This is the book that taught me the most in the shortest period of time. I hadn't accompanied Old Time at all until exactly a year ago. I bought this book in the spring, and come the summer, none other than Cathy Fink called me "a rock-solid accompanist." The book and the enclosed CDs are pure pedagogical gold.
— Tom Leoni
It's THE book on old-time guitar – much more than just the tunes, learn exactly what the great backup players of that golden age were doing.
— Jay Ungar
(Acclaimed fiddler and tunesmith; Co-Director of Ashokan Fiddle & Dance Camps;
frequent collaborator with filmmaker Ken Burns; http://jayandmolly.com)
I wasn't sure there was any book instruction for what I wanted, but I was specific enough to google "old time backup guitar," and, lo!, there was your book, exactly what I needed and wanted. I love this book. It's so much more than instruction, though that's great too. I love the the feel you have for the music and the people who play it. I love the description of old time. I love reading about the players. I love the comments from current players. I love the passion I hear in their voices. The TAB is great. Having four speeds to use is great. The chord choices section and the comparison example is a wonderful inclusion. I've only had the book about a week, but it seems to have all I need to get where I want to go, and beyond.
— Sally Wilson
You like to play old timey music?? Then this book is for you!!
For years I've been looking for a book that teaches how to play old time backup guitar the way those old timers did it. John Schwab goes above and beyond in showing you how to do it. I highly recommend that you check out his book.
— Toby Walker
(Blues guitar virtuoso; http://www.littletobywalker.com)
Thanks for the book, John! What a masterpiece it is. As one who has thought about old-time guitar for so many years, I so appreciate your thoughtful and quantified analysis! The tone of your book is particularly nice re: chord choice. You say it well!
You created the book with which one can actually teach old time guitar! A first!
— Sam Bartlett
(Multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire; http://www.sambartlett.com/music.html)
I personally have found this book to be beneficial to my playing all around. As a person who enjoys both bluegrass and old time music, I often found my bluegrass playing to be slightly more modern sounding than I ever intended for it to be. After a deep dive into Old Time Music, informed in part by this book, I feel that my playing on both fronts has become more what I was going for all along. Thanks a lot, John!
— Nathan Sykes
I'm DEVOURING your book. Best resource anywhere.
— John Fogerty
I got your book yesterday...oh my goodness, as my dear old Mom used to say. It is somewhere between a work of art and a labor of love or both! The music, tab, layout, design, photos, spiral binding, even the paper it's printed on is first rate. I like your philosophy. It's perfect for enhancing the basic alternating bass patterns and learning other creative ways of playing with the fiddler, with clarity!
After using the tab and the music files I can see how a beginner could use it too, by simple strumming along, or practicing basic alternating bass boom-strums. As well as practicing listening to the fiddle for chord changes.
I'm also curious if my fiddle-playing friends might enjoy the music samples, to expand on their style. That's some wild fiddle playing!
— Chris Hancock
Old Time Backup Guitar: Learn from the Masters is a resource that EVERY guitar player should own. The stories and pictures of ‘The Masters' makes it an enjoyable read all on its own. The chapters on the role of the guitar and the 'philosophy' of old time backup guitar reflect what I've come to feel from my years as a guitarist but never put into words. Your book has given me food for thought and got me thinking about what I do and why I do it. At the heart of the book is the accurate tab of the guitar parts and the audio files needed to completely understand that tab. I think the most important phrase in your title is this: ‘from the masters.’ You've done all the heavy lifting and have gone back to the early sources in order to show the rest of us what the 'masters' actually did on their guitars when it was time to play. The money I've spent on Old-Time Backup Guitar: Learn from the Masters is the best investment I've made in a long time. Very well done.
— Michael Pastucha
I'm two weeks into old time guitar playing and just wanted to say a big thank you! I would have been lost without your book as there is nothing else out there that even begins to show where to start. I'm slowly working through the tablature and already I am able to incorporate some of the bass runs and licks into other tunes I'm working on. It's brilliant! So thank you, your book is the real deal!
— Jamie Mockridge
For all you Ashokan Old-Time guitarists looking for the perfect holiday gift for...yourself, check out John Schwab's book, which has sold more than 2,000 copies for a reason.
— Ilana Katz Katz
[This book is] absolutely exemplary. I’ve been playing clawhammer and two-finger banjo for
10 years now and a book hasn’t made me this excited for the music in a long time. The tune selection, the CD, the chapters on the elements of style, it’s fantastic cover to cover. I wanted to thank you for writing it.
