Best Guitar Books – Review of 10 Must Have Books

Best Guitar Books – Review of 10 Must Have Books

Whether you're just learning guitar or are an experienced player trying to improve, a good guitar book is an excellent way to help yourself. You might choose a book to supplement lessons, or you might just want to teach yourself to play. In this article, we'll take you through our top picks for the best guitar books for players at every level.

Reviews: The Top 10 Best Guitar Books

Which guitar book is best is certainly somewhat subjective. But in this list, we've included books for all levels of guitarists. Let's jump in!

Book Name

Rating

Price

Guitar Fretboard: Memorize The Fretboard In Less Than 24 Hours

Acoustic Guitar Primer Book for Beginners

100 Most Popular Songs for Fingerpicking Guitar

Guitar Chords: With Online Instructional Video

FastTrack Guitar Method - Book 1

Easy Guitar Songs For Kids

Guitar Fretboard Atlas

Guitar Aerobics

The Guitar Handbook

Guitar All-in-One for Dummies

Guitar Fretboard: Memorize The Fretboard In Less Than 24 Hours -- Best for Fretboard Memorization

Important Features

  • Easy-to-follow lessons and exercises help you feel relaxed as you learn
  • It quickly and effectively teaches you the music theory you need as a guitarist
  • It comes with printable additional exercises to further your knowledge
  • After completing the book, you'll know the fretboard well enough to effectively solo and jam

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Provides a clear map to memorizing the fretboard
  • Unlike most fretboard memorization books, it teaches you very quickly
  • It's easy enough to follow that a new guitar player could use it
  • Guitarists are invited to print out more exercises and even join the Guitar Head online community

Cons

  • Some buyers have found that the tone the book is written in to be irritating
  • Advanced guitarists may find that the fretboard memorization exercises aren't detailed enough

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

A book promising to teach you the guitar fretboard in 24 hours might sound too good to be true. But regardless, this book from the Guitar Head series is a quick and easy introduction to the fretboard. The Guitar Head philosophy is based around helping guitarists effectively bond with their instrument, and this book will certainly help you do that. It's packed with memory aids and exercises to help you practice what you learn and commit it to memory.

Our Star Rating

We think this is one of the top guitar books for learning the fretboard. We give it five out of five stars.

Acoustic Guitar Primer Book for Beginners -- Best for New Acoustic Players

Important Features

  • Online audio and online video lessons make it ideal if you plan to teach yourself to play
  • It includes 18 easy songs to play acoustically, and they come with full backing tracks
  • It works for a range of guitarists -- it's good for beginner guitar players from teens to adults
  • It's easy to follow but does a good job of challenging you

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Print, audio, and video learning resources offer an especially easy introduction for beginners
  • It provides a solid foundation for learning guitar
  • It includes easy songs, so beginners can start playing songs quickly
  • The included chord chart is a useful resource for beginners

Cons

  • Some beginners may think that this guitar book is too challenging
  • Some players may think the song collection of mostly older country songs is boring

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

This best-selling guitar book is ideal for those just learning the guitar. And while the book itself also has detailed lessons, you have access to both online audio and online video lessons. All musical exercises are written in both standard notation and guitar tabs. The book follows a logical progression -- you start out with strumming and chords before moving on to more advanced techniques.

Our Star Rating

All in all, we think this is one of the better guitar books for beginners, and it's especially great for new acoustic players. We give it four out of five stars.

100 Most Popular Songs for Fingerpicking Guitar -- Best for Fingerpickers

Important Features

  • Arrangements range from classic songs like "Blackbird" to more contemporary hits like "Hey Soul Sister"
  • The book also contains a separate melody line, so you can sing or play with another instrument
  • Songs are notated in both standard music notation and tablature
  • The arrangements are easy to customize and elaborate upon if you wish

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • The arrangements are more thoughtfully done than in many similar guitar books
  • Separate melody lines make it easy to play with the accompaniment
  • The collection of 100 arrangements means this is a book you can use for a long time
  • Given its size, this guitar book is fairly affordable

Cons

  • There are no instructions, so those just starting to play guitar may be frustrated
  • More advanced guitarists may find that some arrangements aren't complex enough

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

This probably isn't one of the most ideal guitar books for beginners. But if you have some experience and an interest in fingerpicking, this is a great collection of fingerpicking arrangements. It contains thoughtful arrangements of 100 songs, and the fingerpicking patterns are shown in tablature and traditional notation, so it's still usable even if you can't read music. It's important to note that this book doesn't contain instructions, so it's good to be familiar with at least a basic fingerpicking technique before starting with it.

Our Star Rating

While it's not an instructional text, we think this is a great guitar book for fingerpickers to build a repertoire. We give it four out of five stars.

