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. 


KUDOS!!!

— 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; 

http://www.ericandsuzy.com/)

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 MacKenzie

It's totally great.

— Tim Rowell

Have it....GREEEEAT!!

— 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

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Absolutely recommended


As we were preparing to enter an old-time music competition, the banjo player mentioned to me that she'd heard about this book, and I ordered it. Very simple to understand how I needed to modify my playing style; harder was actually doing it. But I worked at it, and we were first runner-up (out of about 20 bands), our first time out! I can't say that this book made the difference, but it certainly helped.



— Small-business owner (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] A wonderful resource for learning the fundamentals of old-time backup guitar


A wonderful resource for learning the fundamentals of old-time backup guitar. The first chapters provide great insight into the mechanics of the style. The transcriptions easily make up half the book and along with the original tracks they're taken from are perfect for learning to really hear and play. Weidlich's book is very different in that it really takes the backup lines apart showing alternate bass runs and how they can be substituted. I also found it useful, but I think John Schwab's book is the better place to start.

— Benjamin Smith (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] The book is a treasure to me!


I read the raving review on Flatpick Guitar Magazine but I play the baritone ukulele. This book is spiral bound, full of history, full of tablature that is easy to read and follow. I have been using it to get to know how the old-time boom-chick music was played and although I can't get the same boom with my chicks, I have found a solid style of rhythm playing that is fun. I have not fully used the CD but each some comes with tracks played at different speeds and they've been adjusted for pitch. The book is a treasure chest for me.

— Jeffrey G. West (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Five Stars


Greatest source for learning how to play old time guitar.

— David van Popering (via Amazon) 

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Great package


Beautifully produced book and audio collection.

— william w glanville (via Amazon)

[4.0 out of 5 stars] Helpful book!


This is a good book if you are an advanced beginner or new to old-time style of playing. The tabs are well designed and easy to read and the spiral binding is great - the pages actually lay flat when you are working on a piece. The only flaws I see in the book are minor - first, the songs aren't really organized by difficulty level, so the very first song has some of the fastest chord changes and transitions, and many of the songs near the back of the book are much easier to play. Second, the recordings are kind of hard to listen to, don't get me wrong - you can hear them but they sound like the scratchy old records they were made from. It would have been nice to include a track of someone playing the various guitar parts in a modern studio.


But really, those are minor complaints, you can learn the songs in any order you want rather than the order presented. I liked the section with various professional guitar players talking about their approach. This is one of the nicer and more useful music instruction books I own.


— blindrobert (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] This is the Book to Own


The definitive guide to old time backup guitar. A must for every guitar teacher and student. Schwab has deconstructed a vintage musical technique, and devised a method for teaching the antique art form, once heard only from rural back porches and square dances. A really smart book, with recordings featuring the tunes at varying speeds and complexity. A very cool, very accessible method to play more in the pocket for ensembles, and with more interest for solo and duo work.

— Sue West MacKenzie (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Good entry point


I played guitar for years, then quit for about 15. When I got back into music, I started playing clawhammer banjo. My wife is a great fiddle player, so the two of us have our own built-in jam session whenever we want. But some fiddle songs really need a guitar instead of a banjo, so I bought this book to help me understand the very specific style of old-time / backup guitar. It's been a huge help, as has been the CD that came with it. And I really like the tone of the writing ~ humorous, but thorough. There's no substitute for learning from other guitarists, which I do when we go to big jams. But this book is giving me good homework for when it's just me by my lonesome. Highly recommended!

— Old Fat Dog (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Inspiring instruction


I've never got off the starting line after over 50 years of trying to learn to play guitar, and at 74, I was considering giving up. Then I found John's book. Old-Time Music has long been my favorite, and I've yearned to play it. John combines motivation with solid instruction to help me do just that. And he's done it in a book that stands on its own as a historic and aesthetic introduction and treatise on Old-Time Music. John loves this music, and I think his book is an effective effort to help not only preserve it but revive it by inspiring and instructing those who want to play and providing fans and newcomers to the style an in depth look and listen to it. He's also there for you as you learn, like a devoted coach, so that you never give up again.I'm not there yet, but I'm happy with where it's going. Thanks, John!

— Amazon Customer (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] More than chords!


