Standards for Solo Guitar by John Stein

As an associate professor at Berklee College of Music, Stein clearly knows a thing or two about delivering a series of studies, where he not only offers an analysis of the pieces and his arrangements – harmonic choices etc – but also a case history of each of the chosen songs, making this volume seem more like an individual tutorial. There is also a CD of Stein’s expertly executed renditions of each song. Although this is a collection of ‘standards’, the arrangements are anything but, exploring the various possibilities offered by the changing structure and format of each song. In some cases Stein explains how he has worked through the song to come to his choice of arrangement, on others he simply offers a history and musical analysis.

It is assumed from the outset that the reader has some musical understanding and a reasonably strong command of the fretboard. But Stein has, it seems, deliberately made these arrangements relatively simple to execute and just in case you might be having fingering problems, has laid down a TAB, so that with practice, each and every one of these arrangements is achievable.

Sadly the excellent text and arrangements are let down by the bass heavy imbalance of the CD recording, which makes the chordal work rather indistinct and ‘woolly’. Having said that, Stein’s artistry and musicianship is a joy to listen in to.

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