Guitar Chords: With Online Instructional Video -- Best for Beginner Rhythm Guitarists

Important Features

  • Excellent chord documentation means you'll be able to play countless chords in no time
  • Rhythm Chord Playing System shows you how to efficiently finger chords and move between them
  • The included instructional video makes learning the guitar even easier
  • Though it's very useful, this guitar book is very affordable

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • It's one of the most thorough chord-focused guitar books we've found
  • Since chords are shown in many ways, you'll have an easier time learning them
  • Included video instruction makes it easy to play along
  • This particular guitar book was first published decades ago, and it still remains a favorite

Cons

  • Some people have said that this edition isn't as thorough as past editions
  • In some cases, the online video instruction is hard to access

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Unless you have a plan to exclusively focus on lead guitar, you'll probably want to start to learn guitar with a focus on chords and rhythms. This guitar book comes from Mel Bay, one of the classic music book authors who are still well-respected today. And while you might not want to make this the only guitar book you use, it's a good way to make sure you have a solid understanding of chords. Each chord is shown in a photo, a chord diagram, and with finger numbers. The book also features a section on Mel Bay's method for playing rhythm chords efficiently.

Our Star Rating

While you'll probably want something else for learning music theory, we think this is a great resource if you're starting out on rhythm guitar. We give it four out of five stars.

FastTrack Guitar Method - Book 1 -- Best for Fast Learners

Important Features

  • This is one of the top guitar books for players who want a fast yet thorough introduction to guitar
  • It focuses on standard notation and tabs, so it's a great way to start to read music
  • Plenty of audio examples help you check your playing, even without a teacher
  • The audio player lets you slow down or loop music samples as well as change the key

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • This book is thorough enough that you don't necessarily need a guitar teacher
  • Unlike many guitar books, this one does a good job of introducing rhythm and lead playing
  • It's part of a series, so you'll know where to pick up as you continue to learn guitar
  • It makes learning quick but enjoyable

Cons

  • With e-book purchases, it can be tough to get audio to load
  • Some players have said the book could be more descriptive in some places

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

This guitar book comes from famous publisher Hal Leonard. It's part of their FastTrack Series, which is designed to help those motivated to learn guitar progress quickly (It's a little like the better-known Hal Leonard Guitar Method). It's paced very well -- the book will help the new guitar player learn about each string to start. You'll also learn chords and a few licks and riffs. The book includes 73 songs and audio examples, all of which you can hear online.

Our Star Rating

We think this is a great choice for the beginner who wants to learn guitar fast. We give it five out of five stars.

Easy Guitar Songs For Kids -- Best for Kids

Important Features

  • Standard notation and tabs make it good for kids who can read music and kids who can't
  • 40 well-known children's songs make it a great learning resource for even very young kids
  • Included chord diagrams make it so kids can play melody or rhythm
  • Lively illustrations are sure to appeal to children

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Song arrangements are simple, so they're easy for kids to play
  • Tabs and standard notation help you teach your child to read music
  • Its easy-to-follow structure means that parents can even act as the child's guitar teacher if need be
  • The 40 songs are likely to keep children occupied for a long time

Cons

  • The book doesn't show strumming patterns, which can be difficult for children
  • There are a lot of distracting spelling errors

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Most guitar books on our list are aimed at adults, though some are good for teenagers. But if your child has just started to play guitar, even guitar books for beginners can be overwhelming. This book is a great gift for a child just learning -- you get 40 easy songs notated in chords and tablature. The book even has chord diagrams for kids, and it's full of fun illustrations, too.

Our Star Rating

We think this is a great resource for kids learning music, but it could be a bit more thorough. Still, we give it 3.5 out of five stars.

Guitar Fretboard Atlas -- Best for Experienced Lead Guitarists

Important Features

  • Useful and colorful scale diagrams help you become more familiar with different scales in different keys
  • The section on chords shows several voicings for each chord, which is a great way to add variety to your playing
  • The section on triads shows you how these useful chords can be played all down the neck
  • It's an extremely thorough reference and includes pentatonic, Mixolydian, Dorian, and other scales

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Color-coded fretboard diagrams make learning faster and easier
  • It includes power chords and different voicings of many other chords
  • The things you learn can be applied very easily to your playing
  • It's one of the most complete fretboard books we've come across

Cons

  • This book may be too overwhelming for those just starting to learn music
  • There's almost no instruction, which some players may find frustrating

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

A lot of the best guitar resources we've focused on are aimed at the beginning or intermediate players. But for those especially interested in music theory for guitarists, this book is an outstanding choice. It can be a little overwhelming at first -- it takes you through different scales in different keys, and there's also a section on chords and triads. However, the scale diagrams are easy to follow and show you where notes overlap. If you're looking for a way to learn complex scales, this is an excellent book to have.

Our Star Rating

Despite the fact that it's not really an instruction book, this is a beautifully put-together book that contains everything you ever wanted to know about the fretboard. We give it four out of five stars.

Guitar Aerobics -- Best Technique Guide

Important Features

  • Each exercise is designed to help you play the guitar for greater speed and accuracy
  • Demonstrations help you make sure you're playing correctly
  • It provides a helpful introduction to some of the best guitar techniques for advanced players
  • The exercises will help you strengthen your hands and build better stamina on the guitar

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • The one-lick-per-day program helps you develop a better practice routine
  • The book covers a wide range of musical styles
  • It's an excellent way to break your routine and focus on learning something new
  • Backing tracks and demonstrations help you have more fun while playing

Cons

  • Some advanced players find the exercises to be too simple
  • Though the book says it's for beginners to advanced players, many exercises are too complicated for beginners

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Do you have some experience playing guitar but want to learn new techniques like string skipping and alternate picking? Then Guitar Aerobics by Troy Nelson might be for you. This book is structured as a 52-week program, and it introduces one thing every day. And since learning topics like the ones in Guitar Aerobics can be tough, the online audio contains demonstrations of each exercise. You also have access to fun play-along tracks that add some interest.

