View Poll Results: Which beginner's jazz guitar method book helped you the most?

37. You may not vote on this poll
  • A Modern Method for Guitar - Volume 1 by William Leavitt

    6 16.22%
  • Beginning Jazz Guitar by Jody Fisher

    4 10.81%
  • Chords and Progressions for Jazz and Popular Guitar by Arnie Berle

    0 0%
  • Hal Leonard Guitar Method: Jazz Guitar by Jack Schroedl

    1 2.70%
  • Joe Pass Guitar Method (or Joe Pass Guitar Style) by Joe Pass

    1 2.70%
  • Mel Bay Jazz Guitar Method by Ronny Lee

    0 0%
  • Mel Bay Complete Jazz Guitar Method by Mike Christiansen

    1 2.70%
  • Mickey Baker's Complete Course in Jazz Guitar: Book 1 by Mickey Baker

    15 40.54%

    9 24.32%
Reply to Thread Bookmark Thread
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Posts 1 to 50 of 52
  1. #1

    User Info Menu

    Please select one of the following. If you learned the most from a book not listed, check OTHER and please mention the book (and how it helped you) in the comments section below. Thanks!

    1) A Modern Method for Guitar, Volume 1 by William Leavitt
    2) Beginning Jazz Guitar by Jody Fisher
    3) Chords And Progressions for Jazz and Popular Guitar by Arnie Berle
    4) Hal Leonard Guitar Method: Jazz Guitar by Jack Schroedl
    5) Joe Pass Guitar Method (or Joe Pass Guitar Style) by Joe Pass
    6) Mel Bay Complete Jazz Guitar Method by Mike Christiansen
    7) Mel Bay's Guitar Method, Grade 1
    8) Mel Bay Jazz Guitar Method by Ronny Lee
    9) Mickey Baker's Complete Course in Jazz Guitar: Book 1 by Mickey Baker
    10) Other


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

    User Info Menu

    I said Mickey Baker, but the first one I really studied was Jazz Rhythm Guitar by Roger Edison, and also Berklee jazz guitar chord dictionary as well- both very helpful. Bare in mind, though, that what I wanted to learn first was jazz rhythm guitar, to play as a backing player in various bands and pit orchestras. Learning the big band Freddie-style guitar and the soloing came later.

  4. #3

    User Info Menu

    I said Mickey Baker too, though it wasn't the first book I used. My test for guitar books is simple (though perhaps flawed): do I take this stuff and put it into songs of my own (or change--for the better--the way I play songs I've known awhile.) In that sense, I got more out of Mickey's book than any other except for Herb Ellis' books.

  5. #4

    User Info Menu

    The book that i feel came to my rescue is one i dont see mentioned too much,it is called an introduction to jazz soloing by the MI and focuses alot on chord tones and arpeggios,this cleared up a lot of the fog for me and i recomend it highly

  6. #5

    User Info Menu

    No-brainer for me; Mickey Baker has been my staple diet for years. I have most of the others (and many more besides, almost all of which are very useful...), but MB is what I would take to a desert island.
    (I would perhaps cheat, and smuggle through Ralph Patt's Vanilla Book, too...)

  7. #6
    I'd have to say Mel Bay Complete Jazz Guitar Method by Mike Christiansen just because it's the first one I really used a lot. After your first book I guess other books end up being kind of supplemental. I learned my first arps, freddie greene-type Drop-3 chords, basic chords, chord/arp substitution and superimposing, and fundamentals of chord construction from that book. It's got some good stuff.

    I also got a lot out of Leavitt's Modern Guitar Method books. His chord etudes give a lot of practical fingering for playing jazz, especially re. chord melody. He introduces chords in groups by voice-leading and fingering similarity (ii-V-I's with voice-leading fingering considerations for example).

    Also, it may not be a dedicated jazz method, but Leavitt's book does incrementally build on a wide range of concepts, where other methods tend to do one thing, exhaust it completely (sometimes taking it to a very high level), before moving on to a new area of study. For me, this kind of breaks down midway through book 2 where triad studies and such take over for long stretches. Jody Fisher's book is probably the worst in this regard, but it's also more of a dedicated jazz method at heart.
    Last edited by matt.guitarteacher; 04-24-2011 at 02:57 PM.

  8. #7

    User Info Menu

    I also said Mickey Baker, but I didn't come across it until I was a few years into my jazz journey.

    When I cracked it open ans went through the first lesson, I thought to myself, "boy, this would have been damn helpful 4 years ago!!!"