— Dusty Elmer
Absolutely a great book/study. A great Christmas present for the beginner to the seasoned player. Also a great resource for fiddle players, some great old time tunes on the CD included in the package! [It] truly is a nice piece of work, organized well, insightful, and the CD is a great tool that makes it all come together. You should be very pleased.
— Jim Ketterman
I am just back from a week at summer camp ... and found your WONDERFUL book on my kitchen table. CONGRATULATIONS!!!! It is even better than I anticipated! The cover is very, very attractive in person, the photos inside are popping — such good images, such clear and great contrast b/w images — the tabs are excellent and presented in an excellent format, and all the content is of course spot-on perfect. I can’t praise it enough!
Thank you so much for creating the book in the first place.... I am going to be very happy to recommend it often and especially whenever I find myself in a teaching situation.
— Susie Goehring
(Backup guitar player with Bigfoot, Rayna Gellert, and the Red Mules)
As a veteran stringband guitar (and banjo) player I am really enjoying working through John's book & am learning a lot. I have also recommended it strongly to up & coming guitar players. As an occasional fiddler, this is what I want to hear!
The slowed down versions of these classic band tunes that John has put together on the accompanying CD are a terrific "ear-opener" for revealing how great stringbands work. When I heard the Blue Ridge Highballers' “Skidmore” I was listening for the banjo ... but boy, do those fiddles come through nicely. I have never before been able to hear so clearly how Laprade attacked those first few notes in “Skidmore.”
The guitar-fiddle duets are also case studies in how to support a fiddle and come up with a sound that comes together in wonderful synergy — and to my mind, guitar-fiddle duos make just as beautiful music as banjo-fiddle duets.
— Gail Gillespie
(Happy Valley Pals; Herald Angels; Carolina Catbirds; New Southern Broadcasters; Blue Ridge Catbirds; County Commissioners; Bucksnort Barndance Band)
Oh boy! One of my favorite guitarists reveals his secrets! If you’ve ever wondered, what the heck is the guitarist doing to get ‘that sound’ on those magical old 78s, this book will help you figure it out, and aspiring fiddlers will find the slowed-down pitch-corrected recordings very useful.
— Suzy Thompson
(Powerhouse traditional musician; Artistic Director, Festival of American Fiddle Tunes;
This is a long overdue note of thanks for your wisdom and expertise in the form of your “Learn from the Masters” guitar instruction book. You really nailed the style of guitar playing that I love to hear, and aspire to play. My little 1948 Martin 0-18 sounds so great now that I can play with that bass-driven sound! Also, I encouraged the guitar player in my band to buy your book. He did, and his guitar playing really improved. He now has more of the old time 1 & 3 emphasis rather than the more bluegrass-y “boom CHICK boom CHICK” that he was playing for so long. I am sure you will influence many, many people because of your book. Thank you so very much for taking the time to write it!!!
— Amber Mueller
I found your book to be very helpful in unlocking a lot of the “secrets” of old-time guitar. The layout, design and content show a lot of thought went into it. I enjoyed reading the beginning chapters that delved into the history, theory, tradition, and styles that made old-time guitar so special, and the informative comments and photos that accompany each of the tabs. The tune selection is great. Some familiar chestnuts as well as some lesser known (to me) tunes. Good choices throughout. The techniques that you used for slowing down the recordings while main- taining the corrected pitch are wonderful.
— John Holton
[Responding to compliments on his terrific guitar playing....] It’s all due to John Schwab’s guitar book — it’s my bible. Before I got [his] book, I really had no idea how to play old time guitar.
— David Strickland
Just wanted to let you know I'm loving the book. I've been working on a farm (long hours) during the summer mostly by myself. So I put the CD on my iPod and set it on repeat. Listening to the examples at all the different speeds is a great idea. By the time I got to each full speed version I was finding the tunes were pretty much ingrained. When I do pick up the guitar for a few moments here and there I'm finding that I'm subconsciously slipping in some of the stuff that's been playing in my ears for the last week.
I have read through the book and the information within is very insightful. I'm now going to have to track down the many other recordings recommended too. (I'm also firmly in the camp that listening is the best way to learn.)
Thanks again for the excellent book, John.
— Darren Barclay
A wealth of information. Lots of good background — both historical and contemporary. Solid advice and instruction. Great selection of tunes and "masters" to learn from. The tab and slowed down versions ought to benefit anyone wanting to dig a little deeper and get it right.
Thanks for your work, John.
Oh, and did I mention — boy, did I get it fast.
