Fingerstyle Books
Book Reviews


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Introduction
Fingerstyle Guitarist Folios
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Fingerpicking
Styles
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Fingerpicking
Blues

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Reference/Instruction Books
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Beginning
Fingerstyle books
 
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Introduction

This list of books are ones that have inspired my playing and have given me countless hours of playing enjoyment.  If you're looking for new music to learn, you may want to consider these.   With some of these I have included samples of particularly compelling tunes for you to check out.  These are tunes that I either personally play or like a great deal.  I will be adding more examples to this page as time goes on, so check back again to see what's new.

Fingerstyle Guitarist Folios

"Richard Gilewitz Fingerstyle Guitar Selections"
Richard Gilewitz, 2002, Gillazilla Music
96 pages, 7 tunes

Many folio books available today don't have much in the way of instructional material to help the player figure out how to play the tunes in the folio.  They are basically targeted to players who are already intermediate to advanced.  Richard states that this book was designed for the "beginner and advanced player".  From the Table of Contents you can see it is part instructional book and part folio of tunes from which you can learn by doing.  It offers instructional information to develop the needed picking pattern skills and to learn about the tunings used in the pieces.  Many of the compositions are more approachable for the beginner because they take significant advantage of open strings and allow you to build off the pattern studies.   Most of the work is getting proficient enough with fingerstyle arpeggios to play them up to tempo; this makes them ideal for working on fingerstyle technique.  The 7 tunes presented cover a range of tunings but 2 are in standard and 3 are in Open G.  This book is really ideal if those who are looking for material to build fingerstyle playing ability and want to explore what open tunings can offer.  The book doesn't include a CD, but most of the tunes can be found on Richard's CD "Synapse Collapse".

Buy it directly from Richard's Web Site


"Turlough O' Carolan For Fingerstyle Guitar"
William Stevens, 1995 Granger Publications
Review written by:
Tim Pike

Turlough O'Carolan composed many of the most striking melodies ever written.  This book contains 21 of them.  William Stevens has done a fine job arranging these tunes, they are fairly simple for the intermediate fingerstylist to capture yet sound full and beautiful in a solo setting.  All but two of the tunes are in standard tuning(the remaining two in dropped D). A cassette with Stevens performing the arrangements  is included in the package.  I find myself going back to this one quite often! 

My Favorites

  • "Cremonea". Very haunting
  • "Blind Mary".  Beautiful and haunting!
  • "George Brabazon 2nd Air".   Fun and bouncy

"Muriel Anderson, Hometown Live"
Muriel Anderson, 1995 John August Music

Muriel Anderson I got a Narada collection of fingerstyle guitar as a gift a while back. Before looking at the artists, I listened to all the cuts. I was surprised to find that the cuts that caught my ear were cuts by Muriel Anderson. I didn't know anything about Muriel back then but I've been a fan ever since. She is essentially a classical guitar player, but you wouldn't know it by listening to some of her original music. This book has 12 of the cuts from her Hometown Live CD, including one of those tunes that caught my ear on the Narada Collection.

There is something here for every level of player. There are some that are surprisingly easy to play like "It Never Gets Easier" (maybe that's why she named it that), and others that only Muriel or another advanced classical or flamenco guitarist could master like "Fantasia De Fuego". But I have yet to learn every song in a particular book. If you're not sure if this one would be appropriate for you, buy the CD and see if there is something here you just have to learn. Most tunings are in Standard tuning or Dropped D tuning.

My Favorites

  • "It Never Gets Easier". This is a Dropped D tuning and is surprising easy to play. When played like Muriel plays it, it is hauntingly beautiful.
  • "Hometown Live". This is the title cut for good reason and isn't that difficult for a good picker.
  • "Mister Chester". Muriel wrote this tune in honor of Chet Atkins and is really a fun piece.
  • "Nola". Carnival Anyone? This is a lot more difficult but sounds great because it's so light and bouncy.

Order this book direct from Muriel


"Paul Yandell, Going Home"
Paul Yandell, John August Music

Paul YandellWhen the title tune in this book "Going Home" was published in Fingerstyle Guitar Magazine, I new immediately I had to learn it.  That's also when I first heard of Paul Yandell.  Once I realized there was book of his music available, I just had to get it.  Paul is best known as the sideman to the legendary Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed.  But he is a great fingerstyle guitarist in his own right.  This book contains note-for-note transcriptions including the Reed classic "Rhythm Guitar".   Includes full-length CD. In Tablature & Notation.

My Favorites

  • "Going Home"  I've committed this tune to memory and play it every chance I get.  I has a distinctive Chet Atkins sound to it, has a great melody line and is just plain fun to play.
  • "Clear Spring Blues"  A great example of Country Style Blues.  It has a special flair that sets it apart from ordinary blues tunes.


"New Acoustic Guitar"
Peppino D'Agostino, 1997 Belwin-Mills Publishing Corp.

