The Guitarist’s Almanac: All You Need to Know (And Oughtta Know)

The Guitarist’s Almanac: All You Need to Know (And Oughtta Know) About Being a Guitarist

by Alan di Perna

Getting Great Guitar Sounds: A Non-Technical Approach to Shaping Your Personal Sound

by Michael Ross

Hal Leonard Publishing

Like the swans’ yearly return to Capistrano, April represents the annual reprise of everybody’s favorite four week party, National Guitar Month. And to help us celebrate this special month, we’ve loaded this issue’s gear page with a bunch of guitar products sure to titillate your wildest guitar fantasies.

Front and center for Guitar Month are two books from Hal Leonard Publishing: The Guitarist’s Alamanac: All You Need to Know (And Ought to Know) About Being a Guitarist by Alan di Perna ($12.95) and Michael Ross’s Getting Great Guitar Sounds: A Non-Technical Approach to Shaping Your Personal Sound ($14.95). Of the two guitar books, my favorite is the one from di Perna. Jammed with all kinds of useful information in an easy-to-read format, The Guitarist’s Almanac is essential reading for any player. Do you want an abbreviated history of the development of the guitar? It’s here. Why do guitars sound the way the do? It’s here. What about how necks affect tone or scale length and string gauge? It’s all here. Other topics covered include how to read charts, chord diagrams, creative strategies, alternate tunings, building a guitar rig, anatomy of a gig, and much, much more. Author di Perna, one of America’s most respected journalists, with 18 years of experience penning articles for Billboard , Creem , Guitar Player , Keyboard , Mix , Musician , Raygun and Rolling Stone , has crafted a must-read book that is as fun as it is informative.

Getting Great Guitar Sounds is a bit more technical in style and substance, but still very well-written and logically and clearly laid out. The book is broken down down in two parts: “The Guitar” and “The Effects.” Part One gives you the nuts and bolts of instrument design–tuning machines, nuts, frets, picks, strings, etc.–and also delves into the electronics side of things with sections on pick-ups, wiring systems, amplifiers and speakers. Part Two represents the bulk of the text and is divided into four chapters. Two of the chapters cover effects processors and discusses all of the usual processor types including compression, distortion, delay lines, reverbs and pitch shifting. Chapter Five, “Putting It All Together,” offers just what the title suggests; how to put your guitar rig together. And the book’s final chapter talks about vintage guitars, amps and effects and why it can be an advantage to use some of these earlier models. Michael Ross, a guitarist, producer, and writer living in San Francisco, also has included several interesting appendices explaining how the legendary guitar heroes crafted their unique signature sounds.

Hal Leonard Publishing, 777 W. Bluemound Rd., P.O. Box 13819, Milwaukee, WI 53213, http://www.halleonard.com

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