8 Best Guitar Books for Beginners

8 Best Guitar Books for Beginners

Learning to play guitar can be such a rewarding endeavor. Deciding how to learn to play guitar, on the other hand, can be more challenging. There are so many different options that it can be difficult for a beginner to choose just how, exactly, to go about learning to play guitar. 

In my opinion, learning from a book can be a great way to go. I am probably in the minority nowadays, but I always prefer a book to a video. (Usually it’s because I can read a lot quicker than other people can talk.) The question to ask, then, is what are the best guitar books for beginners? There are so many choices, it can get overwhelming. Let’s discuss a few great options, see what they have to offer, to help you make your decision easier. 

Disclosure: Product links may be affiliate, meaning I get a commission if you click through and/or purchase.

The best guitar books for beginners

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Guitar Book for Adult Beginners: Teach Yourself How to Play Famous Guitar Songs, Guitar Chords, MusiGuitar Book for Adult Beginners: Teach Yourself How to Play Famous Guitar Songs, Guitar Chords, Musi
  • Recommended by Rolling Stone Magazine
  • step by step lessons accompanied by streaming video lessons
  • learn to play numerous popular songs
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Guitar: The First 100 Chords for Guitar: How to Learn and Play Guitar Chords: The Complete BeginnerGuitar: The First 100 Chords for Guitar: How to Learn and Play Guitar Chords: The Complete Beginner
  • Discover how to play every essential chord on guitar
  • Understand how chords work together
  • Build chord progressions and master strumming
  • Understand chord theory and construction
  • Instantly apply and use chords to make songs
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Acoustic Guitar Primer Book for Beginners: With Online Video and Audio Access (Acoustic Guitar LessoAcoustic Guitar Primer Book for Beginners: With Online Video and Audio Access (Acoustic Guitar Lesso
  • Book moves from basic concepts to more advanced techniques
  • contains 18 songs written in standard musical notation and guitar tabs
  • includes an hour of video instruction
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Guitar Fretboard: Memorize The Fretboard In Less Than 24 Hours: 35+ Tips And Exercises IncludedGuitar Fretboard: Memorize The Fretboard In Less Than 24 Hours: 35+ Tips And Exercises Included
  • Learn and understand the guitar fretboard
  • includes pattern recognition and memorization techniques to be able to fully memorize and recognize the entire fretboard
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Teach Yourself to Play Guitar: A Quick and Easy Introduction for BeginnersTeach Yourself to Play Guitar: A Quick and Easy Introduction for Beginners
  • Includes guitar tab
  • 48 pages
  • Size: 12″ x 9″
  • Author: david m. brewster
  • Isbn: 634065408
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Guitar All-in-One For DummiesGuitar All-in-One For Dummies
  • six “for dummies” guitar books in one
  • covers everything you need to know, from music theory to buying guitar to actually playing
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Hal Leonard Guitar Method Complete EditionHal Leonard Guitar Method Complete Edition
  • Three Hal Leonard guitar method books in one, plus 164 online music tracks
  • intuitive, easy to follow lessons
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My First Guitar: Learn To Play: KidsMy First Guitar: Learn To Play: Kids
  • Perfect introduction to guitar for kids
  • clear, easy to follow diagrams
  • no sheet-music required
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Teach Yourself to Play Guitar: A Quick and Easy Introduction for Beginners 

This book has an incredible 5245 ratings and is rated 4.5 stars. That means a lot of people found it very helpful in helping them learn to play guitar. The book was created specifically for people with no background in reading music. Lessons are in the popular tab format. The book includes easy to interpret diagrams, photos, and illustrations so you can see and understand exactly what you need to do. 

The book covers power chords, barre chords, open position scales and chords (major and minor), and single-note patterns and fills. It includes lesson examples and song excerpts in a variety of musical styles: rock, folk, classical, country and more. The student will become familiar with fretboard organization, chord patterns, hand and finger positions, and guitar anatomy.

One reviewer wrote: “If you know NOTHING about guitar and want to learn how to play, this is the book for you.” It explains the very beginner basics of guitar – which string does what, which fingers play which keys, how to play a chord, how to tune your guitar. This book is good if you want to learn to play quickly without reading too much. This helps play guitar but not learn about guitar, music theory, etc

Cons:

The book doesn’t discuss much music theory.

