get the majority of the chords correct there is so much that is missing. The "Elliott Smith Songbook" gives you all that has been missing for guitarists and songwriters interested in learning and dissecting his songs. not only does The "Elliott Smith Songbook" get all of the chords correct but it correctly tabs out the finger picking patterns and their intricate rhythms. The book notates all the correct tunings,the chords and their names, rhythms, finger picking patterns, melodic guitar riffs, the song structure and vocal melody. I have yet to encounter any other source that has all this to offer. I recently ordered the European tab book that reviewers have been talking about but it was almost $40 dollars.
For the price the "Elliott Smith Songbook" is more than sufficient. In fact I've been wanting all that this book has to offer for so long that I would have paid twice as much.
Don't let the negative reviews sway you from buying this. There is plenty to learn from this book. I consider myself an advance guitarist and songwriter and I have been learning something new every day since the book came in the mail.
What is missing from this book is a greater notation of his more arranged songs. There are not any tabs of the bass lines or lead guitar solos nor the vocal harmonies. The bass notes in Elliott's songs are usually incorporated in the guitar chords so tab of the bass line is not always necessary as they are present in the complex chords. Cover bands who are not able to take the chords and melody and work out the solos, harmonies and bass lines may find that this book lacks what they need.
Many of Elliott Smith's songs were written and performed with only an acoustic guitar and his voice. If your intention is to learn the songs solo with you and your guitar this tab book will suit you just fine.