Best Guitar Books

Best books for learning the guitar
by CJ McDaniel // July 25 // 0 Comments

Did you recently purchase your first guitar? If you are picking up the instrument for the first time, you may be wondering where to even begin. Or perhaps you have been playing for years and want to take your guitar skills to the next level. Regardless of your current experience level, learning is a never-ending part of being a guitarist. What are the best guitar books to help you take the next step in your playing?

Although there are many great online resources to help you learn the guitar, many people prefer to learn by reading books. There is no shortage of great books, both old and new, for learning how to play the guitar.

We cover some of the best books for learning guitar below. Whether you’re a total beginner, an intermediate player, or a veteran, this selection of books has something for everyone! Let’s dive in!

Hal Leonard Guitar Method

Guitar Books - Guitar Method

The Hal Leonard Guitar Method is designed for anyone just learning to play acoustic or electric guitar. It is based on years of teaching guitar students of all ages, and reflects some of the best teaching ideas from around the world. This super-convenient Complete Edition features the new and improved method books 1, 2 and 3 spiral-bound together, available as a book with three CDs!

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Music Theory for Guitarists

Guitar Books - Music Theory

Guitarists of all levels will find a wealth of practical music knowledge in this special book with online audio access. Veteran guitarist and author Tom Kolb dispels the mysteries of music theory using plain and simple terms and diagrams. The accompanying recordings provide 94 tracks of music examples, scales, modes, chords, ear training, and much more!

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The Guitar Handbook

Guitar Books - The Guitar Handbook

The most comprehensive resource available for beginning and experienced guitarists alike, whether acoustic or electric. Completely redesigned and with many more full-color photos than the original, this new edition surveys recent models and profiles current masters, includes an expanded lesson section, and encompasses 10 years of technological change in recording and amplification.

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No Bull Music Theory for Guitarists

Guitar Books - No Bull Music

Unlock essential guitar theory to boost your ability and confidence as a guitarist. Easy language. Music reading not required! (Includes free downloadable audio).

Inside the 12 chapters of this guitar theory book you’ll learn about intervals, triads, major and minor keys, chord sequences – and understand how to apply them to your playing, improvising and songwriting.

The book uses diagrams and simple, non-intimidating language to teach you in minutes, things which confuse some guitarists for years.

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The Advancing Guitarist

Guitar Books - Advancing Guitarist

Reference Veteran musician and educator Mick Goodrick presents practical information for guitarists who want to improve their playing technique and style and simply become better musicians Rather than a step-by-step method book the information is presented in a general essay format discussing ways that the various techniques covered may be applied by the advancing guitarist to enhance his/her own style of playing some of the areas discussed include basic fingerboard mechanics modes scales and chords contemporary harmony harmonica and overtone influences being self-critical improvising short pieces different playing situations

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A Modern Method for Guitar

Guitar Books - A Modern Method

Now guitarists can have all three volumes of this classic guitar method in one convenient book! Created by popular demand, this new edition of the method used as the basic text for the renowned Berklee College of Music guitar program is a complete compilation of the original Volumes 1, 2, and 3. Innovative solos, duets and exercises progressively teach melody, harmony and rhythm. Perfect for the serious guitar student and instructor alike.

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Zen Guitar

Guitar Books - Zen Guitar

Unleash the song of your soul with Zen Guitar, a contemplative handbook that draws on ancient Eastern wisdom and applies it to music and performance.

Each of us carries a song inside us, the song that makes us human. Zen Guitar provides the key to unlocking this song—a series of life lessons presented through the metaphor of music.

Philip Sudo offers his own experiences with music to enable us to rediscover the harmony in each of our lives and open ourselves to Zen awareness uniquely suited to the Western Mind. Through fifty-eight lessons that provide focus and a guide, the reader is led through to Zen awareness. This harmony is further illuminated through quotes from sources ranging from Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix to Miles Davis. From those who have never strummed a guitar to the more experienced, Zen Guitar shows how the path of music offers fulfillment in all aspects of life—a winning idea and an instant classic.

