Top 10 Best Books Every Beginner Guitar Player Must Read

Learning guitar is fun and joy. If you are just beginning to learn guitar, here are my top ten books recommendation that every beginner guitar player must-read.

These are some of the best guitar books and will help you grow your skills not just as a guitar player, but also as a musician and as a human. These books focus on the following skills:

  • Improve your playing techniques and fundamentals.
  • Develop motor skills and speed.
  • Build songs repertoire.
  • Understand music theory and its use.
  • Develop good listening skills and ear train.
  • Get a better idea about the music industry.
  • Get Inspired.
  • Above all, develop a mindset to learn, grow, have fun and create.

So let's find out the top 10 books every beginner guitar player must-read. I have also included One Bonus Book recommendation at the end. Make sure you dedicate time and read them because just knowing the names will not help you grow and get better.

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Book 1 — Hal Leonard 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 in a step-by-step intuitive approach.

Why I Recommend This Book?

The biggest reason why most beginner guitar players quit guitar way too early is that they do not have a systematic approach and the right tools to learn.

Hal Leonard Guitar Method book will help you get started with learning guitar in the right direction at a gradual place and will act as a go-to reference at all times. This book takes out all the guesswork to learning guitar. You get a systematic approach that is well tested over a period of time and according to me is one of the easiest ways to learn guitar as a beginner.

You start with all the fundamentals and gradually grow. The best part about the book is it illustrates what needs to be done with clear instructional images. Bonus — you also learn to read music along with learning guitar.

This book is a must-have as a beginner guitar player and I suggest you straight away get the super-convenient Complete Edition, which features the new and improved method books 1, 2 and 3.

Book 2 — Guitar Aerobics: A 52-Week, One-Lick-Per-Day Workout Program for Developing, Improving & Maintaining Guitar Technique

Building speed, dexterity, chops, picking and fret-hand accuracy is a must to get better at playing the guitar. Guitar Aerobics gives you 365 days plan that will help you to achieve all your technique, dexterity, and speed goals. It is a daily dose of "Guitar Vitamins" to help you get better at guitar playing.

Musical styles include rock, blues, jazz, metal, country, and funk. Techniques taught include alternate picking, arpeggios, sweep picking, string skipping, legato, string bending, and rhythm guitar. These exercises will increase speed, and improve dexterity and pick- and fret-hand accuracy.

Why I Recommend This Book?

When you sit down to practice, you must know what you are going to practice today in advance. This book exactly does that.

Guitar Aerobics covers all the fundamentals required to get a better guitar playing technique. It provides you with a well-structured practice routine for a year. The routine is super easy to follow and is fun.

Guitar Aerobics also offers to accompany play-along audio tracks at different metronome settings, ensuring that all the guesswork is out, and you focus on learning at all times.

Get Guitar Aerobics book along with Hal Leonard Guitar Method Complete Edition. Make them your go-to, and you are all set to rock the world.

Book 3 — Vaideology Basic Music Theory for Guitar Players

Vaideology book was designed to help both beginners and veteran guitar players. Vai takes a deep dive into the basics of music theory to help players better understand the language of music and become more musically literate.

Through in-depth discussions of music theory fundamentals, the esteemed player combines practical exercises, diagrams, tips, practice methods, and various ways of looking at music to help kick-start a new view of the guitar for readers. Topics covered include: Academic vs. Experiential Learning; Notes on the Neck; Music Notation; Reading & Writing Music; Scales; Intervals; Key Signatures; Circle of 5ths; Chords and Chord Scales; Rhythm Basics; Time Signatures; Guitar Harmonics; Modes; and more.

Why I Recommend This Book?

Music theory is one topic that baffles all beginner guitar players. There are thousands of questions in mind when getting started with music theory. Getting these questions straight in the very beginning is a must. This book does exactly that, gets you on the right path to learning music theory as a guitar player.

Steve Vai, in his super-cool style and ways, will teach you music theory. It is easy to understand and well-structured.

Vaideology is also a full-colour instructional book and features in-depth discussions of the music theory fundamentals that every aspiring (and veteran) guitar player should know.

I am a big fan of Sir Steve Vai. Not only his music but his ideology and the way he perceives life. Getting a new fresh perspective on life, while learning music theory, is surreal.

Book 4 — The Rhythm Bible: Book & CD

Developed by the author during a lifetime spent as an arranger and performer, this unique, well-planned book, trains musicians to understand and perform the most complex rhythms at sight. It contains well over 1,000 examples of rhythmic figures common in jazz, rock, Latin, blues, funk and other styles. The CD demonstrates rhythms from throughout the book performed in a variety of feels.

Why I Recommend this book?

As a guitar player, you cannot avoid rhythm. Rhythm is the soul of music. Understanding rhythm will not only make you more confident while playing with other musicians, but it will also make your music a lot more groovy and interesting.

The Rhythm Bible book has over 1000 exercises. So you get a lot of practice. The idea is to practice them all until you become fluent in reading and counting rhythms, which would be a benefit to any musician.

The book is well organised and follows a systematic approach to learning rhythm as a beginner musician.

I recommend you buy the printed book and CD over the Kindle or PDF version of this book. There are two reasons for this:

  1. While learning rhythm, you will scribble all over the book.
  2. The Kindle version is not well-formatted. I do not personally own the Kindle version, but a few readers have reviewed the same. So, even if you decide to buy the Kindle version, make sure to check a sample beforehand.

