With internet videos at our fingertips to teach us anything we need to know, it can be easy to forget the value of reading a physical book. However, there is something to be said about learning by reading. Reading allows you to uniquely interpret content, and constructing a visual yourself is often a powerful form of learning. 

Learning music is no different. Beginner guitarists can benefit from learning with a book, and these five reads will help them on their way to becoming a great musician. 

[Read: How to Play Guitar]

Hal Leonard Guitar Method – Complete Edition

Hal Leonard is one of the most well-known and successful guitar book publishers. His work, “The Hal Leonard Guitar Method” aims to establish the foundation for future learning.

The book has a clear framework, is organized systematically, and covers all of the fundamentals of learning guitar. This is an ideal read for beginners and intermediate guitar players who want to grow their talent. 

Will Schmid and Greg Koch, the book’s co-authors, have years of teaching expertise under their belts. They provide instruction on basic skills such as reading music, chords, different scales, and strumming patterns. The co-authors guide students through more sophisticated maneuvers in subsequent publications.

This edition combines the first, second, and third editions into a spiral-bound, easy-to-flip manual.

[Read: Online Guitar Classes]

Key Takeaways of The Hal Leonard Guitar Method

  • Instead of teaching beginners using tablature, this book teaches conventional notation, which many players find to be a more beneficial skill. 
  • The plastic comb binding makes turning pages and balancing the book on your music stand a breeze. 
  • The font size isn’t too small and the formatting is straightforward, taking the fuss out of reading and learning. 
  • It introduces you to songs you love early on to keep your enthusiasm high and prevent burnout.
  • You’ll practice melodies rather than chords, which can be more challenging and frustrating for beginners to learn. 
  • There are just two cons: the CD accompaniment is no longer available, and the coupon code that allows you to access the internet audio can be difficult to redeem.

[Read: Guitars for Beginners]

A Read For True Beginners

It’s always comforting to know you’re learning from lessons that have a history of success.

David Emery established the now famous New York City Guitar School using the same strategies he teaches in his book “Guitar For Absolute Beginners”.

Ten different lessons are included, which are meant to be studied at a pace of one per week. Depending on the amount of time you have for practice, you can speed up or slow down your pace as you see fit. Emery includes sections in this book dedicated to learning chords, as well as activities for establishing calluses and finger strength, skills that are especially important for self-taught students.

Key Takeaways from “Guitar For Absolute Beginners”

  • There are ten thorough (yet manageable) practice session plans included.
  • Concepts are conveyed through motivational stories and personal examples.
  • The book teaches how to play using proper technique in great depth and is broken down in a format that is simple to understand.
  • There is no CD included. Instead, you must go to the NYC Guitar School’s Youtube account for video instruction.
Guitar Reads

For Self Taught Students: Teach Yourself to Play Guitar

“Teach Yourself to Play Guitar”  is one of the most well-known beginner reads. Authored by David M. Brewster, a graduate of the Atlanta Institute of Music, this book introduces  beginner musicians to the fundamentals of playing, including hand and finger placement and the anatomy of the instrument.

[Read: Best Electric Guitars for Beginners]

The book isn’t written to fit any particular musical style. It includes lessons and practice songs from various popular music genres such as country, rock, and classical guitar.

The book also exposes beginner guitarists to tablature, which is a guitar-specific notation, instead of teaching the more difficult music notation right away. Brewster ensures that the book is not too bulky and overwhelming for learners who have never dealt with a guitar before. 

Don’t expect a vast amount of content. This book is to the point, which may be unsatisfactory to more experienced players. It does, however, make extensive use of illustrations, suggestions, hints, and tabs to aid in the comprehension of the material.

Key Takeaways of  “Teach Yourself to Play Guitar”

  • Includes different playing styles such as chords, strumming, and progressions.
  • With every purchase, you’ll receive a coupon for free online classes.
  • A chord chart is included in the back for easy reference.
  • It is a manageable read that isn’t too intimidating for novices who aren’t sure if the guitar is right for them.

[Read: Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners]

Music Theory For Guitarists

Learning music theory is no simple task. It requires hours of study and effort. However, no musician’s career has ever been harmed by a fundamental grasp of music theory. A strong foundation in musical theory can help you take your playing to new heights.

There aren’t many exercises in “Music Theory for Guitarists”, and you won’t learn any fancy riffs or tricks. Instead, it gets down to the basics of why your guitar sounds the way it does.

Tom Kolb, the author, explains the principles that make some people dread music theory in plain English. Even after you’ve finished studying it, you’ll find yourself referring back to the book frequently. It covers everything from reading music to guitar mechanics, explaining scales, intervals, nodes, and other music jargon in easy-to-digest terms. 

Key Takeaways from “Music Theory for Guitarists”

  • An entire chapter is devoted to finding keys in songs by ear, a difficult talent to master.
  • It gives examples of how to apply what you’ve learned in the classroom to real-life circumstances.
  • Because this is intended exclusively for guitar and not music theory in general, it has specialized content.
  • Con: The book’s content may be tough to understand for less driven players and absolute beginners.

Zen Guitar

In “Zen Guitar”, the late Philip Toshio Sudo draws from his own experiences as well as those of famous performers to help teach guitar. Through Eastern wisdom and quotes from talented musicians, he leads students down a road of musical reflection and fulfillment. 

If you’ve already studied spirituality and mindfulness, the book won’t have as much of an impact on you, but it will still bring you and your instrument closer together. Additionally, although the book is aimed towards guitarists, you can apply the lessons it teaches to any musical instrument. 

It’s easy to forget that there are no technical exercises in the book. It will undoubtedly assist beginners in adopting the proper attitude toward their instrument and in setting reasonable goals.

Key Takeaways from Music Theory for Guitarists

  • This book will teach you how to enjoy your personal musical path rather than comparing yourself to other artists. 
  • It will also teach you to play from the heart, which allows for more expressive and enjoyable playing.


After evaluating the most popular beginner guitar reads, we’re confident that any of these books will help put you on the path to becoming a great musician. 

These books are accessible, beginner-friendly, and will help you establish the fundamental techniques of learning music. We hope that this BYJU’S FutureSchool article has enriched your guitar experience. If you want more guitar resources, you can sign up for a FREE trial class where you can learn live in a 1:1 setting with knowledgeable instructors—or check out some more helpful articles.

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