This book is a complete package. Not just a bunch of pages of tab...the introductory chapters are informative and give a clear and succint picture of what this musical style is, where it came from and how it has been approached by several artists over the years. There is plenty of reference material throughout the book to easily let one go as "deep" into the history and nuance as they like. One needent be a guitar player to find value in this book. Tabs are clear and workable, and the spiral format of the book makes it easy to play along. A CD is included with enough practice material to keep one interested for a long time. A good read for anyone interested in old Time music.

— Wednesday’s Child (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] When it comes to old-time guitar, less is more. But that's easier said than done!


I found this book to be a great guide for folks who already play guitar in a different genre but become interested in old-time music. I'm a banjo player but I've recommended this book to several guitarists already and will continue to recommend it, as it's basically the best resource out there.

— dalbaby (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] great book


this is the feedback i sent to the author so figured i would post here. In summary buy this book if you are interested in playing old time guitar as back up for fiddle and banjo music. i play banjo and wish all guitar players read this book. its helped my guitar playing so i can fill that role when needed. i learned a lot from this book. i pasted my long winded comments below that i sent to the author after receiving the book.


the good ...


First off, the night i got it i read it cover to cover as soon as i opened it (up to the tab section at least). i couldn't put it down. Great insight and helped me get a better understanding of the history, players and styles so that now i listen with a whole new set of ears. i really hear the guitar so much better with a much more critical ear after just reading. and honestly i didnt know jack @#$% about old time guitar as i have been primarily focused on banjo in this style.


spiral bound ... love it


portrait vs landscape where it makes sense ... love it


CD tracks - Awesome!! it by itself was worth the purchase price to me. i just try to look at the key and then just listen and learn. i only turn to the tab if i get stuck so the slowed down tracks are awesome and saved me alot of time to do it myself. plus i didnt even know about all these guys so wouldnt have even had these tracks in the first place to slow down. i have been focused on Banjo and know alot of banjo players but guitar players are so unsung heros. so this was very educational for me to be introduced to these masters


the could be improved (dont wont to say bad) ...


The CD organization could be a bit better.


Would be good to have some of the tab and tracks rated with some sort of difficulty score. i know that can be subjective but may help people start in certain places. Mike Seeger did this for his Southern Banjo Sounds series and that helped me when learning banjo to not attempt to dive into the hard stuff first but ease in with some of the easier tunes.

— joeclark (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Awesome Tab - Has Advanced My Playing


I've been using this book for about six months to improve my skills playing old time stringband-style backup guitar.  The tablature is wonderful; the author has painstakingly captured each note in every measure of the '78 recordings--every run and bass note. Rather than use repeat symbols, he has "notated" each tune all the way through.  The CD includes four versions of nearly every tune, the last being full speed (and for most of these tunes, that is FAST). It's rewarding to progress from the first or second-slowest speed to the third and finally to full speed.  Even if you aren't an old time music devotee, if you work with this book you're guaranteed to enhance your dexterity on the fingerboard as well as your ability to individually articulate all six strings with your (flat)-picking hand.  John also includes well-written commentary on each tune and the band playing it, as well as a thoughtful and comprehensive introduction at the beginning of the book.


Highly recommended!

— LRuby (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] The best book on the market for backup guitar.


I have been using this book for years. It will take your back up guitar game to the next level. Seriously a great book. Highly recommended.


— Michael2599 (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] An incredible resource!


Anyone who wants to learn to play old-time backup guitar or who already plays it and wants to "up his game" will greatly benefit from this book and CD. It has all of the elements to make it the perfect learning tool:


- the source recordings to listen to and play along with at four different speeds,

- meticulously detailed and accurate tablature,

- in-depth explanations of what distinguishes authentic and effective playing from everything else,

- analyses of the playing of the masters,

- thoughtful perspectives from expert players of today, and

- references to additional resources.


I think it ranks among the best book/CD instructional packages for any instrument in any style. Highly recommended!

— David Ziegele(via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] The BEST (perhaps ONLY) book like this


Incredible book. It focuses on learning how to play backup rhythm guitar (just like the title says). If you want to truly sound "old-timey", certain skills must be developed. Playing correct rhythm guitar is essential to sound truly old-timey. This book covers all of these elements necessary for learning this skill. I really enjoyed the "learning from the masters" approach. This book gives detailed examples, and although the examples are basic, they are the true foundation for this seemingly "simple" music.


Can't wait for another volume!!!!

