Ben Eunson is a remarkable talent in the comtemporary jazz guitar scene. His playing blends a modern sensibility alongside a keen awareness of the musical history of jazz. In short, you got an amazing player that has been making waves within the community.
I’m personally a fan of his work (I have, I believe every instructional material he has released on his website so far, except the newer stuff on his Patreon page, which looks mighty tempting, though I already have more than I can chew even now).
With this 22-page eBook, Ben gives an a chance to see what he’s actually doing on different harmonies.
We have 5 etudes in total, each covering different harmonic terrain.
The 5 Etudes are:
- Etude #1: Lydian Etude
- Etude #2 Ionian/Mixolydian Etude
- Etude #3 Diminished Scale Etude
- Etude #4 Melodic Minor Scale Etude #1
- Etude #5 Melodic Minor Scale Etude #2
We get a short introduction to each etude that discusses the chord progression and scales/modes/arpeggios that Ben uses on each of the etudes.
The notation is clear and the articulation markings are included to help you get the right pull-offs and hammer-ons needed for Ben’s style.
I gotta say these etudes are REALLY HARD (at least for me). Which makes sense… because they are etudes.
I see many ways to approach the etudes. You could learn note for note, each one gradually or you could also pick and choose some phrases to practice. Or… you can go with my current route which is to learn some of the lines and deconstruct what Ben is doing (fingering wise, harmonically and technically with all the articulation).
I personally got so much from learning some of my favorite bits of his etudes. I started to have a better sense of why Ben does such wide stretches and how his string skipping approach works. Of course, I have spent some time with his other material (his How To Practice series is amazing by the way), so I have some clue of his fingering logic prior to this.
However, the cool thing about seeing how Ben approaches improvising in these etudes is that you get more context than just shorter exercises. Context is key when it comes to improvising convincingly in this style so I appreciate that Ben has released this material.
In conclusion, if you’re into Ben’s guitar style, this alongside his courses would be some of the best ways to get into this kind of sound. Even after playing guitar for 25 years, I still try to get any advantage or insight that can help my playing grow. This material is definitely worthwhile to study.
Pros: Great sounding etudes, seriously hard to learn & play, will challenge most guitarists new to this style of playing. Notation is clear and includes articulation markings so you know which notes you need to pick, hammer-on and pull-off.
Cons: Not too much discussion on the technical aspects of the etudes (string skipping, legato playing, fingering choices). I recommend working on the etudes alongside Ben’s courses (both his How to Practice series and also his excellent How To Warm Up: 20 Practical Concepts for the Contemporary Guitarist book.
TLDR: For fans of the modern jazz guitar/fusion legato laden playing sound, this book gives you insights on how to start improvising like this. It’s different than the older bebop sound and requires both different technique and sensibility. Ready for this? Then get this book to accompany hours of future woodshedding.
How to Buy:
You can get this eBook here on his website: https://www.beneunson.com/store/5-etudes-for-guitar-improvisation
I wrote a lot of other book, course and video reviews too.
Check out the rest here:
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[Submissions for Review Consideration]
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