— Tony Elder
I just wanted to send out a thank you for the incredible resource. It's been a pleasure digging into this book, and a great help for someone like me, who's relatively new to this style of guitar playing.
— Indy Hoover
Thank you so much for all the obvious work you put into this material. It is so clear and every bit what I need. I was especially looking for what is appropriate with jams, especially with bass runs, and this is spot on. Best wishes selling many of these!
— Rick Thompson
To any of my guitar playing friends...hands down, John's book can't be beat for learning old-time backup geetar!!
— Rick Hocutt
Thank you for crafting such an excellent Old Time Guitar book. It's a been nothing short of a revelation for me! It's a thing of beauty!
— Stephen Sellers
Anybody interested in getting into old-time music should definitely get this book!!!! John Schwab is a fine feller and great guitar player!!!
— Laney House
I'm actually a fiddler but play a bit of guitar. The book is a great reference to give to guitarists when I want them to play backup for me. Most "modern" guitarists don't quite get what I'm asking for in an old time style. The book and CD really help explain it to them from a guitarist's point of view.
— Joe Shimek
I just received your Old Time Backup Guitar book yesterday. I have already read through the entire book and have tried out a few of the samples, etc. I am very impressed and grateful for your work. It is a great resource. While I am technically proficient with several aspects of the guitar, I felt my rhythm guitar skills were wanting. Your book/CD has already helped me and I am determined to work through it in detail.
I [also] found your comments on guitars to be very helpful. I have a Gibson Hummingbird with a Madagascar rosewood body...., but I found it was not that good for playing backup in the old time groups. I didn't really understand why until I read your comments on guitars.
— Wilson (Bil) Stahl
I've had my copy for a couple months now and I enjoyed every bit of it. Lots of info about the players, past and present, lots of tips, great tune selection etc. My backup playing has improved 500% too.
— Victor Denancé
Barb and I both want you to know how much we like your book. It is much different than other instruction books, and it is fun and interesting on many levels. You have a quality product there, for sure!
— Mark Ward
Thoroughly enjoyed the book and wholeheartedly agree with your comments about learning from the "masters." The CD was wonderful [for learning backup guitar] — and as a fiddler I think the CD is wonderful for learning the tunes as well.
— Rod Jones
I have been sooooo enjoying your book and have started incorporating some new techniques into my backup playing. So much more fun than plain ole boom-chuck.
Your book/CD really has given me some great new (old) ideas that (I think) have made my backup playing much more interesting. It’s such a unique resource, invaluable really.
— Cheryl Johnson
Finally getting around to digesting [the] wonderful backup guitar book by John Schwab. I'm understanding it very easily now! A fantastic resource.
— Sheila Stone
“Old-Time Backup Guitar: Learn From the Masters” has helped me become a favored back-up guitar player among my local fiddlers. What more could one ask for?
— Howard Weinberg
This stuff is a real treasure for all old-time guitar players.
— David Bragger
Got your book yesterday. Brilliant. It's already changed the way I approach and play old timey guitar. Some of those runs from the old timers are exquisite. You know, I never really loved the tune "Soldier's Joy." However, with my partner playing on fiddle and me playing the arrangement in your book, it's taken the tune to new heights. Wonderfully done. Thanks again.
— Jacqui Mckenzie
Thanks so much for the book. I'm working my way through it, and having a lot of fun. ...I'm grateful for a book that concentrates so heavily on old-time backup. I love that you've compiled so much writing from you and other great players on tips and technique; the tab is great; and having pitch corrected recordings makes such a big difference.
Thanks again for the book. I'm sure it was a ton of work, but I suspect there are a lot of guitarists like me who are really enjoying it.
— Joel Frank
I've had one long-term adult student who can pick up fingerstyle or [lead] flat picking with ease and accuracy. But she had great difficulty joining in a jam and playing behind others. We've worked through your book together and it's really helped her get where she's wanted to be for playing with fiddle and banjo. (Me too!)
— Sue West
It's totally great.
— Tim Rowell
— Ron Whisler
I love this book.
— Jeff Liverman
(Executive Director, Jacksonville Center for the Arts, Floyd, VA)
John, that is the coolest cover graphic ever!!!!! Kudos! And I know the insides are even better.
— Al Tharp
…Your first book has catalyzed my old-time backup guitar playing to a more complex and enjoyable level (especially for me, and probably for those who hear my playing).
— Alan Teichman
Nobody teaches OT backup guitar any better than this book can teach it. If you're motivated and play along with the songs you'll do fine.
— George Guthrie