Book 5 — Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory: A Complete Self-Study Course for All Musicians (Book & 2 CDs)

In this all-in-one theory book, you will learn the essentials of music through 75 concise lessons, practise your music reading and writing skills in the exercises, improve your listening skills with the enclosed ear training CDs, and test your knowledge with a review.

Why I Recommend This Book?

I know you must be thinking, one more theory book?

Well, this book is a must if you want to ace your music theory. It works well in conjunction with Vaideology book. Vaideology will introduce all the music theory concepts quickly. Alferd's essential music theory will help you dive deep in.

Alferd's Essentials Of Music Theory will not only help you learn music theory and learn to read music. It will also help you ear train and develop your ears.

Ear training is a crucial aspect that most beginner guitar players ignore, and later in the intermediate stages, they regret it. I am among one of those players. Please do not make the same mistakes that I did.

Getting good at music theory will take effort, but rewards are worth every effort.

Book 6 — Beginning Songwriting: Writing Your Own Lyrics, Melodies, and Chords

This book presents the basic concepts of popular songwriting, such as song construction, creativity techniques, melodic and harmonic development, how to write memorable lyrics, and other core topics. Hands-on exercises make it practical, and the accompanying online recording illustrates the concepts for those who don't yet read music.

Why I Recommend This Book?

Most beginner guitar courses do not even talk about songwriting. This is wrong. The guitar is a great instrument for songwriting, and nearly all of us wish to write songs. The earlier a student starts with songwriting, the better.

Beginning Songwriting book is great for beginners to understand songwriting and song structure. You go through all the basic topics of songwriting in a well-structured manner. There are several exercises as well.

So do not ignore this book. Once you have a good hold of the basics of guitar playing, get this book as well. It will help you write better music using your guitar.

Book 7 — Bob Dylan: 'Chronicles, Volume One' (2004)

Bob Dylan's Chronicles: Volume One explores the critical junctions in his life and career. Through Dylan's eyes and an open mind.

Why I Recommend This Book?

This book is an autobiography of one of the greatest singer-songwriters, Bob Dylan.

Chronicles, Volume One gives you an insight into how great musical minds think and live. This autobiography will give your life a new perspective and it will inspire you.

I suggest you read autobiographies or biographies of musicians, guitarists, or artists. You may even read autobiographies or biographies of any other artist that you like. This will make you more thoughtful, inspired and end of the day a better musician.

Book 8 — Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

An inspiring guide to creativity in the digital age, Steal Like an Artist presents ten transformative principles that will help readers discover their artistic side and build a more creative life.

Why I Recommend This Book?

Steal like an artist is all about creating without overthinking and over analysing. It is based on the ideology that nothing is original, and you should not overthink. The book states 10 principles that you can implement immediately to stay creative and get productive.

This book is a great read for an aspiring artist. Get it, keep it beside your bed and read it.

Book 9 — You Get What You Give: A Simple Story for Finding Success in the Music Business

A book about music, marketing, and making an impact. If you want to transform your hobby into a profitable and sustainable career, this business parable will share what you need to succeed.

Why I Recommend This Book?

As a beginner, you might be wondering why am I recommending a music business book?

Well, understanding how the industry works is critical if you wish to succeed and make an impact in the music business.

You Get What You Give is not a how-to or a step-by-step guide, this book is a novel, an interesting story, that will teach you a lot about routine, freelancing and how you can turn your hobby into a business.

Turning into a full-time musician might not be a goal of every beginner guitar player, but his book is a fun read for every beginner artist.

Book 10 — The Classical Music Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained

Big Ideas Simply Explained series uses creative design and innovative graphics along with straightforward and engaging writing to make complex subjects easier to understand.

Why I Recommend This Book?

Do you have curious questions like where did music notations come from? How was classical music written? Who invented the guitar? Or maybe any other

This book will probably answer all the curious questions that you might be having.

The Classical Music Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained teaches you the history of music and also answers several curious questions.

Understanding music history will help you develop as a musician. Remember, guitar playing is not just about techniques, it is way beyond.

Bonus Book — The Organised Songwriter: How to Create Space to Write Your Best Songs

As guitar players, songwriters, artists there are a million things that try to take us away from our precious time doing what we love doing — the beautiful craft.

The Organised Songwriter – How to Create Space to Write Your Best Songs offers fresh insights to help you be more productive. Just like a pro.

Why I Recommend This Book?

Do you know how beginners become pros?

You might have heard the answer a million times before - "Practice"

But do you know how to make time and allocate all that time to practice?

This book is about managing time, staying focused and staying organised. This book will help you make smarter decisions and manage your time better.

The book is aimed at songwriters, but the principles remain the same for all artists. Read it, embrace it, live it.

Now you know the books that will help you grow as a guitar player. If you are a complete beginner guitar player and you read this article, congratulations.

My recommendation for a complete beginner guitar player is to start with the first three books together. Read them first and add on the rest book incrementally.

If you have some experience and know your goals, go with the flow and have fun. Read the books that suit your needs.

If you have any other books that you love and wish to share with me, or if you have any questions, please do comment below.

If you wish to learn guitar for free - check out my complete beginner guitar course.

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Udeeksh Sood on

Udeeksh is an Audio Engineer and Co-Founder of learnmusicproduction.in. He loves to produce music, research music gear, play guitar, go on treks and road trips.