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  1. #26

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    My volume 1 arrived yesterday, and today I wound up showing it to my teacher, and he immediately recognized it, blurting out, "ah yes, the Bible!" and then, several times that Mr. van Eps is a true "genius"--you could spend years on a single page or two. many people never finish a book, he says, given the enormous amount of material in it.

    Mr. Van Eps apparently told him many years ago that the final exited versions of the 3 volumes were much smaller than the original texts, which were like "phone books".

    so, yeah, the "Bible" immediately deserves a prominent place in my music library. I can get no stronger recommendation than that.


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #27

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    In 1980 Ted Greene interviewed Van Eps for Guitar magazine. You can read a copy of the article here: - The Legacy Of Ted Greene Lives On
    Even better you can hear the actual tapes of the interview, I strongly recommend them.

    In the interview Van Eps points out that he wouldn't expect anyone to go through every page of his books and milk them for all they are worth. He states that the most important thing is to understand the concepts contained in the various sections and explore them as far as you wish. From my experience I would say that you should study the first part of Vol I of Harmonic Mechanisms which contains the basic triad scales. Once you have done that you can study the rest of the material in just about any order.

    IMHO these books are the best way to understand the guitar fingerboard and the full harmonic capabilities of the instrument. If you experiment and simply fool around with the studies it will open your ears and you could be amazed at what you come up with.

  4. #28

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    I want to rescue this post in order to ask about the book content.
    It is "only" about triads or he covers other voicings?
    It is more about comping or about soloing?

    Thanks in advance for your answers.

  5. #29

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    I only have vol. 1.

    It is not only about triads, but maybe try and see it as a written out collection of diatonic groups and voicings. You will not learn anything about comping or soloing, it is more a collection of exercises to help you have an overview of the guitar harmonically.

    It is very extensive and very thorough and very long.


    Edit: but also very good

  6. #30

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    the sun will explode and the earth whither away before I could work all the way through the Harmonic Mechanism Series...Van Epps a True Master

  7. #31

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    I expected some musical examples, not another tone of work to do.

  8. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by sjl
    I expected some musical examples, not another tone of work to do.
    If so, those books were not targeted at you. They are indeed a ton of work, not intended as an easy shortcut to some licks.

    As for the "out of print" posts above, all three volumes are in stock at Amazon.
    Last edited by oldane; 09-16-2012 at 09:23 AM.

  9. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by sjl
    I expected some musical examples, not another tone of work to do.
    Doing a ton of work is necessary to becoming a good musician.

  10. #34

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    I know but I try to make the work funnier.

  11. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by monk
    Doing a ton of work is necessary to becoming a good musician.
    I finally succumbed to this book.
    All my ways go to Van Eps.
    Too much work but a good one.

    By the way.
    The only instructional material about Van Eps approach (appart from Van Eps books) are Herberman's classes and a very little part in Randy Vincent's three note voicings and beyond.
    Do you know something more?
    Any example of Van Eps kind of comping?
    P.S. I am not saying Herberman material is not good, sure is excellent, it is just for knowing.

  12. #36

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    For anyone who has worked on this book how do you recommend to go through this material? There is a vast amount of information in the books and it looks kind of overwhelming - how should one deal with the material? Random parts or from beginning to end (chronologically I suppose)?

  13. #37

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    One page at a time....every note on every page...

    It takes some time but after one scale is memorized the rest follow suit...

    Good deep stuff....for the discipline of mind and fingers...

    The open position chords I have come to use from time to time in my comping...

    time on the instrument...

  14. #38

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    I echo what pierre has said. I am methodically working through the series. I've been at it for several months and am just now finishing up the closed-form triads (basically, through page 44). It's very slow going, but this stuff WILL solidify your playing and add depth of harmonic content. My teacher, Steve Herberman, tells me that he spent a good 5 years working on this stuff every day before he got through all 3 books. So just take it slow and easy, and be consistent.

    Also pay special attention to the little "excerpt" exercises (e.g. Vol 1 pages 31, 35, 47) those exercises through all keys and pay specific attention to the fingerings. The whole point of a lot of this material is to get you to start playing moving lines through static harmony. You want to be able to add nice, moving inner and outer lines while holding a given chord for a measure or two - for example, major tonic chord movement might go from Maj7 to dom7 to Maj6. This is basically the CESH concept (chromatic elaboration of static harmony) and works great behind singers as they breathe; at turnarounds; while a soloist holds a note or pauses; etc.

    Specifically regarding triads (which I am REALLY getting into these days), you should also look at Bergonzi's hexatonics book (Vol 7 in his series). There are some really great exercises in there that will transform your understanding and application of triads on the fretboard. Plus, the exercises are fun.

  15. #39

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    In an interview conducted by Ted Greene for Guitar Player magazine in August 1981, Vans Eps answered your question. While it is certainly true that moving sequentially through the book will certainly take you into another realm of understanding, that isn't how Vans Eps designed the books.

    Pierre and Jeff have given you some excellent advice here. I am only providing another viewpoint as expressed by GVE himself.

    I think that what you do with the information is a critical factor. It's very important to find ways to to use this information as you learn it. The payoff is being able to use these mechanisms for chord solong and accompaniment.

