The Best Guitar Books for Beginners


Guitar books can be extremely handy to learn techniques. They are also convenient for revising guitar chord shapes and song tabs. Self-learning the guitar from books has been widespread in the past years. However, in our digital age, this way of learning is not as common as learning from online resources is. And we can’t really come to an ultimate answer on which of the either method is more efficient. Not all online courses are the same, and not all books are the same.

You may find books that don’t contain a single visual image of, say, a particular chord shape. Most people are visual by nature, so books that make technique images a part of their content is the first thing you want to look for in books. Back in my beginner days, I tried the book-learning approach, and I failed miserably. For one, I had to play the chords without having a solid idea of what the chord looks like when played. Just seeing the shape in a chord box didn’t work for me. And finding books with images was an arduous task, so I just forgot  about the book-learning fashion and went back to online video lessons.

For all of the mentioned reasons above, I looked for books that qualify as ‘proper’ and ‘useful’ for all skill levels, especially beginners. And I’m going to be honest right from the get-go: I didn’t read every single book page by page. I only went through them very briefly and read the reviews from the buyers, and then I reached my conclusion on each book.

Hal Leonard Guitar Method Complete Edition

Hal Leonard's bookThis book is a great pick for beginners as it features 3 full books in one edition. It meets the condition  of having visual representations with the lessons. It’s also nicely organized. The book starts with the very basics by introducing the guitar anatomy and their functions. It is vital for a guitar player to know the name and purpose for each guitar part.

Part of the basics course is the introduction to tuning and its importance, as well as the correct handling of a guitar and how to properly position it on your body. Some impatient beginners may skip over these parts. That is a grave mistake. While they may seem boring and useless, skipping them won’t be to your advantage. A lot of beginners think they have the perfect idea on how to handle a guitar, only to see them attempting to play a chord by gripping the bridge tightly with their palms *facepalm.* 

The book provides lessons suitable for different guitar styles: Acoustic, electric, and even classical guitars. However, I advise using the classical lessons only as a mean of reference. Classical guitars do require a traditional teacher since they are more complex than the average acoustic or electric. But it all comes down to your choice, of course.

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The Guitar Handbook

The Guitar HandbookThe Guitar Handbook, authored by guitarist and vocalist Ralph Denyer, is suitable for all skill levels and for multiple genres that range from Rock, Blues, Jazz, or Folk. This source  book elaborates on guitar models and guitar masters. It also explains the technological renovation of amplification and recording over the past decade. The recent edition of the book contains more colorful and lively photos with expanded lessons.

Like Hal Leonard’s Guitar Method book, The Guitar Handbook also starts off with an introduction to basic notions on the guitar. The lessons gradually increase in complexity, but the book explains them in a way that makes them sound simple. You don’t have to worry about having to understand the techniques properly; you can rely on the images to help you with that. In short, this book is extremely beginner-friendly.

The Guitar Handbook is a quite ancient book, but it possess one of the best resources that both beginners and professionals can benefit from.

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Teach Yourself to Play Guitar

Teach Yourself to Play GuitarThis one is a tad bit shorter than the previous ones. It’s holds just an introduction on guitars. It covers topics like power chords, barre chords, fret-board alignment, guitar anatomy, scales, single note patterns, etc. This book was made to simplify basic notions to complete beginners. In other words, if you are well over the beginner stage with your guitar skills, then you may skip over this book, unless you want to refresh your mind on basic techniques.

One reason I recommend trying this book is that if you are a complete beginner, and still not sure if playing the guitar is your thing, this book can help you decide on whether to go further into learning. The problem with the last couple of books is that if you realize that you don’t want to learn the guitar after going through the introduction, you are going to have to carry the weight of spending money on the whole thing. You may then give it away to somebody and your money going waste. Teach Yourself to Play Guitar, however, costs only as much as it covers.

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And these, ladies and gentlemen, are three of the best books I recommend to guitar beginners to give a try if they are thinking of self-learning from written material. As far as efficiency goes, it depends on the individual. One thing you should know is that persistence is extremely essential when it comes to something like this. Learning guitar with a traditional teacher is already a challenge to the discipline itself, so be ready for the frustration. And remember, do not give up, do not listen to those who say it’s impossible. There are people who did it, and you can. 😉

Happy Playin’!

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