Top 10 Guitar Books For Beginners

Looking for guitar books for beginners? In this practical guide we’ll share our top 10. Let’s get started!

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Guitar books for beginners need to be simple and have a logical flow

Unlike YouTube videos, guitar books generally follow a logical and complete course of instruction so that one chapter builds on the next. 

This is powerful. It makes you learn in a faster and more robust way.

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So having one or more of our favourite books below will enable you to build your abilities methodically and also jump straight to the skills that inspired you to pick up the guitar in the first place.

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Six of the best guitar methods have been reviewed here for you, and which one you choose depends on how you are most comfortable learning.

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Four of the guitar books for beginners in this article contain excellent reference materials, so you can look things up as you need them, and they can also help you structure your practice.

Ok let’s dive into the list!

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Top 10 Guitar Books For Beginners #1 – ‘Hal Leonard Guitar Method’ by Will Schmid and Greg Koch

The Hal Leonard method has been around for years, and it is one of the most popular guitar books for beginners. 

  • Will Schmid, one of the editors, was a venerated editor of music books for decades with a particular love of rhythm instruction. The other editor, Greg Koch, is a guitarist with scores of online reviews of guitar gear.
  • The Hal Leonard Guitar Method uses a longstanding and thoroughly vetted guitar curriculum, and many guitar instructors still swear by this book and have their students follow the method.

With or without an instructor, you can use this book as an absolute beginner. It includes access to online audio, so you can check your progress as you go along.

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What’s included?

After introducing basic guitar anatomy, this book introduces chords in usable sequences, so that after learning the first two chords, you can begin playing songs.

The book also covers rhythm in greater detail than some of the other recommended guitar books for beginners. Rhythm is a notoriously difficult musical concept to learn from scratch, and this book will help you to read and play rhythmic notation.

  • The Hal Leonard Guitar Method, Complete Edition is for you if you are interested in learning to read music on the guitar.  The downside to this book, if there is one, is that Greg Koch is an enormously entertaining guitar player and person, and this book is presented in a more matter-of-fact fashion.
  • One unique feature of this book is that it relies on standard music notation more than guitar tablature, which makes it possible for you to read music that was not specifically written for the guitar. (In the large majority of cases, this makes things harder. So beware! But if you’re already a pianist, for example, you may see this as a positive.)

So there’s lots of positives here, but some negatives for new musicians.

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Top 10 Guitar Books For Beginners #2 – ‘Teach Yourself Visually Guitar’ by Charles Kim

Horrible title, great book. This is one of the best guitar books for beginners because although it is a complete reference guide to the guitar, it goes through learning the material in a sequence that results in a satisfying playing experience as the first goal.

  • Charles Kim, the author, is a distinguished faculty member at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music, the largest community music school in the United States.
  • He teaches guitar, songwriting, bass, and music theory, and his book reflects the depth of experience he has with people who are just starting to learn the guitar.

Teach Yourself Visually Guitar is both a step-by-step guide to playing acoustic or electric guitar and an accessible reference guide. The current edition comes with an audio CD, but the next edition of the book will have online audio.

This book contains extensive photos and graphics, modeling everything you need to know in order to play, as well as a chord glossary.

 

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Teach Yourself Visually Guitar stands out as a guitar book for beginners because after introducing guitar selection, tuning, and posture, it shows you three easy essential chords that work together in songs.

This allows you to pick up your guitar and begin strumming right away.

The book follows up the practical information with the underlying music theory, so that you can go through it multiple times to deepen your understanding of how music works.

  • It also includes suggestions and tips for practicing, so you can immediately use the information in the book to set up a consistent practice routine.
  • The book progresses in a logical order, starting with quickly achievable lessons and moving through reading tablature and mastering scales for playing lead guitar.

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Top 10 Guitar Books For Beginners #3 – ‘Guitar All-In-One for Dummies’ by Jon Chappell, et al.

Guitar All-In-One for Dummies is a compendium of the “Guitar for Dummies” series and will keep you busy pursuing your musical interests for a long time.

  • Among its authors are Jon Chappell, a touring guitarist and former editor-in-chief of Guitar Magazine, and Jim Peterik, guitarist for the Ides of March and hit songwriter.
  • As a guitar book for beginners, it covers selecting a guitar to best fit your musical interests and takes you through the basics before branching out into more specialized guitar skills, so although it is massive, the information is easily digestible.

