Advanced Guitar Study Group

Using The Classic

"Mickey Baker's Complete Course in Jazz Guitar - Book 1"

Presented by

Michael Joyce and the Texas Fingerstyle Guitar Association

Before We Get Started....

Lessons  (Note New Revisions)

In 1955 Mickey Baker, an aspiring guitarist and guitar teacher, published a guitar course called "Mickey Baker's Complete Course in Jazz Guitar-A Modern Method in How-to-Play Jazz and Hot Guitar."  This critically acclaimed course has become a classic as an introduction to colorful chords and the rudiments of improvisation.  It is 52 lessons written in 64 pages.  The course is written for the guitarist that has a basic knowledge of the common chords, such as C, F, G, D, C7, G7, D7, A min, E min, D min, etc. 

As the course was written in the early '50's, Mickey assumed that the guitarist would be playing as a sideman in an ensemble with horns, saxophones, clarinets, and rhythm, and he asks the student to transpose everything to the orchestra keys:  Ab, Bb, C, Db, Eb, F, and G.  In the first lesson and many others later on, Mickey tells the student to buy a music writing book and write everything in it for retaining for future reference.  I've interpreted this to be an invitation from the publisher to write out lesson plans, notes, and arrangements.  I've done just that, using a music writing editor called TablEdit (TE), creating almost 2000 TablEdit files (TEF's) divided among the lessons.  These TEF's not only give us the standard notation staves and tablature staves for fingering, they also give us a playback capability using the MIDI capabilities of the computer. 

I'm sure that Mickey never envisioned a tool such as TablEdit to write the lesson assignments and arrangements.  It is a wonderful way to go through this course.  Using TE to "loop" an exercise, we instantly have someone to play along with us, and not laugh at our mistakes.  We instantly know how a phrase is supposed to sound, without a dedicated teacher to demonstrate it for us.

Mickey wrote the course assuming that the guitarist was a plectrum or "flat pick" guitarist.  I've been a fingerstyle guitarist all of my life, so it's only natural that I've edited my notes to the lessons to include a fingerstyle guitarist's approach, along with anything that Mickey wrote concerning using a flat pick.  Where we students are asked to create original material from the exercises in the lessons, I've given my personal work as student participation, and I invite any and all students to send me theirs to include with the lessons.  I've also included additional notes and exercises that I've gathered over the years.  I've written review lessons and am adding appendices that cover topics that were not included or emphasized in the original course, such as arranging, modern comping, Latin rhythms, and Mickey's Volume 2.

My role in this project is as a fellow student and hub for the website distribution.  You are only asked to buy Mickey's course, which is still in print,  and retails for US $8.95.  Where you buy it is your personal choice.  I have no additional copies other than my copy I bought in 1971.  If you don't have a source from which to purchase this classic, I suggest you use an Internet Search Engine, such as Google, to search for "Mickey Baker Jazz Guitar Book 1".

Another requirement is that you have TablEdit, in one of its three forms:   at a minimum, TEFview, which is freeware and allows the user to read, printout, and listen to a MIDI playback of the exercise; the shareware version of TablEdit, which will allow you to create a TablEdit Format (TEF) file up to 16 measures; or the fully functional program.  I do not have any financial interest in TablEdit.  To the best of my knowledge, the only place one can obtain TE is directly from its creator.  By clicking on any of the hyperlinks in this introduction or the link at the bottom of the page, you will be taken to the TablEdit website.

As "students" you're on your own to put as much into it as you desire.  I've done all the transposing for you.  All you have to do is play along.  Later in the course, short original solos are created.  Since most are much less than 16 measures, they can be created using the Shareware version of TablEdit.

In the lessons where you are asked to create something original, you have the option of sending your work to me, in any form- TE, Guitar Pro, Power Tab, scanned handwritten manuscripts, etc.  I'll take your work and put it into the "Mickey Baker Stylesheet" and append it to the appropriate lesson.  By many students sharing their work, we greatly increase our resources, creating more musical ideas.

Here's a simple and relatively painless way to learn how to use a few new chord shapes, chord substitution philosophies, and be able to take an improvised solo during a blues chorus, vamp chorus, or bridge.  Along the way, I have no doubt that your skills with TablEdit, and keys like Bb and Eb will greatly improve just from the assimilation.  I can be sure of that, because I know how much I've improved as a musician during this project.

There are a number of common questions that many students may have.  Before starting Lesson 1, you may wish to read Before We Get Started....  If you have any additional questions, pre-start jitters, or comments, please contact me at michaeljoyce@hotmail.com .

Above all else, let's have fun while learning!