Listen Up! Whet Your Fret with Good Guitar Reads

There are thousands of guitar books on the market, from instructional to biographical. We’ve compiled some recent titles—with a few older ones tucked in—to round out your reading list in 2020.


The Hal Leonard Guitar Method, Complete Edition: Contains Books 1, 2 and 3 bound together in one easy-to-use volume

by Will Schmid and Greg Koch

Designed for the beginning guitarist, musicians Schmid and Koch draw on some of the best teaching ideas from around the world. The authors have expertise teaching guitar students of all ages. A comprehensive but convenient edition, it features all three method books, complete with audio examples for demonstration and play-along.



Teach Yourself to Play Guitar: A Quick and Easy Introduction for Beginners (Kindle Edition)

by David Brewster

This book is designed specifically for the student with no music-reading background. With lesson examples presented in today’s most popular tab format, which also incorporates simple beat notation for accurate rhythm execution, Teach Yourself to Play Guitar offers the beginning guitarist not only a comprehensive introduction to essential guitar-playing fundamentals, but a quick, effective, uncomplicated and practical alternative to the multitude of traditional self-instructional method books.

It covers power chords, barre chords, open position scales and chords (major and minor), and single-note patterns and fills and includes lesson examples and song excerpts in a variety of musical styles rock, folk, classical, country and more. Easy-to-interpret diagrams shows fretboard organization, chord patterns, and hand and finger positions.


Music Theory: Hal Leonard Guitar Method Supplement to Any Guitar Method, (Kindle Edition with Audio/Video)

by Tom Kolb

Guitarists of all levels will find a wealth of practical music knowledge in this special book and embedded audio combination. Veteran guitarist and author Tom Kolb dispels the mysteries of music theory using plain and simple terms and diagrams. The embedded audio provides 94 tracks of music examples scales modes chords ear training and much more



Jazz Guitar Soloing: The Cellular Approach

by Randy Vincent

The ultimate practice book for serious jazz guitarists, The Cellular Approach introduces a practical method for developing the ability to create convincing jazz solos in a wide variety of playing situations. It takes actual jazz lines recorded by master players and slices them up into small “cells” that can be re-combined into longer lines to fit almost any harmonic situation. This enables the player to improvise his or her own lines that sound just as interesting and melodic as the masters. Fingerings and string choices are provided, making it particularly valuable to guitarists who want to actually master their instrument.


Jazz Guitar Chord Mastery: A Practical, Musical Guide to All Guitar Chord Structures, Voicings and Inversions (play jazz guitar) 2nd Edition

by Joseph Alexander and Tim Pettingale

Learn and incorporate essential jazz guitar chord vocabulary into your playing quickly, easily, and logically. More than 150 creative exercises with audio, this book is a method that easily develops your harmonic knowledge and fretboard skills, while helping you master and use advanced jazz chords, voicings, and inversions. Daunted by jazz chords and comping? Jazz Guitar Chord Mastery begins by breaking down jazz harmony into four basic chord types: Maj7, m7, 7 and m7b5. Every common arrangement (or ‘drop’ voicing) of these chords is covered in detail, along with advice on when they are best used, which ones are a priority to learn, and how to incorporate them into your playing.


Complete Technique for Modern Guitar: Develop Perfect Guitar Technique and Master Picking, Legato, Rhythm and Expression, 3rd Edition

By Joseph Alexander and edited by Tim Pettingale

This book destroys the notion that aspiring players must spend all their practice time accelerating through progressively more difficult and obscure exercises. This book focuses on only the exercises that most quickly develop the fundamental four areas of guitar technique: picking, legato, playing in time, and expression. Each exercise is accompanied by a full explanation, practice hints, and an individual audio track to make sure you are making the most of your practice time. Only exercises which generate immediate, tangible improvements are included so there is always an immediate, musical benefit to your playing.


Learn Your Fretboard: The Essential Memorization Guide for Guitar

by Luke Zecchin

Guitarist Luke Zecchin offers a fresh and straightforward approach to memorizing the guitar neck. This handbook outlines a definitive system for fretboard visualization that will inspire breakthroughs for guitar players of all skill levels. Regardless of whether you’ve tried and failed before, this is the perfect companion for any guitarist wanting to develop a command of the fretboard in real playing situations.

Gain a comprehensive understanding of the shape and structure of the guitar fretboard. Learn to locate notes, chord shapes, and scale patterns in any position with ease. Understand how to translate musical ideas to different areas on the guitar neck. Be able to clearly visualize and communicate what you’re playing to other musicians.


Guitar Chord Master: Power Chords

by Christian J. Triola

Learning power chords helps prepare you for more advanced chords like barre chords and moveable shapes by strengthening your fingers and getting you acquainted with the location of their root notes. In an easy-to-follow format, you will learn to navigate the neck as you play them from the open position all the way up to the 12th fret. On top of that, you’ll learn the music theory behind power chords and how to use them creatively, drop “D” tuning, strum patterns, and palm muting. By the time you’ve completed this book, you’ll be ready to play a countless number of rock songs and tackle barre chords with confidence.