This book is accompanied by online video and audio, so once you find what you are interested in learning, there is plenty of extra material to support your practice.

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What sets this book apart from the others is its sheer size. It has information you need whether you have not yet bought a guitar or you have been playing for some time and need to reach your next level of playing.

This book appeals to the beginning guitarist who wants to try everything – blues, rock, classical, and even a little bit of jazz. There are complete chapters on techniques and tones for each different style.

Although the amount of content in this book is staggering, it is presented with the basics first and will help you find your direction on the guitar.

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Top 10 Guitar Books For Beginners #4 – ‘Teach Yourself to Play Guitar: A Quick and Easy Introduction for Beginners’ by David Brewster

The opposite of Guitar All-In-One for Dummies is ‘Teach Yourself to Play Guitar: A Quick and Easy Introduction for Beginners’. 

  • It’s a small and fast-track guide to get you started quickly.
  • The author, David Brewster, is a touring guitarist and teacher who has written for Guitar Player and Premier Guitar publications.

This book is geared specifically toward the absolute guitar beginner with no prior musical experience, so you can pick it up at the same time as your guitar.

‘Teach Yourself to Play Guitar’ contains no supplementary audio and relies on text explanations of photos and graphics to get you started.

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As one Amazon reviewer said, if you know nothing about guitars, this is the book for you. It will not be the last guitar book for beginners that you read, but it’s a good choice as the first.

What sets ‘Teach Yourself Guitar: A Quick and Easy Introduction for Beginners’ apart from all the other books is its concise presentation of the minimum amount of information you need to pick up a guitar and begin playing.

  • The book is designed to help people who do not read music start to make music right away with simple melodies, and then chords and a few riffs.
  • This is the guitar book for beginners who would like to take an introductory guitar class without leaving home.

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Top 10 Guitar Books For Beginners #5 – ‘Guitar for Absolute Beginners’ by Daniel Emery

This book is a more expansive guide to guitar for the absolute beginner than ‘Teach Yourself Guitar’, and a good read.

  • Daniel Emery, the author, is a guitar teacher and the founder of the New York School of Guitar. His classroom experience comes through in the book.
  • This book is designed to take you from “What is a guitar?” to being able to play a song, following a curriculum you might find in a 10-week session of guitar classes.

There is no accompanying online audio; however, readers are directed to a YouTube channel for video of the lessons in the book.

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‘Guitar for Absolute Beginners’ stands out from the rest of the books in this article for the quality of its writing. It is engaging and inspirational, and the descriptions are encouraging and easy to use.

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Each chapter of the book simulates a lesson plan, including anecdotes and clear instructions on what to do with your guitar, and reading it feels like sitting in a guitar class with a thoughtful and funny teacher.

This is the guitar book for beginners who would like to follow a book from start to finish and accomplish the lessons in the book as you go along. There is also a second book in the series ready for you when you would like to progress further.

Top 10 Guitar Books For Beginners #6 – ‘Idiot’s Guides: Playing Guitar’, by David Hodge

‘The Idiot’s Guides: Playing Guitar’ is a thorough guitar book for beginners, with plenty of information about the instrument as well as how to play it.

  • The author, David Hodge, has contributed to Acoustic Guitar magazine and is a teacher of guitar and ukulele in Massachusetts. He has written other music-related Idiot’s Guides.

The book has accompanying online audio, and as with some of the other books in this article, it has symbols placed where the audio materials are available.

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Idiot’s Guides are known for presenting material to absolute beginners in a friendly and accessible way, which a surprising number of beginner books fail to do.

As a guitar book for beginners this stands out from the rest when it comes to teaching rhythm.

Any musician in any of your future bands will tell you that rhythm is the most important thing, and the ‘Idiot’s Guides: Playing Guitar’ has you covered. It is emphasized early and often.

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Like ‘Teach Yourself Guitar’ and ‘Guitar for Absolute Beginners’, this book does not take you beyond the beginning phase of playing guitar, allowing you to learn skills in an easy sequence.

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It does, however, have plenty of material in the back for additional techniques and music theory.

Top 10 Guitar Books For Beginners #7 – ‘Guitar Aerobics’, by Troy Nelson

‘Guitar Aerobics’ is not a complete guitar method, but it’s a very useful and friendly practice companion.