  9. #8

    User Info Menu

    I await the results with interest. As a newbie I have finally managed to make some sense out of Mickey Baker's book. It's pretty user-unfriendly though. Seems to me it might be better as a book for the initiated to come back to and say 'ahhh!' than for a the beginner it is advertised for.

  10. #9

    User Info Menu

    I picked A Modern Method - Leavitt, simply because it allowed me to read the others.

  11. #10

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by RonD
    I picked A Modern Method - Leavitt, simply because it allowed me to read the others.
    Well, ain't that true enough!

    Baker's books are great for a jazz beginner, not necessarily a beginner to guitar that's interested in jazz.

  12. #11

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    Baker's books are great for a jazz beginner, not necessarily a beginner to guitar that's interested in jazz.
    At the risk of hijacking the thread, what would people recommend in this latter category? This is where I live . . . I played jazz for years as a woodwind player, but only took up the guitar about a year ago. I've been working on strumming the chords in the Hal Leonard book "Best Jazz Standards Ever (Easy Guitar)", which is full of basic arrangements of standards using simple open-string voicings. It's a pretty good book (my instructor has become a fan of it over the past few months), but you can't do any quarter-note comping (for example) because of all of the open strings. When I look at the first page of Mickey Baker, my immediate thought is "there's no way my fingers will do THAT!".

  13. #12

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by jscjr64
    When I look at the first page of Mickey Baker, my immediate thought is "there's no way my fingers will do THAT!".
    I know the feeling, but it passes. It takes a while to get comfortable with some of those grips, but boy when you do, you'll have accomplished something! It's worth the effort.

  14. #13

    User Info Menu

    mickey baker for very early beginner. Later on Joe Pass Guitar Style. Those two are must haves

  15. #14

    User Info Menu

    Not for beginners --but I just picked up volume one of George van Eps harmony and the fingerboard book, which is 328 pages, and volume 2 is like 364 pages.THIS is the book I will be working with for years--it's incredible in terms of the application of theory to the fingerboard, two voice movements, the ability to play the guitar like a piano.When I showed it to my teacher yesterday, he immediately said, "that's the very Bible itself". many years ago, Mr. van Eps told him that this monumental work was, in fact, heavily edited--the original manuscripts were the size of phone books! My teacher also said that no one finishes these books, burn out occurs prior to the finish line.

    When I return to playing with a pick, I gotta hunt down my copy of "Sheets of Sound for Guitar"--I bought it a couple years ago, started working on it, promptly lent it to someone, and it has yet to be returned. I hope it's not lost!

    In terms of jazz, I recommend OTHER--anything by Bert Ligon.

    another great jazz --not guitar specific--book is "Forward Motion".
    Last edited by NSJ; 04-24-2011 at 09:20 PM.

  16. #15

    User Info Menu

    Are Joe Pass Guitar style and Joe Pass Guitar Method different books?

  17. #16
    Andrew Green has three books that are quite good: Jazz Guitar Technique, Jazz Guitar Comping, and Jazz Guitar Structures. They cover, respectively, Technique, Comping, and Soloing; the latter two come with CDs. These are the ones I am using as well as Peter Sprague's The Sprague Technique which is a nice, concise method book.

  18. #17

    User Info Menu

    There's no single book that comes to mind, but if I had to pick one, it would be the 2 volume Johnny Smith method. I picked it up in the early 70s, about the same time as Chord Chemistry and it was a whole lot less intimidating. I worked through both volumes and still pull it out from time to time. Shortly after that I concentrated on classical until the last few years, now I've forgotten most of what I once knew.

  19. #18

    User Info Menu

    Here's a link to Volume One of Smith's Guitar Method. I'm unfamiliar with it. Mel Bay The Complete Johnny Smith Approach to Guitar (9781562222390): Johnny Smith: Books

  20. #19

    User Info Menu

    I went for the Jody Fisher one. It's a pretty good series of books.

  21. #20

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by markerhodes
    Here's a link to Volume One of Smith's Guitar Method. I'm unfamiliar with it.
    That's the one, it used to be in two volumes. Bear in mind it's written in actual pitch so uses bass and treble clef, no tab. We sometimes forget that the guitar is actually a transposing instrument, sounding an octave lower than written. There are chord diagrams though.
    There weren't a lot of options in the early 70s, but if I had known about it I might have opted for the Mickey Baker book. I'm working through it now, although some things keep getting in the way, time wise.