Our Star Rating

If you're ready to try out techniques you want to know but were afraid to try, this is a great book to start with. We give it four out of five stars.

The Guitar Handbook -- Best Comprehensive Book

Important Features

  • It presents music theory for guitarists in a way that's easy to understand
  • You get access to diagrams of many different chords in different voicings
  • It's designed to be helpful for guitarists at every level
  • Full-color photos and an explanation of amplification techniques make it a very interesting book

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • It's designed for rock, blues, jazz, and folk players
  • The lesson section is a great supplement or independent learning resource
  • It's more thorough than many similar books
  • It profiles master guitarists, which can help beginner guitarists learn faster

Cons

  • Some people have reported that not much has changed between this book and prior editions
  • While guitar photos are nice, you might think that that space could be put to better use in a book focused on learning

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

This book is somewhat unusual in that it can help you learn music theory, introduce scales and chords, and even teach you about recording and amplification techniques. Lots of players consider it to be one of the best guitar resources out there, and it's developed with virtually every musical style in mind. It's also illustrated with a lot of full-color guitar pictures -- they may not help your learning, but they're fun to look at.

Our Star Rating

If you're looking for thorough books on how to play the guitar, this is a solid option. We give it 3.5 out of five stars.

Guitar All-in-One for Dummies -- Best Complete Learning System

Important Features

  • Introductions to guitar anatomy and music theory help prepare you to start playing
  • Audio and video lessons help you play the guitar by demonstrating it to you
  • While it's designed with the beginner in mind, it introduces you to many different musical styles
  • It's easy to read and follow along with

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Chord charts and exercises help you become a proficient player relatively quickly
  • Video and audio instruction is almost like having a personal tutor
  • The theory grounding you get will make future learning a lot smoother
  • Despite being so comprehensive, this is one of the more affordable books out there

Cons

  • If you want to play a substantially different genre than what this book covers (like metal) it may not be right for you
  • Some players may want a program that places more emphasis on learning theory

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Some guitar books for beginners are great for teaching yourself to play, and this is one of them. This book covers basic music theory, and it also gives you some practice in rock, blues, and classical styles. Best of all, it comes with online video and audio instruction, too. The book has seven books in one, so it can take you pretty far in your guitar journey.

Our Star Rating

We think this is one of the best guitar books for beginners out there. We give it five out of five stars.

How Do You Choose The Best Guitar Book?

If you're a guitarist who has run a quick search for "guitar books," chances are that the results were overwhelming. And while it's a good thing that there are so many book choices out there, it does make it hard to pick out one. Whether you just want a quick and easy introduction for beginners, there's a book for every level of player.

What Type Of Book Do You Need?

If you want a complete handbook on playing guitar, a thorough book like the Hal Leonard Guitar Method Complete Edition is a great choice. Many of these books do a good job of offering a well-rounded set of lessons and exercises, and many also integrate music theory as you learn. For beginners, the in-depth theory isn't necessary while you're learning guitar, but there are some essential things you need to know.

There are also guitar books dedicated to teaching you specific skills, or those that focus on a particular genre. If you're looking to get more familiar with your guitar and want to improve soloing, a book focusing on scales and fretboard memorization is a good choice. Books like Guitar Aerobics focus on developing speed, dexterity, and accuracy.

Do You Want Supplemental Materials?

If you're planning to teach yourself to play guitar, you might be perfectly fine with just a book. However, some guitarists prefer some extra resources. Many books, especially those focusing on playing lead guitar, come with backing tracks you can play along with. This is a nice feature because it gives you the experience of jamming and playing along with others -- a useful skill if you want to play with a band or even do the multi-track recording yourself.

Some guitar all-in-one books even come with supplemental instructional material. For example, Guitar All-in-One for Dummies includes a guitar book, but it also comes with video and audio lessons. Especially when you're a beginner guitar player, it can be very helpful to have someone demonstrating the correct guitar technique.

How Advanced Are You?

This may sound obvious, but before selecting a guitar book, be sure to take your own experience level into account. If you're a beginner, you might become overwhelmed by a book focusing on scales or advanced techniques. Some books, like the Hal Leonard Guitar Method, come in a series, so it's easy to tell what you should learn next.

In Conclusion

So what's the best guitar book out there? Our top choice, especially among guitar books for beginners, is Guitar All-in-One for Dummies. This is a great book that will give you a solid foundation as a guitarist, and video and audio lessons let you check your playing and see demonstrations.

We think that Guitar Fretboard: Memorize The Fretboard In Less Than 24 Hours is a great runner-up choice -- it will help intermediate to advanced players improve their knowledge of the guitar and their ability to improvise. Whichever book you choose, be sure to consider both your experience level and your goals as a player. Happy playing!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top