Guitar Aerobics: A 52-Week, One-Lick-Per-Day Workout Program for Developing, Improving and Maintaining Guitar Technique

by Troy Nelson

From the former editor of Guitar One magazine comes a daily dose of vitamins to keep your chops fine-tuned. The exercises cover several musical styles including rock, blues, jazz, metal, country, and funk. Techniques include alternate picking, arpeggios, sweep picking, string skipping, legato, string bending, and rhythm guitar. These exercises will increase your speed and improve your dexterity and pick- and fret-hand accuracy the more you practice them.


Easy Fingerpicking Guitar: A Beginner’s Guide to Essential Patterns & Techniques

by Andrew DuBrock

Whether you are completely new to the guitar or have tried fingerpicking in the past but could never get the hang of it, this easy-to-use book with online audio for electric or acoustic guitar is a must read. Its progressive approach is designed to bring you from an absolute beginning level of fingerpicking to a point where you can play many songs with multiple picking patterns and create countless patterns of your own. Includes tablature and recorded audio tracks of every example in the book.


The Birth of Loud:  Leo Fender, Les Paul, and the Guitar-Pioneering Rivalry That Shaped Rock ‘n’ Roll 

by Ian S. Port

When Leo Fender’s tiny firm marketed the first solid-body Fender Esquire electric guitar, musicians immediately saw its appeal. When Gibson, the largest guitar manufacturer, countered with the “Axe” (endorsed by Les Paul), the world’s most heated rivalry was born: Gibson versus Fender. Their contest turned into an arms race as the most inventive musicians of the 1950s and 1960s adopted one or the other guitar. By 1969, it was clear the electric guitar had launched music into a radical new age, empowering artists with a vibrancy and volume never before attainable.

“With appropriately flashy prose, [Port] dismantles some misconceptions and credits some nearly forgotten but key figures. He also summons, exuberantly and perceptively, the look, sound, and sometimes smell of pivotal scenes and songs. The Birth of Loud rightfully celebrates an earlier time, when wood, steel, copper wire, microphones and loudspeakers could redefine reality. Tracing material choices that echoed through generations, the book captures the quirks of human inventiveness and the power of sound.—New York Times Book Review


Guitar: The World’s Most Seductive Instrument

by David Schiller

A full-color, slip-cased edition, this book features 200 instruments in stunning detail:

  • iconic instruments like Prince’s Yellow Cloud, Willie Nelson’s Trigger, Muddy Water’s Thunderbird, and Rocky, lovingly hand-painted by its owner George Harrison. Historic instruments
  • Fender’s Broadcaster, Les Paul’s Log, the Gibson Nick Lucas Special, the very first artist model.
  • Hand-carved archtops, pinnacles of the luthier’s art, from John D’Angelico to Ken Parker.
  • Stunning acoustics from a new wave of women builders, like Rosie Heydenrych of England, who’s known to use 5,000-year-old wood retrieved from a peat bog.
  • And quirky one-of-a-kind guitars, like Linda Manzer’s Pikasso II—four necks, 42 strings, and a thousand pounds of pressure.


100 Indie Rock Riffs for Guitar: Learn 100 Indie Rock Guitar Riffs in the Style of the World’s 20 Greatest Players

by Joseph Alexander and Pete Sklaroff

Master indie rhythm guitar, learn 100 licks and riffs, and discover indie textures and chords. Complete with 120 audio examples and backing tracks, guitarist biographies, and technical analysis, guitarists will benefit from detailed theory and technique, highlighting concepts behind the riffs and absorb them into your own playing. This book comes with downloadable supporting audio examples and backing tracks to help you get inside the music and quickly apply each riff in a real musical situation.


1001 Guitars to Dream of Playing Before You Die 

Edited by Terry Burrows

Lavishly illustrated, comprehensive, authoritative—this definitive guide to the most important and groundbreaking guitars is the perfect book for aspiring musicians and serious fans alike. This latest volume in the hugely popular 1001 series surveys the world’s most popular musical instrument. Popular culture has enjoyed an intense love affair with the guitar in both its acoustic and electric forms.


Guitar King: Michael Bloomfield’s Life in the Blues

by David Dann

In vivid chapters drawn from meticulous research, including more than seventy interviews with the musician’s friends, relatives, and band members, music historian David Dann brings to life Michael Bloomfield’s worlds, from his comfortable upbringing in a Jewish family on Chicago’s North Shore to the gritty taverns and raucous nightclubs where this self-taught guitarist helped transform the sound of contemporary blues and rock music. With scenes that are as electrifying as Bloomfield’s solos, this is the story of a life lived at full volume.


Here’s a few links of interest you may want to check out as well:


Theresa Litz is a staff writer for Making Music.

Related posts

Leave a Reply