12 May 2008

Review: Beginner’s Blues Guitar, David Hamburger

This method aims to teach blues guitar to beginners or to rock players wishing to acquire knowledge of the blues. It is part of the National Guitar Workshop series and comes complete with a quality CD where the author plays all the book’s examples for you.

The book follows two main threads that cover both rhythm guitar and soloing techniques. Both are presented in a very complete and clear manner and are clearly illustrated with examples.

Rhythm Playing

After a short introduction to some blues music theory the book kicks off with some rhythm guitar basics. Building from these you’ll learn all about different blues styles such as shuffle, boogie-woogie, Chicago blues, Texas swing, minor blues and slow blues. There are great example songs to get your rhythm chops up to scratch in all of these styles.

Going Solo

The soloing chapters of the book provide an equally complete presentation of electric blues guitar skills. This starts out with an introduction to the blues scales and a number of ways to use them to build licks and solos. The essential blues techniques of hammer-on and pull-off, slides, bends, and vibrato are all given a thorough treatment.

The soloing material is topped off with some signature licks from blues greats such as T-Bone Walker, BB King, Albert King, and Albert Collins as well as advice on improvisation to help you build your own solos.

A Touch Of Class

Not content with an already excellent coverage of blues rhythm and solo playing, the book adds the finishing touches with some great intros, turnarounds and endings that will give your blues playing a classy edge.

You’ll also find a final chapter with advice on planning and organizing your guitar learning, as well as recommendations for some backing tracks to accompany your practice.


This is an excellent method for guitarists with a little experience wanting to learn electric blues guitar. The book’s presentation is very clear and the writing style makes it easy to follow. The author’s knowledge and enthusiasm for blues guitar comes across clearly.

Complete newcomers to the guitar might find it a little hard going, but if you’re willing to work then it really does contain all you need to know for a long while.

If you’re interested in playing acoustic blues guitar then this is not the best book for you. You might, however, still enjoy it if you’re looking to understand playing blues in a band or jam with other musicians.

The very complete coverage will keep you busy learning for a long time making this method excellent value for your money. When you get through with it you’ll have all the knowledge you need to play blues songs in a variety of styles with other musicians. If that’s your goal then this book is highly recommended.

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