Best Guitar Books for Beginners

Passion?  Check.
Guitar?  Check.
Learning Materials?  Keep Reading.

If you have the passion to learn how to play guitar, and you’ve purchased a guitar to fulfill your passion, the next piece of the puzzle is learning materials to get you started making music and improving your skills!

You may have already chosen to engage with a private guitar teacher and/or classroom guitar instructor. If so, that’s great because both can provide you with tremendous insights on proper technique and guitar knowledge.  But for all the times when you’re not with your instructor, or if you simply can’t afford one, you’ll need to learn how to teach yourself.  And one of the best ways to do that is through guitar books that focus on beginning guitar players.

Every guitar player, from the professionals who play for a living, to the intermediate players who jam with their buddies or by themselves, has been in your shoes.  And most of them have acquired skills and techniques over time through the use of guitar books.  Like any consumer product, the best guitar books acquire a reputation for quality and value, and a number of guitar books have proven to be especially useful for a beginning guitarist like you.

Just like private guitar teachers, different guitar book authors have different styles and points that they like to focus on.  This variety can be useful because you may come to realize which style of learning suits you best and how it might align with one author over another.

It’s important to remember that as a beginner, you should really focus on books that provide you with a solid foundation from which you can build into more advanced content. For example, books that focus on finger exercises and music theory are more appropriate for a beginner than an anthology of every Metallica song ever written.  Not only would the latter be useless because you wouldn’t know how to play any of the songs, it will likely frustrate you and cause you to play your guitar less instead of more.

The following list represents my top recommended and best guitar books for beginners.  I’m highly confident that each of them will add value to your guitar journey and will make you a more skilled and knowledgeable guitar player.  If at the end of the book, your passion to learn and love playing guitar has sustained or even increased, then it has done its job and has proven its worth.


Best Guitar Books for Beginners – General Knowledge

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

The Hal Leonard series of guitar instruction books are really the standard bearer for quality guitar publications.  This 3-in-1 combo pack, which is suitable for both acoustic and electric guitar players, starts out at the very beginning, covering many of the topics I’ve already written about, but then it takes you directly into playing techniques and additional music theory.

The audio tracks that come with the book is where value gets kicked up another notch, because you can now learn using your eyes and your ears.  When you play a lick, riff, scale or chord, you’ll know if you’ve got it right because you can compare yourself against the audio track. This series of books will keep you plenty occupied for several months and if you stick with it through all of them, you will be able to call yourself a real guitar player!


Best Guitar Books for Beginners – General Knowledge

Guitar All-In-One for Dummies, Book + Online Video and Audio Instruction

If you’re wondering if I’m calling you a dummy, the answer is no.  In fact, I would consider you to be very smart if you decided to choose this book for your guitar library.  The latest edition combines several of their most popular “dummies” books on guitar, so it has the ability to take you pretty far along the path of learning theory, playing exercises as well as genre-specific content (rock and blues).  It is also perfectly suited for both acoustic and electric guitar players.  Plus, the excellent video demonstrations and audio tracks available online will really help you to understand what good looks like in terms of technique and sound.

The next few books are chosen for guitarists who are inspired by a particular genre of music.  Most of these books start at the beginning of a guitar player’s journey.  And when combined with either of the more general selections above, you’ll be inspired to continue learning techniques and playing songs that you really love.  I’ve included my favorite guitar books for country, blues, rock and metal.


Best Guitar Books for Beginners – Country

Country Guitar for Beginners: A Complete Country Guitar Method to Learn Traditional and Modern Country Guitar Playing

Country music has certain chord voicings and rhythms that really help to define the genre.  This book also focuses on scales, arpeggios and soloing techniques that are frequently found in country music.


Best Guitar Books for Beginners – Blues

Blues You Can Use: A Complete Guide to Learning Blues Guitar

One of my all-time favorite best guitar books for beginners, this offering not only teaches you the fundamentals of how blues music is arranged, but it teaches you skills to develop both your rhythm and lead playing.  And maybe the best part of this book are the various solos that you will learn how to play with the backing of a full band from the audio tracks.  Each solo is offered at both full speed and slow speed to help you get the fingerings understood.  Once you get some basic skills under your belt, these solos and backing tracks will make you sound like a real blues master!


Best Guitar Books for Beginners – Rock

Total Rock Guitar: A Complete Guide to Learning Rock Guitar

From power chords to riffs, string bending and palm muting, this book does a very nice job of teaching you the essential elements of rock guitar.  The online audio that is included offers full-band backing tracks for 22 songs.


Best Guitar Books for Beginners – Heavy Metal

Metal Lead Guitar Primer

This books teaches guitar by jumping right into playing real heavy metal music.  Don’t worry, it is designed for beginners, but you’ll hear yourself playing some super loaded licks and riffs in no time.  Plus, it comes with an extensive audio accompaniment from the legendary heavy-metal guitar player and teacher, Troy Stetina.