Guitar book

My favorite story is one of the longer ones about Les Paul. Mr. Bachman saw Les Paul play at his hometown in Canada where he watched through the kitchen door since he was too young to enter the premises. Mr. Paul talked a bit with the young guitarist and showed him how he played a song. Fast forward years later: now established as a musician, Randy Bachman was re-introduced to Les Paul, who actually remembered the-kid-from-the-restaurant and about an encounter even later when they got to play together.

Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap Stories is a memoir book by the famous rocker. Randy Bachman, a musician from Winnipeg who was in the Guess Who, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and other bands, tells about his career and the people he met. A short book with many short stories, Mr. Bachman has chronicled great memories from a great career. Reading the book I felt as if he would play a song after each story.

Frankly, despite the paragraph above, I wish more celebrities would write such books of personal stories. Mr. Bachman is not only a musician, but a fan, and it comes across clearly in the book. I could actually feel him get excited when he talks about meeting people he admired or being invited to play with childhood heroes.


Appropriately enough, but less interesting to me, the longest section in the book is the one where Bachman talks about guitars and goes into details about the sound structure of them. I am not a musician, never was, never will be, and my ears cannot hear those subtle differences.

Throughout my life there have been few dreams that I have kept longer, yet done so little about, than the one about being able to play the guitar. Nay, not only play it, but also shred on it, rock out on it, and make it cry for me when I can’t. I’ve had an electric guitar and small amp traveling with me from apartment to apartment (and finally into the office in my house) for over twelve years and still not a single chord memorized. I’ve tried numerous books and a handful of videos (you remember VHS, right?), but I was never able to keep up with it. Now I have a new book, written by one of the definitive voices in the guitar world, the aptly named magazine, Guitar World!

Guitar World presents The Best Instruction Book Ever!is a big, beautifully laid out manual with an accompanying DVD to watch while you move through the chapters. One of the issues I found in earlier books was that they moved too quickly from one skill to the next, not really building off the previous chapters. This manual is tightly structured to lure you along, helping your momentum from chapter to chapter. Of course, you might feel it moves too fast if you don’t take your time and master each section as you go, but that’s your responsibility, not theirs.
The skills are broken out nicely and each chapter is filled with tiny lessons, everything from basic chord identification all the way to advanced tricks like sweep picking and trills. It shows you how to read tablature step-by-step with clear and concise images and figures. Those are helpful since if you just read the text alone, the musical lingo can get overwhelming rather fast.

I did enjoy the book very much and I had an advanced reader’s copy (ARC) but I do think the book need to be tighter. I enjoyed the informal style which, I’m sure, works great if you know Mr. Bachman or listen to his radio show (I never have) but for me, some of it simply didn’t work. Many short anecdotes end with sentences similar to “what a great guy” and such, leaving the reader hanging in the air.