— John Ellis (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Outstanding!


What an amazing resource! The information is presented in a logical, easy to read format. The enclosed CD, re-tuned to standard tuning, is priceless. It not only makes playing along with the guitar possible, it makes it fairly easy to pick out the melody lines. I think this book would be a valuable resource regardless of your experience with old time music. For those new to OT, the tab and slow song speeds on the CD offer some instant gratification. For the more experienced OT player, there are plenty of different styles represented here. By analyzing their choices, you can develop your own style. This book provides plenty examples of a style that seems to have been lost for years.

— Dave (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Outstanding resource!


I have become infatuated with old time music. Getting good instructional material is important to me. But gettting this gem was more than I bargained for.


It isn't just another book on how to play guitar. This is an important history lesson on old time music that will introduce you to some of the best known guitarists of past. The guitarists who helped create the sound that now defines old time as it's own genre of music.


This isn't just a bunch of tabs and charts you can use just to learn the tunes and songs they played. This is more about learning how they played those tunes and songs. It's about what they did to make this music so special and different, with examples of them doing it instead of listening someone's interpretation of their work.


And if you don't play guitar... doesn't matter. Really, this is a great collection of tunes. And the way they are presented makes it easy to learn them on any instrument.


I don't think you will find a better piece of work on the subject.

— tony (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Needed book for Old Time backup players


I played guitar for many years, but just started playing backup guitar for Old Time music a few years ago. I was delighted just to find a book on the subject, but was even more so when I started reading and working with it. John Schwab's approach of learning from the masters, using original recordings, is great. The CD has each tune recorded at 4 different speeds, so they are easy to follow and match with the tabs in the book. The included commentary about each tune is very helpful. John tweaked the recordings to ensure the tunes are in standard keys. The book contains a wealth of information derived from John's many years of playing and teaching. It includes things like tips on choosing the right pick and guitar, to tips from some well-known, modern Old Time backup players, such as Susie Goehring. I especially found his tips on backing up tunes with only one or two chords helpful. Besides being a great instruction manual, I found the book to be an entertaining and worthwhile read. I definitely recommend this book for just about any level guitarist who wants to play backup guitar for Old Time music.

— Mugwort (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Needed book for Old Time backup players


I have played various genres of guitar music for several years, but just started playing at Old Time jams a few months ago. I soon found out that there is a lot of history behind this music and while the tunes were typically "square" and fairly simple, there were many intricacies in the runs, timing, and variances. Someone who has played this type of music for many years recommended listening to the music, especially the old musicians from the early 1900's, was the best way to learn. Another person recommended John Schwab's book, so I bought it. It is not only enjoyable reading with great pictures and stories about the musicians, but is a history book of Old Time music. It also has tablature for many old tunes and a CD with the tunes recorded at various speeds for ease of learning. It's like having a whole course of Old Time music at your fingertips. I look forward to seeing if Mr. Schwab will put out another book with more tunes and tabs, because I would definitely buy it. I highly recommend this book for any guitar player wanting to learn or boost their knowledge and improve their playing of Old Time music.


— Little Stevie (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Old-Time Backup Guitar: Learn from the Masters


John Schwab's Old-Time Backup Guitar: Learn from the Masters is a must for old-time guitarists who strive to root our playing in the rich tradition accessible to us in source recordings from the 1920s and early 30s. Knowing that traditional music is learned mainly by ear, Schwab defines the role of the back-up guitarist, including key choices to make, and provides source recordings and guitar tablature to illustrate masterful playing. The CD-ROM presents each recording at full speed, 2/3, 1/2, and 1/3, all at concert pitch, so we can hear exactly what each guitarist is doing and play along, first really slooooooowly, then faster and faster. Schwab has really thought through how people learn best. Buy it!

— Dick Harrington (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Needed book for Old Time backup players


This is an amazing compilation of tunes, history, commentary, advice...


I came into this volume expecting to see the tunes with chord diagrams... that's what you usually get. This volume is instead incredibly rich with history, and (as indicated in Chapter 6's title) wisdom. It's actually reading material, and a visual catalog as well.


The tunes themselves are laid out well - well-formatted and easy to read. Where these is space on the page, the author has added great notes and clippings.


This is just a priceless volume, both for someone deep into the practice, and for anyone interested in the history.


— Karin (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Long over do material.


