Guitar By the Book: Four Top-Notch Instructional Books for Guitarists

What good is it if I continue to review a bunch of flashy new gear if I'm running out of cool licks to play?

Here are four new books from Hal Leonard. They cover pentatonic licks, chord progressions, expanding your blues vocabulary and blues guitarist Mike Bloomfield’s style.

Connecting Pentatonic Patterns: Tom Kolb unlocks the fretboard by showing you all positions of the major and minor pentatonic scales. Once you have them under your belt, the book explains how to fuse major and minor scales together and apply them over chord progressions.

The included play-along CD offers stereo recordings of the examples in the book. First hear the licks as they’re written, then pan out the lead guitar and take over. I also found the “Tone Tips” helpful. Kolb explains how to cop his guitar tones on the CD.

Michael Bloomfield Legendary Licks: Dave Celentano has put together a collection of transcriptions following Michael Bloomfield’s work with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Electric Flag and his solo career. Celentano dissects Bloomfield’s scales of choice, referring to them as "Common Box," "Albert King Box" and 'B.B. King Box."

It comes with a play-along CD that demonstrates the solos with a backing band. Perks include a rundown of Bloomfield’s gear and a timeline of photos that show off some of his guitars. This one happens to be available at the Guitar World Online Store.

All in One Guitar Jam Tracks: Chris Amelar breaks his book up into six chapters that outline chord progressions and offer soloing ideas over rock, blues, jazz, country, metal and funk songs. With your imagination and the given creative song titles, you’ll be able to figure out what examples like “I’ve Got Changes” and “Hellboys from Cow” are referring to.

While there’s no play-along CD, the book comes with a link to Hal Leonard’s My Library. Once you’re there, all you need to do is enter a (supplied) passcode to access the book’s audio examples. You can stream them from Hal Leonard’s website or download them in mp3 format.

Stretchin’ The Blues: Duke Robillard meets you with an understanding of the common 12-bar blues and expands that into 30 specific lessons. I like that these are 30 separate lessons, meaning you can jump around if you’re short on time and focus on exactly what you want to learn.

Some lessons include double-stops, how to craft a memorable blues head, soloing with chromatics and understanding a 12/8 slow-blues feel. Robillard also takes popular concepts from artists like Les Paul, Charlie Christian and Count Basie and shows you how to apply them to your playing. A play-along CD is included.

Price: $19.99 to $24.99

You can't believe everything you read on the Internet, but Billy Voight is a gear reviewer, bassist and guitarist from Pennsylvania. He has Hartke bass amps and Walden acoustic guitars to thank for supplying some of the finest gear on his musical journey. Need Billy's help in creating noise for your next project? Drop him a line at

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49