Back in May 2008 I reviewed a book called “ The Guitar Lesson Companion ” by Susan Palmer, since then Susan’s books have been used worldwide by guitar teachers and students so Susan set about creating a second volume as a continuation of the first book divided up into three parts: Part One: Music Theory, Part Two: Improvisation and Part Three: Chords, stylistic studies and scales. All the examples are in standard music notation by the way so if you can’t read music I suggest you look at Volume 1 first.

Part One mainly deals with scales, explaining how they are constructed with some worksheets to complete which will help guitar students learn the major key scales, triads and 7th chords. There are also a whole load of worksheets to help you identify intervals such as fifths, sixths and sevenths and whether they are major or minor. Following these are some worksheets that help the student identify Major, Minor, Augmented and Diminished triads before moving on to an extensive section about Modes. The Modes section explains not only modes of the Major scale but also modes of the Melodic and Harmonic Minor scales too so it gets pretty technical in places but the layout and explanations are clear and concise. This section of the book concludes with a look at the Diminshed, Dominant Diminshed, Whole Tone scales with some explanations about application and of course you can practice what you are learning using the jam tracks on the included CD.

Part two covers Improvisation which has a number of backing tracks and notated chord changes along with a list of scale patterns that can be used with each, Susan provides worksheets for the scales that are going to be used so that you get used to working out exactly what notes are in each scale and how to notate this on paper including the chord tones before launching into a solo. All of the examples are also accompanied by scale box pattern diagrams in various positions on the fretboard too for a quick reference. Each subsection is a different key so that you get used to improvising in every key rather than sticking to the safe keys that us guitarists love to hover around.

The final part of the book begins with a section on chords and a very useful exercise of notating triads in various positions of the guitar neck using standard chord box diagrams, so for instance you are given the root, 1st inversion and 2nd inversion patterns of a Major triad starting on the 6th string and then have to write out the Minor, Augmented and Diminished triads, a very useful exercise. Susan then builds on these basic triads by introducing chords for big band and swing jazz music including minor and major 7th triads, major and minor 6th triads and diminished 7th triads. The worksheets in this section are to help you visualize chord patterns in every key all over the neck, something which most guitarists wouldn’t have a hope in doing but following this simple method will help you commit this information to memory.

This book is called a guitar lesson companion for a reason, yes you could work through this yourself but the chances are you are going to get lazy and cut corners so it is going to be much more beneficial if you work through this book with a guitar teacher who can not only explain some of the more complicated concepts but also make sure you are working through the book at a pace that allows you to really take everything in.

For more information about the book and author Susan Palmer check out – http://guitaristsusanpalmer.blogspot.com/ and to purchase the book head over to http://www.leadcatpress.com/ .


Tom Quayle has just released yet another jam packed lesson full of fusion goodness using the Diminished Scale, the great thing about this scale is that it translates to Rock and Metal too so you don’t need to be a Jazz player in order to start integrating some of this lessons ideas into your playing.

As per usual Tom’s lesson package comes with a full HD lesson video, actually in this case two full HD videos. There are also PDFs of all the material covered in the videos, a folder of mp3′s for each of the licks covered in the 2nd video (I’ll come to that in a minute) and a set of 8 backing tracks, the main G7 backing track has full speed and slow versions and the other tracks instead include a sample solo so you can hear how the scales can be used.

Both videos are accompanied by PDFs to read along to or reference while watching the video, the first includes an explanation of the Diminished scale, how it is constructed and some fretboard diagrams as well as tabs of scale patterns, triads and arpeggio patterns. Tom also covers Diminished chord voicings and how to incorporate the diminished chord into a simple progression and a cool little trick for playing the diminished scale over the diminished chord without having to use the whole/half scale. Tom also goes into detail on how and when you can use the scale over a dominant 7th chord with rules that will help you, this includes a little flow chart in the PDF which breaks down the explanation into a really easy way to ascertain whether or not you can use the diminished half/whole scale over a particular dominant 7th chord. Tom also includes a list of extended chords that you can use with this scale. There is a lot of theory in this lesson and PDF for all of you who really want to get a firm grasp of how and when you can use Diminished scales. Having this information available in both video and pdf formats is really useful, first watch the video listen and watch Tom explain everything with guitar in hand and then refer to the PDF to read to help the information sink in more and of course use it while watching the video to see the scale & arpeggio patterns as well as chord voicings being used.

If you just want to get stuck into some cool Diminished licks there is another HD Video and PDF too which is a set of 10 really cool diminished licks that you can play over the main G7 Backing track I just talked about, Tom plays these licks first at full speed he then breaks each lick down and shows you very slowly how the lick is constructed and how to play it using the correct picking and fingering. Each lick has an mp3 track so you can quickly reference or loop the track to play along too without the video which is a nice addition. With each of these licks Tom plays them exactly as they are in the PDF Tab the first time through and then the second time adds some improvisation after it to give you an example of where you can take the lick, I think is also a really cool addition because it means you don’t just hear the lick, learn it, play it note for note and then think ok now what do I do? This is one of the hardest things when you are learning advanced concepts on guitar, you have to hear how what you are learning can be translated into licks and ideas beyond what you are reading on the page and Tom always demonstrates this thoroughly in all of his lessons.

This lesson is available from Tom’s website http://www.tomquayle.co.uk/lessons.html for $25.00 along with a whole load of other great lessons covering myriad of topics.