  22. #21

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by brad4d8
    There weren't a lot of options in the early 70s, but if I had known about it I might have opted for the Mickey Baker book. I'm working through it now, although some things keep getting in the way, time wise.
    I'm working through the Mickey Baker book too. I had a copy decades ago and learned more from it than I realized at the time, but I never got through the first half of it (-the chord part.) Now, every day I give at least 15 minutes to something in the second part (-bridge solos this week) and something in the first (-intros). That may not sound like much time, but the gains are real. (And sometimes--a lot of times--I spend more than the minimum amount of time with the book; but I never skip a day, period.)

  23. #22

    User Info Menu

    how to adapt what i already knew...usable voicings, importance of space, functional comping patterns...

  24. #23

    User Info Menu

    Wow, I'd never even heard of that book.

  25. #24

    User Info Menu

    Wayne Krantz - "An Improvisor's OS." This book sets you up to be creative, original and self-reliant. By far the most unique approach to improv I've seen.

  26. #25

    User Info Menu

    I voted for Jody Fisher's book but I got frustrated and didn't finish it. I took lessons for a few months after giving up on the book and the teacher concentrated on songs (from the Real Book) and the theory behind the songs. Recently I returned to Fisher's book and found that it makes MUCH more sense to me now, but its still drab for my attention span.

    I also have the Arnie Berle Chords and Progressions book, but I've only used it for a reference. It has some great explanations, but I would not call it and instruction method. Arnie's book doesn't give you much to practice to master what you've just learned. He kind of leaves that to the student to map out on his own. I need a little more than that, which is why I needed a teacher.

    Returning to the books and jazz in general 6 years later, I'm still mapping out a beginner plan on my own. At least I know myself well enough to include lots of songs this time.

  27. #26

    User Info Menu

    Did anyone here go through Ted Greene's Single Note Soloing Book?
    It's the melody counterpart to his Chord Chemistry / Modern Chord Progressions Book.
    An incredible amount of instantly applicable melodic material, that makes you sound authentic rightaway

    In my opinion - and I figure a lot of people here share my point of view - most books tend to focus too much on theory.
    play dorian over m7, lydian over maj#11, and altered over dom7#9, yeah yeah we all got that. but where's those jazz sounding lines?

    so now i'm at the point where i'm just so grateful for books like the one i mentioned and mickey baker's book which is awesome too and just so practical. (and from the 50's - come on guys from the 50's and probably still not matched by many methods in terms of usefulness, unbelievable!)

    theory is important of course as we all know, but it doesn't exactly get you started to sound like a jazz guitarist in my opinion.

    so... did anyone get ted greene's book? (who was nothing short from being a musical genius btw... did you watch his autum leaves solo on youtube that evolves into a baroque improvisation thing)

  28. #27

    User Info Menu

    Most jazz books are not good for beginners to jazz with the exception of Mickey Baker's book.

  29. #28

    User Info Menu

    Yeah, Ted is awesome.

    I believe that you are asking about how to develop vocabulary. You will find some good books that help with this process. Currently I am going through Mel Bays Complete Book of Jazz Guitar Lines and Phrases by Sid Jacobs. I have found some beautiful idiomatic lines and sequences that can be extended to any set of intervals, not just the ones being referred to in the book. I have also found Don Mocks book on melodic minor and his studies on harmonic minor and h/w to be quite helpful. Also Joe Diorio has some really great books as does Mick Goodrick and Vic juris.

    Like Drumbler said, most jazz study books are not good beginners material. Also listen, transcribe and listen some more. The key to the material I have been studying is not using set licks or phrases over set chord sequences, it is about seeing what makes it tick in the first place and transcending those ideas into my real time playing. I spend hours picking this stuff apart, finger, re-finger, multiple finger everywhere. Learn how to apply these ideas at will. Easier said than done, but definitely doable. For me the more I hear this stuff over chords changes in tunes, the easier it becomes to identify and act without much thinking. To me that is what all the wood shedding is about. Vocabulary is the answer to playing jazz, not just sounding like it, IMHO.
    Last edited by brwnhornet59; 11-30-2011 at 01:08 AM.

  30. #29

    User Info Menu

    hello, thanks for your replies.

    rereading my post i can now see why you interpreted my post as an inquiry on developing jazz vocabulary.

    however, i'm not a beginner anymore, so that really wasn't my intention.
    i was just curious what you guys thought about the specific book by ted that i mentioned.

    >Most jazz books are not good for beginners to jazz with the exception of Mickey Baker's book.

