Guitar Related Book Reviews

Mel Bay's Complete Method for Modern Guitar
Mel Bay
June 1980
ISBN-13 978-0871666659

Intended Audience
Beginner to Intermediate

One Sentence Synopsis
A tried and true classic within the field of guitar instruction.

Get it here.

Mel Bay publications have been around for many years. They are respected as learning tools and as pathways to guitar proficiency and are still used in many classroom and individual study programs.

This book includes all seven of the individually produced instruction manuals that can be purchased separately if you choose to go that route.

This is the introductory quote provided on the first page after the cover:

"The Mel Bay Modern Guitar Method is the world's premier course of instruction for guitar. All sever volumes are contained in this complete edition. The guitar student will be introduced to notation, position playing, music theory as applied to the guitar fingerboard, and chords. In addition, some the finest guitar technical studies, duets, etudes, and solos available are contained in these pages." (Mel Bay's Method for Modern Guitar, Mel Bay Publications)

This volume is 320 pages long and utilizes notational score only. There is NO tablature. The intention is to expose you to standard notation and develop your site reading capabilities.

There is little room for dispute that this is a classic of the guitar education genre.

I do not personally know anyone that has completed this consolidated volume. I do know that if you take the time to strap in and practice each lesson, as prescribed within the book, you will become a proficient guitarist. I am very confident that you will be an accomplished guitarist if you undertake this particular line of study and stick with it form page 1 through the aforementioned page 320.

You will be able to:
✔︎ Read musical notation
✔︎ Play in all standard keys and then some
✔︎Develop a very decent repertoire of popular and classical songs
✔︎Thoroughly understand chord and scale relationships
Become skilled in positional play in all standard keys
✔︎Understand and apply musical theory
✔︎Play in time and with a thorough knowledge of key signatures
✔︎….and the list goes on

So, what is the hitch?

Well, many people seem to think the term "modern guitar" is somewhat misleading. This is NOT a rock and roll oriented study regimen. This is a classical, proven approach to acquire solid playing skills on the guitar. Can be fun but takes a great deal of dedication and requires oodles of practice. There is no simple key to unlock improvisational skills on guitar but the information in this book, if understood and applied, will certainly allow you to open the door.

You have to sit down with a metronome and practice. Hours and hours to really gather all of the benefits. You won't regret doing so if you complete this course, but rest assured, this required commitment. I am not sure how much time is required to really absorb and apply all of the lessons that are included in this edition, but I would venture a guess that a couple of hours a day for one year is not a gross exaggeration.

I'm guessing many of you have tried the 1st volume of Mel Bay's Modern Guitar Method and I'll wager not many completed the book. Why is this? Is it because there is no Van Halen or Wilder? No Satriani or Vai? No Jimi as in Hendrix, or Jimmy as in Page? No Chuck Berry? The questions could roll on, but I think you get the drift. There is a lack of R&R within, BUT you will have little issue changing the beat and going with the flow if you have put in the work. Lots o' work.

Wait a second! Are you saying that I won't be able to learn how to play, "Hey Joe" or "Sweet Alabama," or even "Whole Lotta Love" by taking this course?

No, I am not saying that. I am saying you will be able to play, "Allegretto Grazioso" and set yourself off on the right path toward both musical understanding and guitar fluidity. Why wouldn't you want that?

You have to commit and that is a huge commit in and of itself.

Take the challenge on and you will be able to play "Norwegian Dance" in the key of A, "Variation (Duet in F# Major), "The Sixth Chords on the last 4 strings", "Maple Leaf Rag" in the key of A, "Preludium" in the key of E, and a simple "Home on the Range" in the key of G.

…and to do so and play the tunes listed above and hundreds of others you will need a metronome and your willingness to forge ahead. Commitment. Possible sore fingertips floating on the horizon. No way to avoid either.

Come on now. This is a classic in every sense of the word. Copy write renewed in 1948, 1972, 1975, 1980, 1990, and 1992.

THE textbook used in thousands of music lessons throughout this great land.

I have to recommend this study but can't make any guarantees you will complete it.

…but you won't be sorry if you do.

Go on and play "Narcissus" in the key of A.

Show off a little, but you won't be able to unless you commit. Commit fully.