Russ Shipton,
The Complete Blues
& Ragtime Guitar Player

(Music Sales, 1996)

I have no doubt The Complete Blues & Ragtime Guitar Player is a good book. But as a beginning guitarist, if it were not that I've spent almost a year teaching myself how to play classical guitar, this book would be even more frustrating. It has many examples of songs by old blues masters -- but that's not really why I bought it. I bought if for the word "ragtime" in the title as I am a big ragtime fan; I have been since my childhood, when I spent seven years on piano lessons -- many of which included ragtime tunes.

Since picking up the guitar I've been very interested in learning how to translate some of the fun, snappy feel of piano rags to the guitar. In this, I was disappointed. While technically the title is correct, there are actually only two ragtime pieces in the whole book -- every other piece is blues, something I just don't have as much interest in playing. For someone interested in blues then this could possibly be an interesting book. For learning ragtime it is lacking.

The instruction itself is solid, the strum patterns, notes, tablature and standard notation are clear. But it would help had there been an accompanying CD. A lot of the songs are from old blues guitarists, most of whom I've never heard before although their names are familiar. Intermediate guitarists wanting to learn blues will enjoy this book. But if you want to learn ragtime guitar, keep looking.

- Rambles
written by Dana Fletcher
published 1 March 2003

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