Vaideology Book Review: A Masterclass For Beginners

Steve Vai is undeniably one of the best guitar players of all time. Not only can he shred with the best of them, he’s also a supremely musical being. There’s not many things he hasn’t done in the guitar world at this point. Vai has always written instructional columns for magazines and his website, but now he’s written an incredible theory book for beginners.

Vaideology was just released at the beginning of 2019, and the first pressing immediately sold out everywhere. I was lucky enough to have some good folks order me a copy when I first heard Vai’s announcement, and I’m so glad it finally came in. The book is from long time publishers Hal Leonard, and even physically feels like an awesome tome of information.

Vai has a full description and video of the book here, but when he breaks it down, he explains the book in one sentence:

“This document is a guide to the fundamentals of music theory for the aspiring guitar player”

To be honest, that line doesn’t do the book justice! I think you should watch the video, and ultimately pick up the book.

The book is perfect for beginners just getting started with music theory, and also experienced players who are looking to fill in gaps in their musical knowledge. Vai goes over everything from note recognition, constructing chords, and composing music, to more difficult topics like polyrhythms and modes and microtones. When I first opened the book I was struck that it was illustrated in beautiful color, by Vai himself.

One of my favorite parts of the book is how Vai balances Academic Study with Experiential Study. Sure, we need to learn the material in the academic side, but putting that information to use, and soon, is the most important thing for retention of that information. Vai uses some fantastic experiential exercises to make learning enjoyable.

I’ve picked up a myriad of different guitar books over the last 20 years, and I even wrote about some of my favorites here and here. Without a doubt, I’ll be adding Vaideology to my list of great guitar books. The layout and explanation is uniquely Steve Vai.

We talk about practice schedules so much on Chasing Sound, and I feel like this book is the perfect companion to any practice schedule. Do you need to know any theory at all to be a great guitar player? Vai answered that recently:

"One of the questions that I'm usually asked by aspiring guitar players is, how much music theory do I really need to know, and is it necessary? My answer is usually, 'You don't need to understand music theory at all to be an effective player, but it will always help to at least understand the basics". So, I wrote a book that I believe contains the basics of music theory that can aid the student to be musically literate, and perhaps much more.”

The book clocks in at a little over 90 pages, and the information inside should probably only take a couple of months to learn, but it’ll take a lifetime to master. Who can ask for a better teacher than Steve Vai to learn the ropes? You can pick up Vaideology here.