How to learn to play guitar? Is it better to learn with videos on YouTube or with an online course? Is it better to learn by reading books? In my experience, all these questions are valid, and all these can also be answered in affirmative. It is true that in these times in which we are living, guitar learning videos on YouTube have more visits compared to the sales of a good book on how to learn guitar. But this doesn’t mean that one way is better than the other. In my opinion, if you want to learn in a self-taught way, the videos and books can complement each other. Below I will give some tips about books on how to learn guitar.
Can you learn to play guitar with books?
In the days before the internet, there were not many options to learn guitar by yourself; there were only books and magazines. The internet has brought us all closer together. And being able to learn from someone who is physically on the other side of the planet is absolutely possible today. You must also bear in mind that the internet allows you to access both visual materials through videos and written content through hundreds of sites and blogs that deal with every imaginable subject.
But it also brings us closer to books, which you can be accessed physically or electronically through eBooks. In this way, you access books with photos, diagrams, and links. Which makes them very similar to any website with hypertext. I think you can learn to play guitar with books, but I don’t recommend it for beginners.
As I said before, books and visual media like videos complement each other, and so do websites that deal seriously with the subject, like this one you are reading now. Therefore I recommend starting with specialized websites, with videos and teaching books altogether. A good way to start would be to create a learning program, planning how many hours per day you can dedicate to learning. Then make a list of the basic notions that should be included in your schedule to learn to play guitar.
At this point, a book that guides you on what topics you should add to your program would be very useful. Then you can use videos and websites like All Stringed that give you tips and advice on how to play chords, scales, strumming, and fingerstyle. But always have a bunch of good books at hand to go deeper into each topic in the most complete and serious way possible.
What should you look for in a book to learn the guitar?
The most important thing is to find the right book to start your training. While there are many guitar books aimed at beginners like you, each one covers a specific angle or level of interest. It is important to choose one that gives a solid overview of how a guitar is built, how it produces sounds, and the best way to play it.
There are very well-developed books on technical aspects and music theory. Ideally, these books will guide you from the first chapters through the introductory chords, scales, and basic musical notation. Many books include worksheets and exercises for learning songs.
I believe that a good book to learn guitar for beginners should be simple and easy to read. Guitar books for beginners should be intuitive and simple. And have a logical flow where each chapter delivers the knowledge needed to move on to the next in the best possible way.
What are the best books to learn guitar?
For this article about the 5 best books on how to learn guitar, I have researched and reviewed many guitar books for beginners. I will now show you the 5 books that I would recommend to you.
‘Teach Yourself Visually Guitar’ by Charles Kim
This is one of the best guitar books for beginners. It is a complete reference guide for learning the guitar. This book covers everything for playing guitar, as its first and most important objective. I think its initial instruction makes it stand out as a guitar book for beginners. It begins with such important topics as selecting the right guitar, tuning, and posture. It shows you the essential chords, especially those that will make it easier for you to play songs.
This way, this book allows you to pick up your guitar and start strumming right away. This book will help you to know practical information and also music theory. It includes tips and advice for practicing. You can use this book to set up a daily practice routine. Teach Yourself Visual Guitar can be seen as a complete guide to playing acoustic or electric guitar. It is also an accessible reference guide.
This edition comes with an audio CD and announces that the next edition of the book will have online audio. This book is very graphic in its design, as it contains photos and graphics. This also shows you everything you need to know to play and has a chord glossary.
Charles Kim is a faculty member at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. He teaches guitar, composition, and music theory. This book shows his knowledge applied to people who are starting to learn the guitar.
‘Teach Yourself to Play Guitar: A Quick and Easy Introduction for Beginners’ by David Brewster
If you don’t know anything about guitars, this is the book for you. It probably won’t be the only beginner’s guitar book you’ll read, but it’s a very good choice as the first one. This book has a simple and straightforward presentation. It gives the minimum amount of information you need to take your guitar and start playing.
It’s one of those books designed to help people who don’t read music. It still allows you to start making music with simple tunes almost immediately. It’s a very good choice as a beginner’s guitar book. For those who want to take an introduction to the guitar without leaving home.
David Brewster is a touring guitarist and teacher. He has written for publications such as Guitar Player and Premier Guitar. This book is aimed specifically at the guitar beginner. For anyone who wants to play but has no previous musical experience. His method is based on explanations, photos, and graphics but does not contain additional audio.
‘Guitar All-In-One for Dummies’ by Jon Chappell
This book will help you achieve your musical interests and learn how to select the guitar that best suits your needs. It also takes you through the basics and then on to more specialized guitar skills. This book is accompanied by online material such as videos and audios. Surely you will find it interesting and intuitive. It also has a lot of extra material to support your practice.
This book has all the information you need, whether you are a complete beginner or already have some experience playing the guitar. It is an attractive book for the beginner guitarist, as it will allow you to learn and try out different musical styles such as blues, rock, and jazz. It has a great amount of content, where the basics are presented first and then some more advanced notions. Among its authors is Jon Chappell, who is a touring guitarist and former editor-in-chief of Guitar Magazine.
‘Complete Technique for Modern Guitar’, by Joseph Alexander and Tim Pettingale
This guitar book for beginners is an excellent complement to any learning method. However, it is not a complete method in itself. Complete Technique for Modern Guitar contains dozens of exercises designed to help you play with precision, rhythm, and skill.
You can download audios to complement the content of the book. This way, you can hear how each exercise you want to practice should sound. This book is an extraordinary resource to exercise yourself and to go beyond playing chords on the guitar.
This is the only book that I could verify that it focuses on phrasing. This is a technique about connecting notes with fluidity. It also teaches other techniques like picking. This is a good book to learn on your own at home. Joseph Alexander is a guitar instructor and a prolific author of guides. Tim Pettingale is a jazz guitarist and guitar book writer.
‘Idiot’s Guides: Playing Guitar’, by David Hodge
Idiot’s Guides: Playing Guitar is another guitar book for beginners that contains a lot of information about the instrument and how to play it. It has online audios to accompany the exercises. It is a book known for presenting the material in the best possible way to beginners and in an accessible way.
This book stands out from other books for beginners in that it will teach you about rhythm. Any experienced musician can tell you how important rhythm is in the performance of music. This book will help you in the initial phase of playing the guitar, allowing you to learn skills easily.
David Hodge has worked for Acoustic Guitar magazine. He has written other guides related to music. He is a guitar and ukulele teacher in Massachusetts.