    True, although looking at the first lesson of the book i wouldn't be sure if it really worked for people who are completely new to jazz. some of the chords mentioned are quite advanced, a few are hard to even play properly.
    but i second your point, there really is very little practical material for beginners to jazz.

  31. #30

    User Info Menu

    The chords in Mickey Baker Jazz Guitar II are really far out. Maybe Johnny Smith could play them.

  32. #31

    User Info Menu

    Dr.Willie Hill, Jr. has a 3-volume series called "Approaching the Standards" that some might find useful. It's NOT aimed at guitar players but at all who would learn jazz. It comes with a CD that offers two versions of 8 tunes: 1) full band 'jazz demo' version includes the head, and then a one-chorus solo (-two if it's a blues) that is transcribed and another one that is not (-for you to transcribe yourself). 2) The 'play along' rhythm-section version is performed without the head and solos, allowing you to play it with a band and see how you sound. In addition, sample "licks and tricks" are transcribed for each piece. One advantage of this over traditional play-alongs is that you hear the head played well and can pick up nuances of phrasing and dynamics that the lead sheet doesn't capture.

    Volume One contains "Billie's Bounce," "On The Trail," "Cantaloupe Island," "The Preacher," "Summertime," "Satin Doll," "C Jam Blues," and "I Got Rhythm."

    The solos are all played by horns, not guitars, but many idiomatic lines are used, teaching solid basic jazz vocabulary.

    I'm going to have to check out that Ted Greene book on soloing. I've never seen it. Sounds like what I need.

  33. #32

    User Info Menu

    >I'm going to have to check out that Ted Greene book on soloing. I've never seen it. Sounds like what I need.

    This book is so jam-packed with information it's scary.
    He also had quite an unconventional way of organizing it... it's logical, but extremely thorough, and he makes personal handwritten notes here and there that hint at even more depth..

    He was a maniac (i don't mean that in a negative way) and a musical genius.
    Ted wasn't just about jazz guitar, he was always about music in a broader sense dealing with all the hidden mysteries of music, and the interconnectedness of different styles.

  34. #33

    User Info Menu

    Had I found this poll while it was still open, I too would have had to say Mickey Baker. I have book 1 and 2 now, but had studied enough years ago to at least get the Major 7s and 6s and minor 7s and 6s and a few others into my hands and of course it's going to help a lot more now that I am really pursuing jazz guitar.

  35. #34

    User Info Menu

    Big props to Mickey Baker's book! Easy to understand, and has been a great guide to me as a beginner...


  36. #35

    User Info Menu

    Dang- I have not used hardly any of those books! I just went for Bert Ligon's connecting chords and some jazz theory books. Hal Galper's Forward Motion is fantastic- I wish I'd found it sooner. I just learned a lot of why and listened to tons of classic albums, I suppose.

  37. #36
    Nuff Said Guest
    Way back in the early 1980s, my first Jazz Guitar book was "Mickey Baker's Complete Course in Jazz Guitar: Book 1". I loved the book at the time, lost it and bought another. There are much better books available today.


  38. #37

    User Info Menu

    The most comprehensive and useful book for me was (and remains, after 55 years of playing) Guitar Lore, by Dennis Sandole, though it's really for more advanced players. I also liked the Johnny Smith books, and I think some of the DVD courses--Mimi Fox, Joe Pass, Pat Martino, and Jimmy Bruno's come to mind, but there are many other good ones.

  39. #38

    User Info Menu

    Arnie Berle books as well as books by Sal Salvador and Ike Issacs are worth looking into in addition to the ones already mentioned...

    Another is Vincent Bredice..has a few great books...IMO...

    time on the instrument..pierre

  40. #39

    User Info Menu

    Useful thread!! Thanks!!

    I have started with Mike Christiansen one and it is opening myself to jazz. I am learning a lot from it.

    The next one I will definitely use is the Leavitt one. Since I play guitar for 15 years but don't know how to really read music (very slowly, and no practice) and will let me read the other books.

    I will try to continue with the Mickey Baker's one you recommend so much.

    Thanks for this thread!

  41. #40

    User Info Menu

    I like very much : Introduction to Jazz Guitar Soloing by Joe Elliott. Centered on arpeggios, it is very well made.

