The Ultimate Guitar Chord and Scale Bible is an exhaustive reference manual regarding both chords and scales for use on a guitar. Here is my Guitar Chord and Scale Bible review.
The book contains two major sections, each of which is actually a separate book. The first section, is the “The Ultimate Guitar Chord Bible” by Buck Brown. The second section, scales, consists of “The Ultimate Guitar Scale Bible” by Mark Dziuba. Page numbers in the table of contents reflect the differences that result from merging two books.
The Chord Section presents the “most useful variations and inversions of every major minor, dominant 7th and altered dominant 7th chord on different sets of strings and in various inversions.”
This section is broken up into 10 groups, each representing one key of the circle of fifths. These include E, A, D, G, C, B♭/A#, E♭/D#, A♭/G#, D♭/C#, G♭/F#, with the order being based on the circle of fifths.
Within each key, multiple chords are listed for each type of chord, showing different variations and inversions for each. The most common and useful chord voicings (fingerings) are highlighted and numbered according to their comparative usefulness. This is a really nice feature allowing beginning and intermediate players to know which variation to focus on while learning new chords.
Each chord includes a typical chord diagram, as shown below for E Major.
The following table shows the number of variations for each chord type in the key of E. Numbers in parentheses are the number of variations for each.
|Major (12)||6/9 (10)||Augmented (10)||minadd9/11 (2)||7 (18)||7flat5 (6)||9#5 (6)|
|Sus2 (6)||Add9 (6)||min (12)||min9 (16)||7 three-note voicing (7)||7#5 (6)||11flat5 (6)|
|Sus4 (5)||Maj11 (5)||min6 (9)||min9Maj7 (6)||9 (15)||7flat9 (12)||13flat5 (3)|
|No 3rd (5)||Maj13 (5)||min7 (18)||min9add11 (4)||9sus4 (9)||7#9 (6)||13flat9 (6)|
|6 (10)||Maj13add9 (5)||min7 three-note voicing (7)||min11 (6)||11-7sus4) (9)||7flat9flat5 (4)||13#9 (5)|
|6 three-note voicing (6)||Maj13#11 (4)||minMaj7 (11)||min13 (5)||13 (8)||7#9flat5 (4)||dim9 (3)|
|Maj7 (16)||Maj7#5 (6)||min7#5 (5)||min13add9 (5)||13add9 (6)||7#5flat9 (6)||dim11 (5)|
|Maj7 three-note voicing (7)||Maj7#11 (6)||minadd9 (9)||min7flat5 (9)||13sus4 (4)||7#5#9 (6)||dim (4)|
|Maj9 (10)||Maj9#11 (3)||min6/9 (9)||min9flat5 (6)||13add9sus4 (5)||9flat5 (6)||dim7 (24)|
Now, by my reckoning, that totals 475 chords just in the key of E.
This section includes scales chosen “because of their usefulness in improvisational or compositional contexts.” The author clearly states that a knowledge of music theory would be helpful, but not needed to make full use of the included scales.
130 scales are included, arranged alphabetically, each on a separate page. Each page contains the following aspects of each scale. I’ve included a sample of each, taken from the Aeolian scale.
Including type, origin, construction, and uses.
Given in standard music notation, always starting with C as the root. Also includes tablature.
Open Position Fingering
Always uses C as the root.
Always shown on the B-string, with C as the root.
Shown for all twelve keys in the circle of fifths. The author has endeavored to include a large variety of fingerings, rather than just the same one moved up or down the neck.
Usually with E as the root.
Two-measure Chord Vamp
Designed to give you a feel for the scale. It contains not only chord names, but also standard music notation and tablature.
The scale section, and the book, concludes with two appendices. (Note: detail on each of the following concepts is beyond the scope of this review, so I’ll just list the concepts covered in the appendices.) The first one covers some basics of music theory and improvisational concepts. It covers these details:
How a major scale is built
The circle of fifths (also known as the cycle of fourths), showing the twelve keys and their relationships
How to build 7 chords and tensions
Diatonic scale superimposition
Diatonic chord superimposition
The second appendix covers scale study, and includes the following sections:
Non-adjacent string studies
Mini-position string studies
The entire fretboard – stepwise studies
I have found the Guitar Chord and Scale Bible useful many times through the years. I rely on it whenever I encounter a new chord in a song. I’ve tried other resources through the years, like websites and apps and other books, yet this book has never failed me.
I also find it interesting to try new variations on “old” chords. Everyone knows the basic open chord for C, for example. But, I’ve learned other voicings for the same chord that can be quite pleasing to the ear.
The biggest problem with this book, to me, is the size. At 336 pages, you don’t just pick it up and carry it with you when you leave the house. Instead, it stays at home for my practice sessions and when learning new songs. Beyond that, I have no complaints with this book. In short, I highly recommend it.
Remember, keep playing and learning. Music makes the world a better place.