30 July 2008

Fretboard Roadmaps Review: Get Ahead in Chord Playing

Chords and progressions are the bread and butter of guitar playing, without them you have nothing to spread the musical jam on. This review presents you one of the best guitar books out there for learning how to play chords and chord licks in any key, all over your guitar fretboard.

Sounds like a tall order? It is, but Fred Sokolow's Fretboard Roadmaps really delivers the lessons that will get you there. It builds your chord vocabulary, showing you how to build chord shapes for any type of chord.

Stuck In A Rut

When I came across this book I was stuck in the rut of playing the same boring old I-IV-V chords using bar chords. Mostly I played in only one or two keys in positions that I was familiar with. Playing wasn't too much fun and certainly didn't sound much like the interesting and varied sounds I heard in the songs I listened to.

What were those guitarists playing to create those varied rhythm backups? I didn't know until this great book from Fred Sokolow's showed me. Fred opened my eyes to a whole world of new chord possibilities. It showed how to use chords from different positions to make up varied accompaniments, even when playing simple progressions like the I-IV-V.

The Roadmap

The heart of the book is a simple fretboard roadmap it shows you for playing any chord up and down the fretboard. Using the roadmap you can play progressions and chord based riffs and licks all over the fretboard, regardless of the key.

You can create really professional sounding licks with this roadmap using only a few easy to remember chord positions. Of course, it is up to you to put in the practice time to get your fingers moving smoothly...

Well Organized

The book's thin size - 64 pages - is no indication of the power packed into its twelve roadmaps. From the beginning the book presents things clearly and concisely and gets you putting the theory into practice with well designed exercises.

The twelve roadmaps take the guitarist from basic chord harmony to playing great sounding chord and lick accompaniments all over the neck. Novice guitarists can follow the book through from beginning to end. More advanced guitarists will find it more helpful to dip into chapters to fill in the gaps in their knowledge.

Each roadmap gives enough material for several days or weeks of study. I find myself coming back to some of the roadmaps often to revise or pick up new ideas.

Play Varied Backup

Finished are the days of the boring I-IV-V two fret boxes I used to play in. I learned how to play varied chord positions all over the guitar neck, strumming or playing single note licks for a varied sound.

As well as chord harmony and the roadmap for playing chords and licks all over the neck Fred Sokolow shows you chord progressions to play just about every blues, rock or pop song you've heard.

Maybe you already know about the I-IV-V chord progression, but you'll learn other progressions that you might have been puzzling over, too. I know I did - more on that coming up later this week, sign up for the free RSS feed so you don't miss it.

Break Out of the Box

If you are also struggling to break out of the usual pentatonic, or blues, boxes for your solos you'll also benefit from the patterns presented in this book. You'll learn how to play your blues licks around the chord positions that you learn. This makes it easy to create great sounds mixing chord and scale sounds, really cool.

The Fretboard Roadmaps book doesn't come with a CD, so those who like to hear examples might feel a little lost. If you're one of those people, you might want to console yourself with the DVD edition where Fred demonstrates all the examples.

Blues, Jazz, Country, Rock, Bluegrass...

You would also be well advised to save yourself some postage and packing by ordering one of the companion volumes at the same time. These roadmaps develop the ideas of the first book further with application to a particular musical style. There are roadmaps for blues, rock, jazz, slide, acoustic, bluegrass and folk, as well as titles for instruments such as bass, banjo and ukulele.

The specialized roadmaps are accompanied with a CD. The jazz roadmap's CD that I have includes all the examples from the book as well as a half dozen full backing tracks to practice to. All the recordings are great quality and played just like the tab in the book.

Oops, I guess I'm rambling on a bit here, but I really wanted to share these fantastic books with you so you too can benefit from the guitar knowledge packed into their slim volumes.

The Verdict

Should you buy Fretboard Roadmaps? If you already have a basic knowledge of guitar chords and are ready to move onto a new level of understanding and playing ability then I think the answer is a resounding yes.

This great series of books can certainly show you how to improve and give you a good foundation for playing rhythm and lead guitar. In my experience, these are the best guitar books that I have come across. The books are really inexpensive, you just can't go wrong. Order your Fretboard Roadmap from Amazon today.

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