  42. #41

    User Info Menu

    If I were suggesting a great chord book on jazz guitar, it would be Arnie Berle's book: Modern Chords and Progressions for Guitar, published by Amsco.
    What I really like about the book is that the lessons are presented using good voice leading through the use of inversions, going from one chord to the next.. Berle subtly wakes up your ears as you play through various chord progressions ;[ I7,VI7,II7,V7, Cycle of Fifths, etc.] in all keys.However, the only problem with the book is that the chords are played on strings six, four ,three and two. It would have been better had Berle presented the material on strings five three two and one as well as six four three and two. Arnie Berle does not stress reading and rightfully so, because the book is primarily geared to listening to the changes as you go through the material. Hence, you are conscious of what you hear as you go through the chord changes.
    It is unfortunate that the book is out of print. However, if you are lucky enough to see it for sale , buy it . I guarantee, you'll love it !! If you study this book very carefully, it will take months, if not years to thoroughly digest and apply.

  43. #42

    User Info Menu

    Just realized that this thread is two years old .....

    No wonder the poll is closed - although it is one that could stay open for ever.

    I have Schroedl's book and it's decent as an introduction to jazz and as a reference for scales, some chord shapes etc.

    I bought the Mickey Baker books years ago but they were of no use to me as I couldn't read standard to save my life. LOL!

    Started working on Leavitt's book(s) about a year ago to learn to read and get a better grip on (proper) playing technique.

    Recently discovered Garrison Fewell's "A Melodic Approach" and that's the one that really opened a door for me.

    Highly recommended!

  44. #43

    User Info Menu

    I have 3 or 4 of these books lined up and ready to go. I really liked the look and the presentation of the Mickey Baker books. Also, the George Van Eps Harmonic Mechanisms book 1, although daunting due to its size, has already been very helpful on some concepts that I either had problems with or had not fully pursued up til now. I am holding off on voting for a while. If this thread is still on the forums front page next year this time I may have an educated opinion on it. But, I am at least encouraged that I have the books that everyone seems to agree are the core of larning Jazz.

  45. #44

    User Info Menu

    I have the Mickey Baker book and when I went through it, found that although the chord progressions
    that he uses are very good, he doesn't mention anything regarding voice leading.
    However, for a player who doesn't care too much about harmony and theory, the book is good.
    The chords and chord changes are up to date.

  46. #45

    User Info Menu

    "talk jazz guitar" by Roni Ben-Hur, examples in standard notation and tabs, very very good book....

  47. #46

    User Info Menu

    It's been 4 1/2 years... any exceptional method books for the jazz pianist getting into jazz guitar arpeggios and chord tone connecting? Like a Bert Ligon for guitar book that's not too hard.
    Last edited by rintincop; 09-02-2018 at 12:36 AM.

  48. #47
    Cory Christiansen's books from Aebersold have gotten a lot of mentions over the years and are absent from this I think. Don't have them myself...

  49. #48

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher
    Cory Christiansen's books from Aebersold have gotten a lot of mentions over the years and are absent from this I think. Don't have them myself...
    Corey re-factored Jamey's Volume 1 for guitar Not only is it a great starting point, it's one I keep coming back to over the years as I progress. Title is: Volume 1 - Jazz Guitar by Jamey Aerbersold, Adapted by Corey Christiansen.

    Another I relied on was Easy Jazz Guitar - Voicings and Comping by Mike DiLiddo (published by Jamey Aerbersold). This book provides multiple voicings (from simple chords with roots on the 6th and 5th string) to upper stucture chords including quartal harmonies for all the tunes in Volume 54: Maiden Voyage. Consider this one a roadmap to surviving Jamey's Summer Jazz Workshop.

    Highly recommend the books and the Workshops.

  50. #49

    User Info Menu

    I bought Mickey Baker's book in 1972/3 as I was going to University and so could obviously become a great jazz guitarist at the same time...(ha!).

    Although I learned some really useful voicings which I use today, even using them to make some good money once, I found the absence of any application to the jazz canon (which I didn't know much of, another problem) a problem to keep motivated e.g. the Am7/6 stuff wasn't used to introduce iiVs (from memory). So, I'd say it is of limited use.

    The book I like is The Jazz Sound by Dan Haerle.

  51. #50

    User Info Menu

    Mickey Baker's method was my first, very effective, though untheoretical. immediate success to play with others without being an advanced guitarist. I have since had dozens of other methods, those of my teacher Pierre Cullaz having made me the most progress regarding chords. Joe Pass, no. Howard Roberts, yes. So is Barney Kessel... and then others, Van Eps, Ted Greene, Jimmy Wyble, but in a very particular style, the solo