Sunday, May 24, 2009

Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar by Troy Stetina -- Book Review

Troy Stetina's Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar is one of those books that's been around for a long time and yet doesn't seem to lose momentum.

First published in 1990 and originally issued with a cassette tape(!) for the recorded musical examples, I've seen more illegally photocopied versions of this book than any other. Except maybe for the original The Real Book which was an underground publication and illegal to begin with. Having one's work copied so extensively is perhaps the greatest form of flattery, albeit backhanded.

This is a book about technique, with great emphasis on development of right hand picking and, more importantly, the synchronization of the left and right hand at the higher reaches of the metronome.

The great thing about Stetina's method is that it starts out with very basic but often overlooked fundamentals, progressing in difficulty in a logical, linear fashion. One can't help but notice from the outset that Stetina is somewhat of a 'technique scientist'. And nothing in the area of technique escapes his expert analysis.

Starting out with single-string technique development to lay the basic groundwork, he progresses to simple string-crossing exercises across two strings, cyclical patterns and sweep picking.

With this book, Stetina coined the terms 'inside' and 'outside' picking, 'transition time' and 'speed bursts'. By identifiying and extrapolating on these concepts he shows how they can be applied to isolate technical problems so that they can be fixed gradually over time. Much better than just running mindless scales if you ask me.

Highly recommended!

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