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Effortless Mastery

Guitar Books - Mastery

Playing music should be as simple and natural as drawing a breath, yet most musicians are hindered by self-consciousness, apprehension, self-doubt, and stress. Before we can truly express our inner self, we must first learn to be at peace and overcome the distractions that can make performance difficult. Kenny’s remarkable work deals directly with these hindrances, and presents ways to let our natural creative powers flow freely with minimal stress and effort. Includes an inspiring Includes Online Downloadable code of meditations designed to initiate positive thought. This book has become a favorite of many musicians who credit it with changing their lives! Many are so impressed that they buy copies for their musician friends as gifts. Easy, effortless reading paperback.

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Chord Chemistry

Guitar Books - Chord Chemistry

Ted Greene’s Chord Chemistry was originally published in 1971 and has become the classic chord reference book for two generations of guitarists. Whether you are just beginning to search beyond basic barre chords or are already an advanced player looking for new sounds and ideas this is the book that will get you there. Designed to inspire creativity this book is a musical treasure chest filled with exciting new ideas and sounds.

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Music Reading for Guitar

Guitar Books - Music Reading

Starting at the elementary level and progressing to advanced techniques, this comprehensive method is like a complete two-year guitar course in book form. It includes over 450 songs and examples, and covers: notes, rhythms, keys, positions, dynamics, syncopation, chord charts, duets, scale forms, phrasing, odd time, and much more. Designed from an MI core curriculum program.

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Pumping Nylon

Guitar Books - Nylon String

World-class classical guitarist and well-respected educator Scott Tennant presents the most comprehensive technique handbook available for classical guitarists. This complete edition combines all three volumes of Scott’s best-selling Pumping Nylon series.

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Patterns, Scales & Modes for Jazz Guitar

Guitar Books - Scales and Patterns

A clear, practical and systematic approach to learning how to play the great variety of scales and arpeggios that give life and expression to the musical ideas of the modern musician. In addition to scales and arpeggios, many examples of jazz-type lines are covered and explained. Valuable tips and suggestions will help you begin creating your own jazz solos.

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Rhythm Guitar 365

Guitar Books - Rhythm Guitar

This book provides 365 exercises – one for every day of the year! – to keep your rhythm chops fine tuned. Demos of all 365 exercises are provided online. The book covers chord theory and the fundamentals of rhythm; basic and complex fingerpicking and strum patterns; popular diatonic and non-diatonic progressions; major, minor, diminished, and augmented triads; major, minor, and dominant seventh chords; extended and altered chords; major and minor keys; and more. By practicing these you’ll gain greater knowledge of chord construction and progressions, exposure to the rhythm styles of several musical genres, improved fingerpicking and strumming technique, increased chord-voicing vocabulary, and more!

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Alfred’s Kid’s Guitar Course

Guitar Books - Kid's Guitar

Alfred’s Kid’s Guitar Course is the #1 best-selling guitar method for kids! This award-winning (“Best Product of the Year” —Disney’s iParenting Media Award) method is the easiest guitar method ever for kids ages 5 and up.

This complete edition combines levels 1 and 2 with the activity pages of the Notespeller. Each lesson on every colorful page is explained in plain language that’s easy to understand; plus, you get to learn from three irresistible guitar experts—a clever, classical dog, one cool jazz cat, and a friendly alligator who loves the blues. They draw attention to what’s important on each page and help you learn by making music fun! Parents can be effective guides to help you through this course, even if they’ve never had any musical training themselves. You can stream or download the accompanying video and audio to see demonstrations and hear how the music should sound. Also included is easy-to-use computer software that lets you watch the music on-screen as it plays, speed it up, slow it down—it’s up to you!

Get ready to take your first and best step toward a lifetime of musical enjoyment!

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The Complete Guide to Playing Blues Guitar

Guitar Books - Blues Guitar

Do you hear great blues guitar songs and wish you knew how to play them? Do you want to play great solos but don’t even know where to start? Wouldn’t it be great to emulate your favorite blues musicians or even pick up your guitar and work out your favorite songs by ear!?