Peppino D'AgostinoWhat's really great about many of the new Fingerstyle books coming onto the market these days is that they come with a CD that has all the music on it. To hear what it's suppose to sound like before you attempt to learn it is invaluable....or at least offers you the compelling excitement of thinking that you too could sound like this someday if you master the music in this book. This book is one of these...the CD is worth the price of the book by itself. Most of the music was written by Peppino himself and is targeted to the intermediate to advanced guitar player (not a book for beginners). There is music presented in 7 different tunings including: Standard, DADGAD, and Open D.

My Favorites

  • "Walk Away Renee" (DAC#EBC#). The only piece with lyrics in the book, but as soon as I heard it I new I would have to learn it.
  • "Song for Carol" (Standard Tuning). This is a duet piece, but the music is hauntingly beautiful .
  • "Acoustic Spirit" (DADGAD). If you like the Micheal Hedges style, you will like this piece....but it's not for the faint of heart.
  • "Close to Heaven" (FBbDFCD). Another beautiful piece that shows what can be accomplished in Open Tunings.
  • "Bella Donna" (DADF#AD). Truly an great composition, it could easily be a closing piece in any concert.

Acoustic Masters

Listen!

Acoustic Masters (Peppino D'Agostino's New Acoustic Guitar). By Peppino D'Agostino. For Guitar. Guitar Method or Supplement; Method/Instruction. Acoustic Masters Series. Acoustic. Book & CD. 100 pages. Published by Alfred Music (AP.EL96102CD)

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"Mel Bay Presents The Guitar of John Fahey"
Compiled by Stephan Grossman

John Fahey, more than any other artist, has inspired my playing the most.  Just about all these pieces are excellent, but for me "When Springtime Comes Again" stands out over the rest.   John has had a very interesting life; if you want to know more about him, read the article on this site and check out the links you'll find there.

Other Favorites

  • "In Christ There Is No East Or West"
  • "Some Summer Day"
  • "On The Sunny Side Of The Ocean"

17 pieces in standard notation and tablature.  Includes CD

 


"The Music of Leo Kottke"
Mark Hanson, 1991
Book/CD, 57 pgs. 5 songs in 3 tunings

The first time I heard a Leo Kottke recording (his "My Feet Are Smiling" album), I couldn't believe it was ONE guy playing guitar.    I've aspired to play like that since.  This recording was a live performance and had his landmark medley of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring", "Crow River Waltz", and "Jack Fig".  This book has 5 of his better tunes in it, and contains the two easy tunes from that medley (which is why I bought it).  His rendition of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" in open tuning on a 12 string is one of the best examples of how his style can take a common piece to whole new dimension.  This book includes TAB and Notation, and now also includes a CD. 

Tunes in this book

  • Busted Bicycle

  • Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring

  • Theme From The Rick And Bob Report

  • Crow River Waltz

  • Little Beaver

The Music of Leo Kottke look inside The Music of Leo Kottke By Leo Kottke. Arranged by Mark Hanson. For Guitar. Music Sales America. Softcover with CD. Guitar tablature. 48 pages. Music Sales #AC72672. Published by Music Sales (HL.14033325)

...more info


"Leo Kottke Transcribed"
Mark Hanson, 1993
Book/CD, 64 pgs. 4 songs in Standard or Dropped-D tunings

This Book/CD contains some of Leo's more complicated and long pieces; the notation for William Powell goes over 20 pages.  The great thing about books being published these days is that they include CD's which allow the author to provide additional instruction.  Mark has done a great job on this CD in laying out the details of these tunes.  Each tune on the CD contains an introduction with tuning discussion, a 1/2 speed run-through, a full speed segment to hear how it should sound, then a detailed section-by-section discussion.  The CD clearly makes this material far easier to grasp and the book wouldn't be nearly as good without it.  I think it sets the bar for other book authors to match; especially with more complicated music like Leo's.

The Notation & TAB is quite detailed and shows chord diagrams, tempo changes, and right hand picking details.  Between the TAB and CD, there is really no guesswork required.   Given the full tempo of these tunes, I also have to say the 1/2 speed play run-through is much better than trying to learn it from a full speed rendition.

To many fingerstyle players, being able to play a Leo Kottke tune is like a "rite of passage".   It's like proof that you have attained a certain level of accomplishment.  Mark has made this goal much easier than it ever use to be with detailed breakdowns and thorough transcriptions.  Either of his book/CDs are highly recommended if you aspire to "play like Leo".

Tunes in this book:

  • William Powell

  • A Trout Toward Noon

  • Time Twelve

  • First To Go

Leo Kottke Transcribed look inside Leo Kottke Transcribed By Leo Kottke. For Guitar. Music Sales America. Contemporary Folk and Folk. Difficulty: medium to medium-difficult. Guitar tablature songbook and examples CD. Standard notation, guitar tablature, chord names, guitar chord diagrams, guitar tab glossary, performance notes and introductory text. 62 pages. Music Sales #AC72680. Published by Music Sales (HL.14018891)

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