  • The author, Troy Nelson, was the editor-in-chief of the fantastic Guitar One magazine, and he has written a series of 14-day guitar practice books.
  • Guitar Aerobics gives you one new exercise at a time, focusing on different techniques each day to add to your practice routine.

The accompanying audio serves as a metronome to help you develop your rhythm skills as well as demonstrating the daily exercise.

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When assessing guitar books for beginners, we like to think in practical terms and in this regard this book would be most useful.

Although some of the method books like ‘Teach Yourself Visually’ and ‘Guitar for Absolute Beginners’ discuss practice, ‘Guitar Aerobics’ supplements those books by telling you exactly what to do to build a particular skill.

The exercises in the book are short enough to learn and memorize, and each day’s exercise focuses on a different technical skill to add variety to your practice.

This is the book for you when your practice time is limited and you want to accomplish one thing on the guitar.

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Top 10 Guitar Books For Beginners #8 – ‘The Guitar Grimoire: The Exercise Book’, by Adam Kadmon

The Guitar Grimoire is also not a complete method. It is, however, a densely-packed book of exercises to help you develop your playing in any direction.

The author, Adam Kadmon, has written a series of Guitar Grimoire books, many of which are suitable for more advanced players.

This book is not written specifically for beginners, but the individual exercises can be done by beginners who are interested in building dexterity, technique, and stamina.

There is no accompanying audio, but the book itself is written in tablature, so once you can read tablature, it is easy for a guitar beginner to use. There is also a DVD that is available.

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‘The Guitar Grimoire’ exercise book is exhaustive. If you have burned through the ‘Guitar Aerobics’ book and want more, with this book you will be able to begin playing exercises just a bit beyond your current technical abilities.

It will be the last guitar exercise book you will need for a long, long time.

The entire Grimoire series is for the beginner who is very interested in playing lead guitar.

Top 10 Guitar Books For Beginners #9 – ‘Complete Technique for Modern Guitar’, by Joseph Alexander and Tim Pettingale

This guitar book for beginners, while not a complete method in itself, is an excellent supplement to any method. The method books cover what and when to play, and this book covers how to play.

Joseph Alexander, one of the authors, is a guitar instructor and a prolific author of guides. Tim Pettingale is a jazz guitarist and writer of jazz guitar books.

‘Complete Technique for Modern Guitar’ contains 200 exercises that are designed to help you play with more precise timing and dexterity.

The accompanying audio is included for downloading so you can hear what the exercise should sound like and play along.

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This book is an outstanding resource for training yourself to go beyond the simple ability to play notes and chords on the guitar.

  • It is the only guitar book for beginners that focuses on phrasing – the ability to connect notes fluidly – as well as picking technique and rhythm.

If you are teaching yourself how to play the guitar and you want greater satisfaction in how you sound, ‘Complete Technique for Modern Guitar’ is the book for you.

Top 10 Guitar Books For Beginners #10 – ‘Guitar Chord Bible’, by Phil Capone

Although the method books in this article all contain chord glossaries of different sizes, a chord encyclopedia is an essential guitar book for beginners because it helps grow your chord vocabulary.

  • The author of ‘Guitar Chord Bible’, Phil Capone, is the author of a guitar instructional book and a regular contributor to ‘Guitar Player’ magazine.
  • Once you have learned some basic chords on the guitar and are starting to learn your favorite songs, you will inevitably encounter charts for those songs that contain chords you have not yet come across.

In that event, the ‘Guitar Chord Bible’ is your friend. You can look up a version of that chord that is easy for you to play.

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The ‘Guitar Chord Bible’ is a complete manual of diagrams for any chord you will come across as a beginning guitar player, as well as more advanced chords and voicings.

This guitar book for beginners is a particularly good reference because it arranges the chords chromatically, with several diagrams for each, and also has a section at the end for particular chord configurations in different styles of music.

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All this learning is great, but how do I play some songs?

There are more guitar songbooks than can be counted, and they vary widely in the level of experience required and the quality of the transcriptions.

There are guitar books for beginners that compile songs by your favorite artist. One of the best and most easily usable series of books is ‘The Little Black Songbook’.

You get the idea!

Can’t find it in a beginner guitar book? Find it with us!

Guitar books for beginners are a great foundation, and you’ll find lots of complementary material here on our site.

Alternative explanations can help you understand better because they allow you to see the same thing from multiple ‘angles’.

Here are just some of the free online lessons you may enjoy:

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