The guitar's place in an Old-Time group has been too long left to those with more of a Bluegrass bent. To do it right requires a willingness to do less while being a more solid bandmate. This book provides great insights into how to do just that. That John is considering doing a Volume 2 is cause for great celebration. The only other book that i know of that provides insights into this style is The Flatpicker's Guide to Old-Time Music. A great source .... but the authors state it's not as "pure" Old-Time and they reference John's work. Very highly recommended.


— Ryk (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Old Time Fiddle Masters Guitar


I play old time fiddle and love to play back up guitar in old time jam sessions. Buying John Schwab's Old-Time Backup Guitar book & CD is a no brainer - by some miracle John has "extracted" the original guitar from these must play old-time standard tunes and has the originals playing in three difference speed tempos. The slow, medium & regular speed tempos is a great learning tool.


He also includes the tablature & amazing write-ups on all the tunes & musicians. Its more than worth it just for all his terrific research and notes.


I am signed up to buy volume 2!


— Stewart Whitman (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Learning from a contemporary master.


I teach old time guitar at various camps and workshops and when I read John Schwab's instructional book, I found it to be very informative and interesting to read as well. As you might expect there were a couple of things that we don't see exactly eye to eye on like the use of minor chords in old time music but by in large I might have written the book myself. There is so much good information and instructive material that I intend to recommend it to my students in the future. John is indeed a contemporary master and one of the most sought after back up guitarists in the old time world. Buy it! I am sure you will like it!

— William Cornette (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Doesn’t get much better!


Great book for those wanting to master the craziness that is old time rhythm guitar!  The material is presented in a way that is concise and easy to understand.  I particularly liked the "Odds & Ends" section, which delves into some of the intricacies required for the style.  I have been playing guitar for 30 years, and I would recommend this book for any player of any ability.  If you need to work on your time, the tunes are slowed down on the cd by 2/3, 1/2 and 1/3 speed, so even a beginner should have no problems.


— oliver kollar (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Nothing out there like it


If you always wanted the nuts and bolts on how to play those old time songs the RIGHT way then this book is for you. As an instructor for Homespun video I can say without any reservation that John has put together a first rate instructional book. The material is presented clearly in a easy to learn, step by step manner and you also get one great history lesson to boot!!


I highly recommend this book!!


— T. Walker 

(Veteran blues musician Toby Walker; LittleTobyWalker.com; via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] A must read for guitar pickers


Old time guitar back up is an art by itself, as simple as it might look. Chords selection, bass notes selection and groove can turn a tune from boring and lousy to vibrant and delightful. This book sheds some light on how to get the best of this instrument in an old time band context, and is very much worth a look. The author does a great job at selecting some very tasteful tunes, breaking them down into bits to construct the building blocks of the reader's guitar technique. As a result my playing improved tremendously after I studied some of those tunes. I'm glad I found out about this book!

— Victor D (via Amazon)

[4.0 out of 5 stars] Seriously?


Old-time Backup Guitar: Learn from the Masters by John Schwab is extremely thorough and worth every penny. There is a CD included, with different speeds for each song, for people who use their ears. There is informative written history of the songs and the performers (I'm relieved that I, too, embellish the music by omitting notes now and then - I used to call it something else). The music is organized by key, source, title, or performer. There are inspirational testimonials. Authentic photos. It appears that John put a lot of effort and time into this endeavor - well done!


— K (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Great guide to old-time backup guitar


John Schwab has carefully analyzed the work of the best backup guitar players from the 1920s and 30s and generously shared what he has learned. The book is filled with lessons about chord choices, timing, tone production, and style. I loved hearing the guitar work of great string bands and the three slowed down versions of each of the tunes included in the book allow you to play along as you learn the tunes. This is a great resource for those who love old time music.


— Jim P. (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Nothing like it!


Old-Time Back Up Guitar presents an entry point for beginners and an analysis of the way the guitar was actually played in the golden age of 78 RPM records useful to even the most experienced guitarists. Modern influences have crept into the guitar accompaniment often heard in contemporary Old-Time string-bands. I recommend that anyone interested in Old Time music, guitarist and non-guitarist alike, own this book because of its detailed insight into the musical thinking of the influential Old-Time giants of the twenties. Our ever-present copy floats around the music room from hand to hand.

— jack spence (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Very helpful!