It is very basic, so if you already know the basics, this is not the book for you. 

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Guitar Fretboard: Memorize The Fretboard In Less Than 24 Hours: 35+ Tips And Exercises Included

This book teaches you how to memorize the guitar fretboard. Why is that important? You will understand how to play scales instead of just having to memorize random finger placements. You will be able to figure out chords on your own. You will know enough to be able to improvise. 

Fretboard knowledge allows you to solo better, improvise better, play better harmonies and write songs. That’s a major chunk of guitar right there!

This book includes pattern recognition and memorization techniques to create a system that is easy and simple for you to quickly memorize the fretboard and all the notes on the guitar. 

Cons:

Some reviewers say the book is short and not worth the price

Others mention that actually memorizing the fretboard in 24 hours won’t happen but you will be able to figure out what the notes are based on the tricks the book teaches you.

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Guitar: The First 100 Chords for Guitar: How to Learn and Play Guitar Chords: The Complete Beginner Guitar Method

This book will help you:

  • Discover how to play every essential chord on guitar
  • Understand how chords work together
  • Build chord progressions and master strumming
  • Understand chord theory and construction
  • Instantly apply and use chords to make songs

The book also comes with audio to listen to to help reinforce what you learn.

Cons: 

The book doesn’t contain a section on tuning.  

There are no pictures and diagrams, just text, so it may be confusing for an absolute beginner. 

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Acoustic Guitar Primer Book for Beginners: With Online Video and Audio Access (Acoustic Guitar Lessons)

This book starts with the basic concepts (parts of the guitar, proper playing position, strumming, chords, and how to read guitar tabs) then goes to more advanced techniques. The book contains 18 songs written in both standard musical notation and guitar tabs. Book also comes with an hour of video instruction. 

Cons: 

Some reviewers say that it is not the best book for absolute beginners. 

Others don’t love the song selections in the book 

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Hal Leonard Guitar Method, Complete Edition: Books 1, 2 and 3

The Hal Leonard Guitar Method is based on years of teaching students to play guitar. It is meant for beginning guitarists of all ages. This complete edition of the book comes with books 1, 2, and 3 all bound into one volume, plus 164 online music tracks to listen to and play along with. Many reviewers mentioned how intuitive the lessons were and how easy it was to follow along with. 

Cons:

Some reviewers found it boring and hard to follow along with without a teacher

The book comes with online audio access, not physical cds, so do not get this version if you are looking for actual cds

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Guitar Book for Adult Beginners: Teach Yourself How to Play Famous Guitar Songs, Guitar Chords, Music Theory & Technique (Book & Streaming Video Lessons) 

This book is recommended by Rolling Stone Magazine as the best guitar book for beginners.

These step-by-step lessons are accompanied by streaming video lessons, and are designed to be interactive, engaging, and fun. You will learn to play many guitar songs without needing to read music.

The following songs are covered in this book:

*Amazing Grace

* House of the Rising Sun

* Scarborough Fair

* Shenandoah

* Happy Birthday

* Kum-Bah-Yah

* Jingle Bells

* Home on the Range

* This Little Light of Mine

* Take Me Out to the Ballgame

* Red River Valley

* Silent Night

* When the Saints Go Marching In

* Greensleeves

* Aura Lee

* And Many More Great Songs!

This book gives you the understanding and groundwork you need to really master the guitar. 

Cons:

Some reviewers found the lessons confusing 

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Guitar All-in-One For Dummies: Book + Online Video and Audio Instruction

This book is actually six books in one. 

  • Guitar For Dummies
  • Guitar Theory For Dummies
  • Guitar Exercises For Dummies
  • Rock Guitar For Dummies
  • Blues Guitar For Dummies
  • Classical Guitar For Dummies

This huge “for Dummies” guide covers everything from basic chords to guitar theory and playing styles. It also includes some guitar maintenance tips and information. It includes guidance on buying guitars, how to string guitars, music examples in many different genres (acoustic, rock, blues, and classical), help deciphering musical notation and tablature, chord and rhythm techniques, guitar theory and the CAGED chord system, how to play lead guitar, chord exercises, and more. 

