Hot Licks Instruction Tapes
Not strictly an instrument review... but a look at an innovative new tuition method for guitar and keyboards.
The Hot Licks Instruction Tapes are one of several cassette based instruction series, designed to take a non musician through to playing at a (fairly) high level of dexterity. With around five such systems on the market, the question of which to choose from immediately rears itself, but a rapid examination of the rivals to the Hot Licks series produced some interesting conclusions. So much so that the review that follows of the Hot Licks really has to be seen in the light of its competitors. In the main these are produced at home, by amateur players. They are usually in the form of one single cassette, and of the ones I have heard the quality leaves a lot to be desired.
The tuition sheets on the majority of the HL rivals are photocopies, and on two of the specimens, the sides of the photocopy were so obscured that absolutely no sense could be made of the tuition whatsoever.
And so to Hot Licks. There are a whole series of different tuition courses to choose from, including Rock, Lead Guitar, Advanced Guitar, Nashville Guitar, Blues Guitar, Bass Guitar, Jazz Rock, and a beginners tape and study course called How To Play Guitar.
There are six tapes to each set, each one lasting an hour, and they are accompanied by a book of instructions, with the musical notation taken down in tablature. This means that non musicians, and non musical readers, can quickly get an idea of the tapes and how to use them. The general impression after a good month with the Rock Guitar course is that they are an excellent way to learn confident and constructive guitar, with the added bonus that the tapes themselves are interesting to listen to...
The form is, sit (or stand) with the book at reading distance and guitar in hand, get a cassette player (the higher the quality the better) within range and go. It really is as simple as that.
The tapes were compiled and recorded by Arlen Roth, whose patient manner takes the listener gently through the various techniques of playing manner takes the listener gently through the various techniques of playing rock guitar. Tape One covers chord work, rhythm exercises, suspended 4th licks, barre chords, I, IV and V progressions and finishes with a selection of techniques to copy. 'Parrot Fashion' learning is one that a lot of people avoid like the plague, but the Hot Licks tapes take you on a course that says, basically, 'here's something new - experiment with it...'
The rest of the cassettes and tuition press on over the basis of the original two. Speed is slowly increased, and it is worth recording your playing at tape One and comparing this with the playing standard reached by tape Six. This sort of 'before and after' approach could be a marketable ad campaign for Hot Licks since the advancement is quite dramatic - and the non musician who went through this course was astounded at the result (and terminally embarrassed at the early efforts...).
Going through the various tapes would be pointless, there are six, and their flow is extremely good, adding up to a comprehensive and effective course. At the price (£7.95 per tape) it makes for an investment.
Hot Licks Instruction Tapes are available from Labtek International Ltd., (Contact Details).
Review by Tim Oakes
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