Using Both Fretboard Theory and Guitar Theory For Dummies

Guitar Theory For Dummies

Using Both Fretboard Theory and Guitar Theory For Dummies

Below is an email from an actual customer. He purchased both Fretboard Theory and Fretboard Theory Volume II plus the book I authored for Wiley, Guitar Theory For Dummies. Since these books all cover a similar range, I asked this reader for his take on using them together. Here are his complete words unedited. I should point out that Fretboard Theory Volume II is actually purple, not blue.

“Hello Desi

I hope you are coping well with the cold weather. Let me wish you a Happy New Year and I hope your holidays were great.
It has been very cold here in Southern Ontario. The power went out at my house a couple of times over Christmas but at least things weren’t as bad as in Toronto.

True to my words I read both the red and blue books and wish to give you my opinion. Yes the scope was the same as the dummies book but they were much more in depth. It took about a week of evenings to get through the red book and about 3 weeks to get through the blue one. My previous knowledge of theory comes from about 4 or 5 other theory books and I am glad I had read them before your books. But nothing has tied it all together and cleared up the loose ends like I have found in your three books. I could give many examples of how they have helped me; for instance I was surprised to find that technically the twelve bar blues chords are not actually in any one key, that they are in fact three different Mixolydian modes. Here is another; the 1, 4 and 5 chords use all the notes from the major scale. Also; the major pentatonic scale uses 5 notes from each of the three major modes. The minor pentatonic scale uses 5 notes from each of the three minor modes. I have been also learning the piano lately and I was surprised that (I think it was just in the dummies book) you picked out that chord change that Lennon, in Imagine, makes from III 7 to IV as I have wondered about it and thought he was a genius for writing it. Anyway, I could literally go on and on about the stuff I learned. Now I spend many evenings trying to make the scales sound like music! I realize this takes a lot of practice and your inclusion of song lists with keys is an incredible help.

The red book was fairly easy to get through, I think I found the odd minor typo in it but nothing crucial. Much of the info in it is also in the dummies book. To tell you the truth, the red book seems so long ago. Most of the material is to be found in the Dummies book but it definitely re-enforced it. This book I recall went far further in song analysis. I really enjoyed learning to figure out modes and parent scales to songs and sections of songs. I have my Beatles fake book on standby for just such a task.

The blue book was a whole different kettle of fish! Many nights my head was swimming (no pun intended) with extensions of the pentatonic scales! This book was a lot to handle but I found that when I put it down I was able to work things out from the pentatonic and major scale patterns. But it will take a great deal of practice. Lately I am taken with the Dorian and Mixolydian modes.
I did notice this book had a few more typos, most of which you have likely caught such as chapter 5 where the diminished chords are tabbed as half diminished (thanks for your e-mail on that one!). Also, on the heading on page 158 says i-bVI-bVII Chord Progressions but I think it should read i-iv-v Chord Progressions. And somewhere, I forget where, you credited Bob Denver to a John Denver song. Bob Denver was the guy who played Gilligan on Gilligan’s Island TV series. Incidentally, John’s real name was John Deutchendorff. But he wrote some of the most beautiful country/folk songs. I am old enough to remember him in his heyday. These were the only major typos. I think there were 3 or 4 other little ones (words).

How could you improve these books? The only thing I was hoping for that I did not see was a section on chord substitutions that includes tritone substitutions and substitutions of the chords all within the harmonized scale chords; ie I think, in major, iim can repace IV and iiim can replace I (or something like that, I cant really remember). I think this would compliment your section on substitution.

So I will be sure to try and give a review on Amazon. These books (all three) are just fantastic and I feel lucky to have discovered them. For me they may be the final word on all the theory I will want to learn for now anyway. I will be constantly using them for reference for years to come. I’m sure I will have questions for you in the future. Good luck and thanks for these wonderful books.

Glenn Martin

Please forgive my own typos here as I am writing late at night!”

My response to Glenn follows.

“Glenn, thanks so much for the email. This is great feedback. In fact, if you don’t mind I’m going to post it to my blog. If you also post it to Amazon I would really appreciate it. I think other guitarists that are looking for instructional materials will be interested in everything you have to say. Let me know when you get it posted and I’ll share the link.

Regarding your questions, I talk about tritone substitutions in Fretboard Theory Volume II Chapter 5, specifically page 87 under the heading “Diminished Chords As V7 Substitutions.” As far as subbing chords in the major scale, any major chord can be subbed for its relative minor and vice versa. So in the key of G you can try subbing G/Em, C/Am, and D/Bm.

Let me know if you need further help.”

Learn more about Guitar Theory For Dummies and Fretboard Theory.

Comments ( 2 )

  • Wietse Vis

    totally agree with Glenn. No guitarist will be a dummy after having studied fetboard 1 and 2. Grea stuff, altead convinced friends in europe to subscribe.

  • Dr. Dieter H Hornemann

    I agree with everything stated above. Your music theory books, Fret Board Knowledge, and how they pertain to the guitar are the best and most comprehensive books I have discovered on the web. I have studied theory for a number of years and have a good mental grasp on general music theory. Fretboard knowledge as applied to the guitar has improved my guitar playing , and has given me the confidence to jam and be accepted among guitar players far better that myself. As a result the confidence in my guitar playing has increased to another level. This allows me to learn first hand in real time from those guitarists that that have allowed me to play with them. Thanks Desi your books “Fretboard Knowledge have made this possible for me.