Cons:

The book is a condensed version of all six books mentioned, not the full versions

It is written in a very small font so it’s a bit hard to read

Some reviewers found it dry and boring

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My First Guitar: Learn To Play: Kids

If you are looking for a book to help kids learn to play guitar, then look no further.  This book is the perfect introduction to guitar for kids of all ages. There are clear, simple diagrams to follow (no sheet-music reading required!) to teach chords simply and easily. Your child will be playing guitar in no time!

Cons: 

Some reviewers felt that the book was too short and not enough material was covered for the price you are paying. 

What is a beginner guitar book, and why do you need one? 

There are many resources to learn guitar nowadays. There are Youtube channels dedicated to teaching guitar, and online guitar tutorials abound. There is something about having a physical book in front of you, though. Having a chord chart printed clearly in front of you, with labelled parts, can be a huge help in learning to play guitar. 

Sometimes, too, the guitar tutorial videos will show HOW to play guitar, but won’t discuss the WHY. Why do these specific notes make up that chord? Why do you play the chord on this fret and not that fret? Having a clear understanding of music theory will definitely help improve your guitar playing. Many of the books on this list discuss music theory, so you will learn the why as well as the how. Your future musician self will definitely thank you. 

So a guitar book for beginners is important for a few main reasons. It shows you, step by step, in front of you, what you need to do to play guitar and how to do it. It is easily transportable, and usable even when you don’t have internet access. 

A book is also more likely to go into music theory, giving you the knowledge you need to understand guitar and become a musician, and not just someone who can play music. 

What to look for in a good guitar book

A beginner guitar book should definitely cover the following: 

-guitar anatomy

-how to hold a guitar and basic finger placement

-how to tune a guitar

-basic chords and strumming

-Scales and octaves

-basic music theory and what chords are made of

The last one might surprise some people. Some of the guitar books on this list do not include much music theory, but I included them because some people may prefer that. However, I strongly feel that knowing basic music theory will really help a guitarist. If you understand what makes a chord, and understand how the guitar and fretboard work, you can figure out how to play any chord anywhere on the guitar. This will really help improve your guitar playing, and will help you be a better guitarist and musician in the long run. 

I can attest to this from personal experience. When I was a child, I went to guitar lessons with this sweet lady in her house. She taught me a few basic chords then jumped right into playing songs. This was very rewarding at the time, because I was able to go home and show my parents and friends all the fun songs I could now play. 

The problem was, I didn’t learn any music theory (to be honest, I don’t think the lady teaching me how to play actually knew any music theory.) I didn’t know what made up a chord and why. I could play a C major chord and use it to play “Row, row, row your boat,” but I only knew how to play the C major chord in its basic format. I didn’t know what notes made up the C major chord, or how to play it anywhere else on the fretboard. The same went for all the other chords I learned. The problem with this was a few years after I stopped my guitar lessons, I lost my pages that annotated which chords I needed for which songs, and I couldn’t play anything. Without being told which chord to play when, I was guitar incapable. I hadn’t learned the theory, and I hadn’t trained my ear, so I couldn’t really play.

Conclusion

Do you really need a guitar book? Well, no. You can learn from any number of online resources, videos, and tutorials. But should you buy a guitar book? In my opinion, yes. Having a physical book in your hands, that you can flip through at your own pace, that you can read and reread and reread, that explains guitar playing and music theory in a logical order, will definitely help improve your guitar playing. 

So which guitar book should you buy? 

After a deep dive into these guitar books, my pick is Guitar: The First 100 Chords for Guitar: How to Learn and Play Guitar Chords: The Complete Beginner Guitar Method

This book will teach you basic chords, but more importantly, it will teach you what the chords are made of, so you will be able to really understand and play guitar on your own.

But even if you don’t go with this recommendation, and of the books on this list will be great resources for you as you start your guitar journey.

And if you are looking for an affordable guitar to play once you teach yourself how, check out the best acoustic guitars under 200 dollars and the best electric guitars under 300 dollars!

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