The Art of Contemporary Travis Picking: How to Play the Alternating Bass Fingerpicking Style (Bk & CD) Reviews

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  1. Raj says:
    159 of 161 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Truly a jewel, November 23, 2004
    By 
    Raj (India) –
    This review is from: The Art of Contemporary Travis Picking: How to Play the Alternating Bass Fingerpicking Style (Bk & CD) (Paperback)

    Mark Hanson is considered to be amongst the top instructors today in the fingerstyle domain. He regularly holds fingerstyle workshops and has authored over 30 books and videos, all on the same subject – fingerstyle guitar. He has also interviewed several fingerstyle authorities such as Leo Kottke and James Taylor.

    This book is considered by many as the leading fingerstyle instruction book. There are several very excellent reasons for the high number of votes Characters books receive; and WHY you should buy this book.

    1. Travis picking (alternate bass with melody) is the foundation of fingerstyle guitar. Nearly every fingerstyle guitarist from Rev. Gary Davis to Muddy Waters to Robert Johnson to Leo Kottke and Chet Atkins has used the Travis picking method. This book is the bible of Travis picking.

    2. The book requires no knowledge of the instrument. I couldn’t switch chords comfortably when I received this book. In fact I only knew the C and G chords. With some patience and determination I learnt more than 30 chords by the time I was at the end of the book, and obviously I also learnt to switch linking them effortlessly.

    3. Mark lays out very most likely examples throughout the book to ensure you are progressing the right way. There is a practice song after every chapter to make certain you are comfortable maintaining the rhythm and will face no difficulty if you run into a similar try out in any other song outside of the book. The instruction is very clear and there is absolutely no ambiguity even for a novice. It’s very nearly like the instigator is holding your hand throughout. I am no dazzling guitarist (read no natural flair) and had no teachers while I was using this book. I waded through it without any major hold-ups. There is also a CD included where Mark plays the pieces at both half and full speeds. If you have heard `Dust in the Wind’ by Kansas; after only a week with this book you’ll be able to play that song, albeit not at routine speed.

    4. The book has a sequel; the Art of Solo Fingerpicking. The sequel is for intermediate/advanced fingerpickers only. The sequel ensures you get to learn the most complex fingerpicking techniques, including breaking out of try out playing (i.e. Travis Picking). Once you have mastered both the books playing fingerstyle guitar in any genre (blues, jazz, classical, people, folk etc.) will be unchallenging. Of course this is not simple and will take time; but the results will leave you fulfilled.

    5. Mark is a wonderful person. I had a query regarding the use of thumbpicks and fingernails and shot him a mail. He immediately answered back and addressed the query in detail. It’s nice to know you can repose faith in the instigator/instructor and he is there to tackle any issues you have. Further, he runs a website accentonmusic.com which carries articles on fingernails, amplification of acoustic guitars, contemporary music, newsletters, etc. all of which are really useful. There are tons of assets on the web, but only so few are reliable. Also, it’s tough to judge an instigator by a single book. Every book of Mark is really enjoyable and he has a truckload of material to offer. I was a huge zero with music scheme and Mark has promised to write a book on that (he’s graduated in Music). Can’t wait to get hold of it.

    6. I own as many as 8 other `bestselling’ fingerstyle books for beginners and intermediates and a few videos too. Only one book comes anywhere close – Beginning Fingerstyle Blues – by Arnie Berle. Even that one does not specify how many fingers to use, right hand position, thumbpicks or not etc. You will certainly require answers to these once you take the plunge. Fortunately Characters book takes excellent care of the reader here. His passion for fingerstyle is contagious.

    When you buy an instruction book, the most vital investment you make is your time. You don’t want to follow an instruction book devotedly for 6 months only to realise there is a better book out there; it leaves you in self-doubt and may hinder your progress. You will by no means be in a quandary with this book. Very few books have information pouring out of every page. Such books are priceless and will stand the test of time. The Art of Contemporary Travis Picking is one such book. Written in 1986, it works wonders even today – nearly 20 years later.

    If fingerstyle guitar eludes you, buy or borrow this book. I promise you will be smiling ear to ear after carrying out the instructions. It’s simple, many have done it, and so can you!

    Very highly recommended!

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  2. Catherine says:
    50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Mark is tops: this book is like taking lessons with him!, January 11, 2002
    By 
    Catherine (San Jose, CA United States) –
    Amazon Verified Hold(http://www.amazon.com/gp/community-help/amazon-verified-purchase/181-6730614-9927340', ‘AmazonHelp’, ‘width=400,height=500,resizable=1,scrollbars=1,toolbar=0,status=1′);return false; “>What’s this?)
    This review is from: The Art of Contemporary Travis Picking: How to Play the Alternating Bass Fingerpicking Style (Bk & CD) (Paperback)

    I had the privilege of taking weekly lessons for a year and a half with Mark. He brought me to the point of not only easily picking James Taylor, John Denver and CSN tunes but also playing the complex instrumentals of Leo Kotke, William Ackermann and others. All in 1.5 years!!

    Mark is a patient, thorough, kind and absolutely top notch teacher. He first started me out on this book (I could only play basic chords before then). How the book is written is as precise and clear as he is in person.

    Culture guitar could be very frustrating. Before meeting Mark, I had invested in many guitar books and instructional videos. I now rate them all a C+ compared to this book which is a solid A.

    Going through “The Art of Contemporary Travis Picking” is like taking lessons directly with Mark. It’s that excellent.

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  3. S. Hawkins says:
    35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
    2.0 out of 5 stars
    Not the best of Mark Hanson, January 25, 2007
    By 
    S. Hawkins (Lansing, MI USA) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    Amazon Verified Hold(http://www.amazon.com/gp/community-help/amazon-verified-purchase/181-6730614-9927340', ‘AmazonHelp’, ‘width=400,height=500,resizable=1,scrollbars=1,toolbar=0,status=1′);return false; “>What’s this?)
    This review is from: The Art of Contemporary Travis Picking: How to Play the Alternating Bass Fingerpicking Style (Bk & CD) (Paperback)

    I’ll make it clear that I am a right fan of Mark Hanson and his instructional style. But, I simply don’t care for this book compared to his others.

    I find the accompanying CD to be loaded with a LOT of vocals while being weak on solo guitar tracks. I don’t know that I’m like everyone else but when I buy a guitar instruction book, I want to learn how to make my guitar sing not take note to someone else sing. When culture a particular piece of music it is helpful to hear how it is supposed to be played. On this CD, the vocals squash any chance of that happenning. If you happen to play it on equipment with an equalizer of some sort you can tune down most of the vocals but regardless, I don’t want to hear vocal accompaniment when I’m tiresome to study the instrument involved.

    Personally, my recommendation is to start with Mr. Hanson’s “Beyond Basics” Fingerstyle book/cd with a go directly to his “The Art of Solo Fingerpicking” book/cd. If you want to learn fingerstyle, these two will get you much further down the road than his “Travis Picking” book.

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