The Jazz Guitar Handbook Book Review

Jazz Guitar Handbook
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  • Review Summary:

  • With a healthy mix of history, theory, performance application and audio examples, there is something for everyone in this volume, and the amount of information included will ensure hours, weeks and months of enjoyment in the practice room for guitarists looking to expand their jazz performance skill set.

Introduced as a complete course in all styles of jazz, The Jazz Guitar Handbook is an in-depth introduction to the history of jazz guitar and jazz guitarists, an introduction to the instrument itself, as well as an instructional guide for those looking to dive into or expand their knowledge of jazz guitar soloing and comping.

Accompanied by a CD containing almost 100 audio examples from the instructional section of the book, The Jazz Guitar Handbook will be a welcomed addition to the library of any jazz guitarist or fan of the instrument and its performers.

First Impressions

The first thing that stood out to me about this book was the inclusion of the first two sections:

  1. History: Jazz and Jazz Guitarists
  2. Making a Start: Guitar for Jazz and Guitar Basics


Normally, when purchasing a jazz guitar instruction book one would find only material that focuses on theory, chords, arpeggios, licks and other performance-based information. But, by including these two opening chapters, author Rod Fogg provides that little bit of extra insight that players of all levels will enjoy reading as they learn about the history of jazz guitar from the early blues days to the modern era, as well as guitar design and construction insights as well.

Learning Material

The Jazz Guitar Handbook is broken up into four main sections as far as the instructional material is concerned:

Part 1: Making a Start
Part 2: Chords
Part 3: Beyond Pentatonics
Part 4: Jazz Guitar Styles

Each chapter is then broken down into various subsections that include theory background, musical examples (tab, notation and fretboard diagrams), audio examples and more. By including tab, notation, graphics and audio examples, Fogg ensures that students of all learning backgrounds and preferences will be able to learn from and enjoy the material presented in this book.

Fogg does an excellent job of mixing technical exercises and practical examples for the material presented in The Jazz Guitar Handbook. By presenting chords, scales, arpeggios and improvisational concepts first in technical exercises and then through practical, musical examples, Fogg allows the reader to introduce themselves to each concept in the book on the guitar and then immediately take this new material to a solo, chord study or lick, allowing for direct application of each concept in the book to a performance situation.

One item that may not seem intuitive at first for readers is the inclusion of chord symbols under the tabs. Rather than on top of the notation where one would normally expect to find chord symbols, Fogg has written each chord under the tab at the bottom of the example. This is not a big issue, but it might cause some initial confusion as readers might play the wrong chords when first looking at these examples on the page. Once figured out, and with a bit of adaptation from the reader, the notation system becomes clear and easy to follow along.

The Jazz Guitar Handbook is an in-depth, educational, and enjoyable book that will appeal to beginner and intermediate jazz guitarists alike.


  • Easy to follow and fun to read.
  • Added history of jazz guitar as well as method material.
  • Loads of musical examples with tab and audio.
  • Examples of theory in musical situations.


  • Chord symbols below tab.
  • Lack of backing tracks.

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