    I've included a link to the Ted Greene website where you can read the interview with George Van Eps.

  16. #40

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    I had heard that too, but for me, if not to work through sequentially, then how would I know what to work on? In any case, I'll continue, as I'm finding value in the exercises.

    Steve Herberman told me that when George died, they had several stacks of lesson material from floor to ceiling. The 3 massive Harmonic Mechanism books are the "condensed" versions of those. :-)

  17. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by FatJeff
    I had heard that too, but for me, if not to work through sequentially, then how would I know what to work on? In any case, I'll continue, as I'm finding value in the exercises.

    Steve Herberman told me that when George died, they had several stacks of lesson material from floor to ceiling. The 3 massive Harmonic Mechanism books are the "condensed" versions of those. :-)
    I'm not disagreeing with you or Pierre. However, if you read the interview, you'll note that Van Eps states that ALL the material is interrelated and can be approached nonsequentially. Obviously, front to back has worked well for Steve. You can't argue with results.

  18. #42

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    Yes, I didn't mean to imply that there was any argument. For me, I work best when I just start at Page 1 (even if that was chosen arbitrarily), and go on from there.

    If I could end up sounding anything like either GVE *OR* SH, I'd be happy!

  19. #43

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    Is the book still in print?

  20. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by jdaguitar2
    Is the book still in print?

    Harmonic Mechanisms by George Van Eps. Publisher: Mel Bay. Three volumes. 897 pages. A hair over two inches thick when stacked. Pricey but if you're serious, they're worth every penny. IMHO, the most comprehensive work on fingerboard harmony and fingering ever written.

  21. #45

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    My teacher is 76 years old and still practices from these books. When I saw this book on his music stand, he quite simply referred to it as 'the Bible'. Keep in mind, he is not well known at all, but is recognized by the very best jazz and classical guitarists in the world as a true master. So, if he's still practicing from this book.... well, He always says that we--all of us--will always be students. Music is a multiple lifetime endeavor. Him practicing on the v. Eps book is tangible proof.

    He said you could spend a crap load of time on one page alone. One frickin' page. One tangible thing I got from working on one page that I have tried to incorporate into my playing is the simple idea of moving from triad inversion to inversion and simply moving one voice (e.g., the 5th) up and down.

    I usually pick a page (usually involving a major scale pattern) and work on it for a good long time--in all keys.

    I love how Mr. v. Eps emphasizes, in the introduction, the unity of the musical concepts and the mechanical (technical) aspects of being able to play the musical stuff with fluency. So true. That's why you could spend weeks on a single page. Many decades ago, Mr. v. Eps told my teacher personally that these books are actually heavily edited--per Mel Bay's request--the original size were the size of phone books.

    This book is living proof that we--all of us--will always be students.

  22. #46

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    I am currently working his first book 'The George van Eps Method for Guitar', which is available as a .pdf purchase from It was recommended as a foundation level entry into the more exhaustive material in 'Harmonic Mechanisms'.

  23. #47

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    You can buy the physical books on Amazon:

  24. #48

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    Here's why I think Mr. v. Eps advice is best utilized, as he mentions in the forward: "this material is intended to add to one's present knowledge. It's meant to blend in with it, not denounce it, or take its place, because all learning and experience is valuable. In other words, for those with previous schooling, this material can be supplemental information".

    Thus, you can jump in at various points. Take a look at the example I've posted. it's taken from page 51. it's only the very first part--in C. The whole study takes up 2 pages, from pp. 51-53, and is done in all 12 keys, both in major and minor.

    The title says: "Scale in open root triads--tonic down one octave-12 keys--full range upper interval= 3rds--lower = 10ths--overall 12ths.

    Looks daunting. And it is. But look at it again. What is this? Where have we encountered this before? We have! It's nearly identical to a common drop 3 grip many of us already know (1-7-3-5)---but it omits the 7th. When we look at it this way, we can use the information we already know and have no doubt practiced to help us with this musical exercise.
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  25. #49

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    I am so happy that this thread got some replies after a silent start. Thanks for the advice. Right now I am just playing the inversions of triads through the major, harmonic and melodic minor scale. I will check out new material slowly but each task in the book could take forever (all inversions in all keys and positions/string sets can be practiced for months)
    Last edited by yaclaus; 04-13-2013 at 02:00 AM.

  26. #50

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    Hello. Recently I bought Harmonic Mechanisms by George Van Eps and decided that I want to start working with it. I have worked with "GVE Guitar Method" which is less daunting than HM. I didn't finish it but I got a pretty good idea of what is going on. Now, that I have access to Harmonic Mechanisms I would like to get soome advice to how I should approach the exercises in this book. In the "GVE Guitar Method" there was advice given as to how to approach the material and how to practise, however in HM there is no such section.

    So, I started doing exercises and covered the keys of C, F, and Bb in the first exercise. What should be the focus of this exercise? In other words, what should be given all attention to? The physical technique? Should I rememer the fingerings as they are? Should I name the triads in my head (like it's in the book above the notes Dm, Em etc)? Should I always read the notes or when I learn them practise without the book? Should I name the notes when I practise away from book?
    When do I know that I can move to another key or next exercises?

    I would like to hear your suggestions.
    Thank you.
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