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Discussion: Best Scale and Chord books?


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I just wondered what everyone else thinks about the ideal scale and chord books on the market. Just a few observations:


Adam Kadmon - Scales & Modes / Guitar Encyclopedia: /Pub: Carl Fischer

I'm a fan of Adam's books, but they are a tad quirky and not super user friendly. The Scale & Modes book is beyond thorough, but I do feel it does have its faults. Firstly, I really would have liked him to have included open strings in the patterns - everything begins at the 1st fret and beyond, whereas I like to include open strings in my shapes. The biggest flaw, though is the size of the diagrams - they really are too small and I find myself hand writing out favorite scales on bigger diagrams which I've printed up. I realise that making them bigger would have increased the page count or reduced the number of scales significantly, but maybe that would have been a better compromise.


The Chord Encyclopedia - again amazingly full of info and for some reason isn't quite as hard to read as his scale book - probably because the fretboard diagrams aren't as busy. I particularly like the moveable chords which are very useful. On the downside, I don't like the use unusual chord symbols which look clunky and are bit confusing, such as the delta triangular symbol for maj7 - you literally NEVER see that in any songbook I've ever come across. Ditto Quartal (double 4th) - very unusual beast! I would also have liked Adam to have included fingering number (i.e. 1, 2, 3 and 4). This is less of a problem for experienced players, but beginners might be doing a fair bit of head scratching, especially with the barrés.


Both books need a LOT of study and probably aren't suitable for beginners or beginner/intermediate players. I do like them though, despite their quirkiness!


Chad Johnson / Pub: Hal Leonard

Incredible Scale Finder: Nowhere near as complex as Adam's books, but Chad gets down to the nitty gritty in my opinion in a more accessible way. Much bigger diagrams for those us without super 20/20 vision. Fewer scales to contend with, concentrating on the most useful (major, modal scales, major pent etc.). Only thing I'm in two minds about though is separating the scales into keys, rather than a section for each scale, which would seem a tad more logical. Also Chad has included open strings in his patterns, which Adam didn't, which is a thumbs up from me. The biggest criticism some might level at Chad's book is it's a bit limited if you want to work with unusual or exotic scales. (incidentally, Chad isn't always credited on the Hal Leonard titles, but most of the books on these themes will generally be his).


Incredible Chord Finder: Another very accessible book with lovely large chord windows in. Again, there aren't as many different chord types as there are in Adam's book, but what is there is very clear.


Tobe A. Richards / Pub: Cabot Books

Guitar Chord Bible: Just got this one recently after owning several of Tobe's other books for fretted instruments (tenor guitar, baritone uke, baritone guitar etc.). The book much like Adam's tome, has a stack of chords in it (over 3,000) with well over 60 different types in each key. The diagrams are a lot bigger than the Grimoire book, which again is a plus. They also seem a lot easy to locate. There are at least 3 versions of each chord, with some as many as 6, so you won't be short of chord positions. He also includes a whole heap of moveable shapes to supplement the regular chords, which I find very useful. Another thing that Tobe includes that aren't present in the other two books are major and minor slash chords in all keys with every single slash note - a nice addition + a bunch of open string chords, which are a lot of fun. Incidentally, if you're a fretted instrument obsessive like me, Tobe's Fretted Friends Series of Chord Bibles are probably the only source for chord dictionaries (Cabot Books)outside the norm. Tenor guitar, bari guitar, charango, cuatro etc. Nice books and like Chad's books, very accessible. I think there's a lefty version of the book as well. Incidentally, don't confuse this Guitar Chord Bible with another of the same name, which only has about 500 chords in.


I've got quite a few others, but these are my main sources of info. Each has it's plusses and minuses, If you can afford all of them, you won't go far wrong! But a quick recommendation: Adam's books: upper intermediate level/advanced. Chad's books: beginner/intermediate. Tobe's book: progressive beginner/intermediate/advanced.

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