“Well, I’d like to sing along, but I don’t know my ABC”.
You don’t want to be caught saying that. Ruuuumbled! Do yourself a favour in the early stages and learn the notes on the fretboard. Yes, it takes time. But it’s so much more professional and when you get to a more advanced stage it will help you massively, trust me. When you play in a particular key (let’s say G major), you don’t always want to start at the 3rd fret on the low E string because that’s the only G you know… Also try to learn the intervals relative to whatever note you are currently playing. E.g. we all know if you move from the A string to the D string and move two frets up, that is a fifth (power-chord, anybody?) – expand that to the limit.
In addition to the above, I will say that you should learn general music theory. These books are ok though they’re not guitar-focused (not a bad thing!):
If you want an entertaining read then I can highly recommend this book:
It’s still highly relevant. The start covers guitar construction and famous guitarists. It then delves into a well summarised (applicable) music theory section for guitar. Seriously good. And then ends with sections on technology, stage performance and the like.
As you progress, you’ll want to be able to play anything, anywhere on the fretboard. To be honest, the “Guitar Handbook” is all you need. But this may be more appealing to the “new generation:”
Depending on just how seriously you want to take things, you may wish to be able to sight-read music. To be honest, I mainly use guitar tabs and my ears! Musical notation has never been high on my list due to time constraints (practice smart!) but if you have the time and inclination, do it.
I have to mention this:
I found this tape to be hilarious at the time. Yngwie (a notoriously amazing alternate picker – he gets some “stick” but his album Rising Force was a masterpiece) would play these lightning fast passages and then claim to play them at a lower speed. If the fast speed was 120mph then the slow speed was 118mph. If you’ve seen this video, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
There are sooooo many other references I used whilst learning (and hey, I still am – you can never stop!). I learned whilst the internet was only just becoming popular, so it wasn’t easy. A friend of mine got this mail-order course called “fast fingers” which came with orange booklets and accompanying CDs. I learned from that. He also had this Wolf Marshall video which was basically Wolf (what a name, what a guy!) showing us the licks of Guns N’ Roses – highly inspirational. I learned several albums (most G N’ R albums, Satriani’s “Surfing with the Alien,” that sort of thing) and individual tracks (learning songs that inspire you is VERY important as it keeps things fun). I read the “Jazz Guitar Book” and learned from it, though admittedly jazz is not a style I am interested in. I got a flamenco DVD course from which I learned a few techniques, but I decided to stick to my core strength and desire: rock guitar (never spread yourself too thin by trying to learn it all, unless you are Mega Man or Guthrie Govan!). There are too many sources too mention. These days I’m currently signed up to jamplay which I find interesting, if for the “Artist Series” and games such as their “fretboard knowledge” tool.
One thing I will say is this. With so many sources of information available, I think there is complete information overload and that this may not be the best time in which to learn! Be careful to review learning materials and don’t go over the same ground too much.
One reason to know your scales on the fretboard, inside out, is that it can hamper technical progress! If you’re trying to blaze away up and down the neck but you’ve got a mental block over which shape to play next, that will more than likely result in your hands tensing up a tad. You need to know your scales/arpeggios/whatever you use (!) and be confident. Confidence is a big thing.
That’s all for now. I may edit this post at a later date.