Book review by Sophie Dorian-Dockx (53, Belgium, guitar teacher and luthier)
Women’s Road to Rock Guitar
by Nikki O’Neill (ISBN-13: 978-0-7390-9954-4 ©Alfred Music)
First rate method book. For everybody, not just for women. American-Swedish rock guitarist and guitar teacher Nikki O’Neill is one of the best guitar tutorial authors. Period.
At age sixteen, in 1978, I had become a total guitar geek. I spent three to four hours a day playing my classical guitar. My mother said I would grow into a guitar, one day. She was right. I had quit after-school jazz ballet and swimming to make more time for guitar practice, so my body contour had indeed been expanding.
So I went electric. I already had the Chrissie Hynde look, and her famous ‘So what?’ facial expression. All I needed was a heavy Telecaster, and plenty of running up and down the stage, without tripping over cables and pedals. The exercise helped me to delay my metamorphosis into a guitar for the next three decades.
All my guitar books were written by men, for men. Pictures of Jimis, Buddies and Muddies, and men’s hands on fretboards. So what? All my books except the one on jazz ballet were written by men for men, back then. We went for the good stuff. Even if it came in English language version only (my native language is Flemish).
Nikki O’Neill’s ‘Women’s Road to Rock Guitar’ is the good stuff. The really good stuff. An everybody’s book, not a girl’s book. Well-written, but more importantly: well-scripted. The ‘Road’ is carefully drawn, and the stops and recaps are placed exactly where you need them, both in the book and on the accompanying CD.
Small hands on fretboards? At last! I bet plenty of guys must have felt discouraged by hefty mitts fingering veritable tendinitis recipes. Moreover, small fingers don’t obscure strings and frets, resulting in a more readable image.
I love the pictures and bios of great female guitarists. Particularly Sister Rosetta Tharpe. She woke up my inner musician, at age four, performing ‘Music in the Air’, on our black&white TV. Every single Clapton, Cray and Kravitz owes her, and knows it.
Nikki O’Neill’s ‘Women’s Road to Rock Guitar’ is not for dilettantes. It is a very effective and rather tough method, requiring commitment and discipline. It covers a broad and well-organised spectrum of techniques, preparing the budding guitarist for more genre-specific advanced instruction, later on. That makes it a great guitar teacher’s manual, as well.
Dear guys: how do you usually respond to a woman’s claim that a particular book by a woman might perhaps slightly … intimidate you?
Exactly: you go buy that book!”