The Complete Guide to Playing Blues Guitar is a three-part series that teaches you the essential skills required to become a master blues guitarist.

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Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar

Guitar Books - Lead Guitar

Take your playing to the stratosphere with the most advanced lead book by this proven heavy metal author. Speed Mechanics is the ultimate technique book for developing the kind of speed and precision in today’s explosive playing styles. Learn the fastest ways to achieve speed and control, secrets to make your practice time really count, and how to open your ears and make your musical ideas more solid and tangible.

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Guitar Chord Bible

Guitar Books - Guitar Chords

Over 500 illustrated chords are covered for Rock, Blues, Soul, Country, Jazz and Classical music. This compact dictionary is designed to fit in your bag and is completed with fingering diagrams for each chord and photographs showing how each one is played.

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Acoustic Guitar Primer Book for Beginners

Guitar Books - Acoustic Guitar

The Acoustic Guitar Primer Book for Beginners with Online Video & Audio Access features step by step instruction taking the beginner through the basics of learning how to play the guitar, including rhythm and lead playing.

The student starts off by learning beginning concepts like parts of the guitar, proper playing position, strumming, chords, and how to read guitar tabs. Later, you will learn how to play easy songs and then more advanced techniques.

The course includes a complete chord chart, an hour of video instruction, and all music is written in both standard music notation and tablature with lyrics and melody lines. This beginner method contains 18 songs that are demonstrated at three speeds each along with an acoustic band, including vocals. These songs include Tom Dooley, Worried Man Blues, Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms, Dark Hollow, Amazing Grace, Pallet On Your Floor, Way Downtown, Wabash Cannonball, and others. This course is suited for beginners ranging from adults to teenagers.

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The Chord Wheel

Guitar Books - Chord Wheel

Master chord theory … in minutes! The Chord Wheel is a revolutionary device that puts the most essential and practical applications of chord theory into your hands. This tool will help you: Improvise and Solo Talk about chops! Comprehend key structure like never before; Transpose Keys Instantly transpose any progression into each and every key; Compose Your Own Music Watch your songwriting blossom! No music reading is necessary.

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Learn Your Fretboard

Guitar Books - Fretboard

Do you get lost on the guitar neck? Not knowing the notes on the fretboard is a common problem that slows down and confuses the learning process. It’s very difficult to find your way around if you can’t read the map! Fortunately, developing a working knowledge of the fretboard is among the simplest and most beneficial things a guitar player can do to streamline and accelerate their learning.

Learn Your Fretboard offers a fresh and straightforward approach to memorizing the guitar neck. This handbook outlines a definitive system for fretboard visualization that will inspire breakthroughs for guitar players of all skill levels. Regardless of whether you’ve tried and failed before, this is the perfect companion for any guitarist wanting to develop a command of the fretboard in real playing situations!

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Guitar Theory For Dummies

Guitar Books - Guitar Theory

Serious about jamming, understanding, and creating guitar-driven music? Easy.
With an approachable and engaging style, Guitar Theory For Dummies goes beyond guitar basics, presenting the guidance intermediate to advanced players need to improve their improvisational and compositional skills. Plus, with access to audio tracks and video instruction online you can master the concepts and techniques covered in the book.

Key content coverage includes: pentatonic and major scale patterns; the CAGED chord system, chord progressions, and playing by numbers; roots, keys, and applying scales, plus modes and modal scales; intervals and chord extensions; popular song references and theory applications that help you understand how to play popular music and contemporary guitar styles, and create music of your own.

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Which Guitar Book is Best For You?

As you read through this list, perhaps you saw several options that were appealing to you. Maybe you were overwhelmed by the options and wondered which book you should choose first.

What’s most important when learning the guitar is that you stay consistent and don’t give up. So don’t worry too much about picking the perfect guitar book. Just pick the one that seems most interesting and relevant to you in your current stage of playing the guitar.

Is there a guitar book that has made a drastic difference in your learning journey? Be sure to share it in the comments below!

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!