Imagination can often be more valuable than knowledge, it’s true; but it’s through the application of knowledge that great ideas are forged into reality. Offering a fantastic catalogue to enhance anyone’s knowledge of music, Alfred keeps releasing new materials that greatly serve the musician of the 21st century.
The Ultimate Guitar Tone Handbook, written by Bobby Owsinski and Rich Tozzoli, has been recently released with the goal to completely demystify this string instrument that has lured our ears for centuries. Fast forward centuries from its birth, starting in the 40’s, guitars have developed to become a cultural icon for modern music, the instrument through which a major part of our music is now composed, and the first instrument that many legendary musicians have started to play music on.
I had the chance to check out The Ultimate Guitar Tone Handbook and the knowledge I acquired has certainly directed me on the path toward the Holy Grail of guitar tone. Here are a few words on the book.
Overview – The Ultimate Guitar Tone Handbook is divided in three main sections. Part one, dedicated to electric guitars and amplifiers; part two, concentrating on acoustic guitars and other instruments in the guitar family, and part three; featuring interviews with accomplished producers, musicians, manufacturers and technicians.
Part one and two evolves from introducing a little of the background of the instrument, quickly taking the reader on a journey through history to see how this instrument evolved into what it is today, citing many of the names that help shape its destiny.
Bobby and Rich follow with a deep dive into the construction specifics of guitars, demonstrating how different types of wood affect the overall tone of the final product for example; amps, explaining why a Marshall and a Fender amp sound different, strings; citing the impact of its gauges and its resulting sound: and cables, emphasizing its length consequences. The authors really are able to get the reader to experience how every little detail has impact on the final product and the resulting sound of the instrument.
After being drowned in a sea of technicality, readers will be able to check out a few of the most commonly used miking techniques, distinguishing ways to best capture up close, ambient, and stereo guitar sounds.
Both of these segments finalize with the introduction of some of the most used guitar production techniques and concepts. Doubling, layering, EQing and effect processing are a few of the subjects mentioned in these chapters.
Part three presents the reader with some very interesting and informative interviews with important names in the guitar world such as Dick Boak of Martin Guitars, Jim D’addario, guitarist Al Di Meola and recording engineer Chuck Ainlay.
The Ultimate Guitar Tone Handbook also features a bonus DVD that brings a one-on-one interview with pedalboard grand-master Bob Bradshaw and two videos with Rich Tozzoli demonstrating a few of the production techniques discussed in the book as applied to two of his own songs. Audio files of the songs are also included on the DVD.
Opinion – First I have to mention how much I liked the flow of this book. The chapters evolve in a comprehensive and very enjoyable way, although I think the section about acoustic guitars would fit better as a part one of the book instead of being the part two (this just seems a more logical progression).
The information provided in this handbook is surely valid to anyone who loves to play this instrument, records this instrument or whoever wants to completely understand all the details that shape the sound of guitars.
I wouldn’t say that this book is all that you need to create the most amazing guitar sound you will ever hear in your life, but it will certainly help you to get there and help you to better appreciate what goes into achieving sound quality. The Ultimate Guitar Tone Handbook offers quality information that will serve as a solid base for development of any guitar player or guitar recording artist’s imagination.
Cons – The only downside of this book is that comes with black & white pages. It wouldn’t be big issues if it wasn’t for the fact that it comes with so many illustrations throughout the chapters. Especially in the interview with Dick Boaks where he describes all the different types of wood that acoustic guitars can be made of. The illustrations, which were suppose to help you identify each kind of wood, look just like dark boxes. Color pages would definitely enhance the reader’s experience, while understandably increasing this book market price.
Who will like – Guitar players and guitar lovers alike. Audio engineers and producers, be they working on a professional level or home studio environment. Guitar students and instructors.
Who won’t – This is not a “magic formula” book. It will define the ingredients, it’s up to you to mix them up to taste and ultimately find the sweetness of a great guitar tone.