As a fiddle player, this book has been very helpful! I've shared it with a friend who plays guitar but was not acquainted with old-time playing but wanted to accompany me. It was immensely helpful, well written, with interesting historical info and photos to boot. What a great book to help old-time musicians. The author did a really great job with this. Highly recommended.


— Lonnie (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Learn from the Master…


What a great book. I am all about old tyme pickin and I'm all about this book...very well put together, easy to read, easy to listen, and me and my 12 fretter jam along all day long with this book. 5 stars all day long, now time for some pickin...

— Douglas M. Young (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Back up guitar players


This book really is a must for any guitarist who either plays back up old time guitar or wants to play for an old time musician whether it be banjo player, fiddle player or any other instrument come to that. It delves into the history of back up guitar and includes music and carefully transcribed tablature. It is one of those books than when read will be dipped into again and again for the useful tips and information it holds, clearly a work of love that John can be very proud of.


— molly (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] The old-time guitar bible


This is the book to which we point aspiring guitarists who show up to our old-time jam. It provides an accurate account of what an old-time guitar player should be doing and does so in admirable style. The tabs are straightforward. The CD, having multiple versions of each tune at different speeds, is a perfect practice aid.


As far as I know, Schwab's is the only book presently out that gets old-time guitar exactly right.


— EC (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Love it


I've old had it a day and I've already gotten useful learning. The specifics of these old backup patterns are things I've been really wanting to learn. Also I appreciate the comments on musicianship - things like keeping the parts simple to support the fildde and keeping the tempo steady.

— Lucas Gonze (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Old-Time Backup Guitar: Learn from the Masters


It is amazing to me that there are not more books like this. This genre of guitar playing is so often overlooked. This book is an excellent resource for the Old Time Guitar player. It teaches you that there is more to Old Time Music than just playing chords. This book has definitely improved my knowledge of the Old Time Guitar Masters as well as improving my own style. Highly Recommend getting this book if you want to truly play Old Time Back Up Guitar.


— Fred Staples (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] A must for Old Time guitar players


This is the first time that I am able to stick with an instructional book/CD and actually learn from it.


It's very well written, at "eye level". A lot of very interesting information about how the "old masters" played Old Time guitar. Easy to read tab that corresponds with the CD recordings.


— Amiel (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Top Marks


At last a comprehensive book and cd on a unique style of guitar playing a wealth of playing information that with some careful listening will enable you to provide interesting accompaniment behind fiddle banjo etc without upsetting them! This is a must especially if like me you don't have ready access to any one/teacher that knows about this style of playing.


— david hale (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Sign me up!


John's done a wonderful job. As much a history of old time music as an instructional manual, this handbook provides a thorough historical context for his excellent instruction. John has been doing this a long time. I know. We formed a pretty cool little band in high school in the '60's. Put me on the list for the next edition.

— dgale (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Old Time Backup Guitar


John's done a wonderful job. As much a history of old time music as an instructional manual, this handbook provides a thorough historical context for his excellent instruction. John has been doing this a long time. I know. We formed a pretty cool little band in high school in the '60's. Put me on the list for the next edition.

— morbanjo (via Amazon)

[4.0 out of 5 stars] Old Time Backup Guitar


I have found the book an interesting history of the music with a lot of detail about the music and players. The layout of the music tabs was very helpful in obtaining the best style for the guitar.


— Kath (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] A great resource


This is a wonderful book. Mr. Schwab is not only a fabulous guitar player; he's also a gifted writer and teacher. Drawing from the definitive recordings in the genre, Schwab leads the student carefully, purposefully, and joyfully through the old time backup guitar cannon.


A must for any guitar playing fan of old time music.

— JT (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] A Great Resource


This book is an excellent resource. It is well designed and full of information on Old Time backup guitar. If anybody knows about this genre, it is John Schwab.

— A. Adler (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] A fine introduction to the genre


I just received the book as a present and after a quick read, I found lots of good information. I look forward to spending more time with the recording and tab.

— Cate (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] A primer and study guide on Old Time Guitar


An essential for all O.T. players.  The examples of the old bands in the original recording.  The slowed versions are great.

— Glion (via Amazon)

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Essential


As an aspiring old time backup guitar player for a whole lot of years, I can only wish that this book had been available when I started. It tells it all.

— Larsbob (via Amazon)