Tom Kolb - Chord Progressions for Guitar

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Chord Progressions for Guitar: An Introduction to Many Styles of Rhythm Guitar

Dec 2, 2005 (Updated Dec 7, 2005)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:A good reference in many styles of rhythm for the beginner.

Cons:Maybe some musical references outside of the popular music genre.

The Bottom Line: Good place to start if you're beginning rhythm guitar.


Chord Progressions for Guitar is a handy book designed to introduce popular forms of rhythm guitar to a beginning guitar player. Super session man Tom Kolb has put together 101 chord progressions from rock to funk that emphasize traditional rhythms in a relatively (to the beginner) easy to grasp manner.

Here is an overview of the styles of guitar covered within the book:

Chapter 1 - Country

This chapter has all of the elements of traditional country which include straight eighth-note rhythms and the open position chord voicings. The first three arrangements teach some basics mechanics but remain fun to play, in fact a lot of my beginning students really enjoy playing these rhythms. The fourth arrangement utilizes the classic Travis picking and is not so easy for a beginner but can be learned with practice.

Chapter 2 - Fingerstyle Acoustic

This is definitely a challenge if you are learning fingerstyle for the first time. Travato does an excellent job of explaining the mechanics of fingerpicking and the details of the arrangements on every song. The chapter boasts nine arrangements that will definitely have you practicing if you want to play them well. Some of the more enjoyable arrangements include "Fig Tree Rag" and "Pedal-Tone Riffs".

Chapter 3 - Blues

The Blues section introduces only nine rhythms to the guitarist in the vast scope of Blues rhythm guitar. Travato explains the theory of Blues harmony then proceeds to teach the rhythms. If this chapter has you interested in learning more Blues rhythms, pick up Basic Blues Guitar by the same author. Basic Blues Guitar is a much more comprehensive book on solely teaching Blues rhythms and the best I've seen on the subject.

Chapter 4 - Rock

One thing you have to keep in mind is that the book was published in 2000, so the definition of Modern Rock has changed somewhat. The Rock chapter divides the rhythms in four major categories:

I. Rock and Roll - Chuck Berry, George Thorogood, Led Zeppelin styles are included
II. Classic Rock - Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones style.
III. Hard Rock - Angus Young of AC/DC style.
IV. Modern Rock - Nirvana, Dishwalla, Alanis Morrisette, Third Eye Blind styles.

Travato focuses on rock rhythms that have been recorded over the past 35 years or so. This is a good place to start in learning some classic rhythms of rock. Another plus is Travato does an excellent job articulating the mechanics of reproducing the sounds of these artists faithfully.

Chapter 5 - Latin/Brazilian

Travato transcribes five very useful sections in this chapter. Among all of the great rhythm transcriptions, the chapter features the Samba Clave and some variations. These types of rhythms are a lot of fun to play and it's too bad that Steve doesn't point out some songs that incorporate these rhythms geared to exposing the guitarist to potentially new material.

Chapter 6 - Jazz & Swing

This chapter is divided in four sections:

I. Four-to-the-Bar - Freddy Green style of Count Basie Fame
II. Walking Bass
III. Turnaround
IV. II-V7-I-IV Progressions

Like the Blues, all rhythms are triplet oriented thus like the title states the rhythms swing. The arrangements are excellent and the mechanics for playing them are clearly outlined.

Chapter 7 - Funk

Seventeen rhythms are included in the Funk chapter. Rhythms in this genre are usually sixteenth note rhythms as illustrated in all of Travato's material. Again, Travato does an excellent of walking you through the rhythms which include chord rhythms and single-stop type rhythms as well.

If you really like this kind of music, I can't think of a better reason among many to learn to rhythm read. You will definitely want to practice this with a metronome and perhaps consider using a softer gauge pick; it doesn't work for everyone but it works for me.

Travato's book does include a CD that teaches the rhythms included in the book. It's too bad that rhythms outside of the popular music genre weren't accompanied by actual songs but I imagine that would have been a licensing nightmare. When I teach guitar, I always use musical examples from actual songs and/or instrumentals, I've concluded that the credibility of actual music establishes a level of faith in your students for your curriculum.

If you're a more experience player, this book may be too rudimentary. If you teach and you're like me having resources at your disposal, I think there is good information you can add to your curriculum. Besides, you can never have too many books.



Recommend this product? Yes


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