So, you want to learn to play guitar?
As a seasoned guitar teacher, I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked, “How do I learn to play songs on guitar?” I feel like the biggest mistake my students, and most beginners make, is that they pick up the first few guitar books they see on a list on some site and learn from that.
You don't need music theory
when it comes to modern guitar playing most of the guitar books you find nowadays are far too theoretical and technical for new guitarists to actually learn anything from. They leave them frustrated and clueless.
What no one talks about or rarely any guitar books cover is the one method that is quintessential for beginners to learn the guitar. It is so unheard of that it has a become a secret now.
The secret to guitar playing
Guitar playing isn't easy, but it isn't as hard either. You just need to be aware of this secret.
The secret method the key tool, and the arcane knowledge that every beginner guitarist need is, listen closely now, enthusiasm, patience and a guided approach. Yes, that’s it. No fancy musical theory, just right direction and plenty of enthusiasm to enjoy playing guitar.
How long does it take to learn guitar? Can you learn in 3 months?
The simple answer is that it depends. Now, before you roll your eyes, hear me out, there is no actual end to learning guitar. Go talk to some of the great artists out there, all of them humbly say that they are still learning.
But if you're question is can you learn the basics like being able to play songs, do basic chords or paly a gig? then yes you can get to that point pretty quickly.
Choosing the best guitar books for beginners
Be careful while choosing the guitar book of your choice, as I've mentioned earlier, too much music theory will serve you no purpose. Pick a pen and paper now, it’s time for you to create a checklist.
I’ve listed down all that you need to know before buying a beginner guitar book.
But before that here’s a disclaimer.
Disclaimer: In my 20+ years of guitar playing experience and having read many guitar books; I have encountered a fair amount frustration myself. So, I have authored my own line of guitar books to help beginners learn guitar the easy way.
No shortcuts, just that all the fluff and mindless theories have been chucked out to give a practical approach.
Here are my 3 best guitar books to learn guitar for beginners.
The guitar books mentioned are exclusively for absolute beginners and they are ranked in the order you need to get them.
1. Guitar For Beginners: How To Play Your First Song in 7 Days
Have you been told that learning guitar is incredibly complicated?
Well, that’s because most people go about it the wrong way, reading music theory - wasting hours practicing with no progress. This sucks the joy out of learning guitar, making it a tedious task.
But what if there was a way to do it quicker? A way to make guitar learning fun and get you playing as soon as humanly possible.
That’s exactly what this book does! Designed for absolute beginners, the guitar lessons are refined and streamlined approach will have you jamming on the guitar like you’ve known it for months.
With answers to beginner questions like how to hold a guitar to advanced questions like how to add articulations and improvise while playing – this book is the ultimate beginners’ guide to guitar mastery!
2. Guitar Exercises For Beginners: 10X Your Guitar Skills In 10 Minutes A Day
With over 100 well-crafted exercises, Guitar Exercises for Beginners will ensure a balanced mix of melody, harmony and rhythm. It starts with simple guitar tablature and finger independence exercises.
Then we move up a level to things like - how to hold a pick, picking methods, and strumming patterns. Followed by exercises for techniques like hammer-ons and pull-offs.
With exercises dedicated to chords and scales – the book will make sure the concepts stick! After having mastered the basics – we move onto playing melodies and chords.
Where we then end in style! With 10 popular chord progressions used by guitar gods such as - Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Green Day, Aerosmith we’ll get you ready for your journey with popular songs.
3. Guitar Fretboard: Memorize the Fretboard in 24 Hours
This is one of our bestsellers on Amazon, with over 8000 happy customer reviews. This book has worked wonders for many aspiring guitarists and has helped them move on to scales and chord progression very easily.
Have you been told that learning the fretboard takes years of practice? Do you want to solo but have no idea how to navigate the fretboard?
Well, fret not – this is just the thing for you. A one stop solution to decode the mysterious fretboard forever with mnemonics and scientifically backed memory tricks – LEARN IN JUST 24 HOURS!
Now that you now the guitar books I have in store for you, you can compare with other books available online and take your call.
Guide on How to choose the best guitar books for beginners?
Alright, it’s time we dive in to see what to look for in a guitar book as a beginner and the type of books you should get.
Ask any good guitar teachers and these are the three things they would recommend to learn guitar the right way.
- Learn how to hold a guitar, learn basic tabs, play a few musical melodies.
- Practice, practice and practice
- Memorize the notes and start playing the scales or chord progressions
Let’s go deeper into these points and see what all a guitar book should cover to fulfil these points.
First type of guitar book you need to get as a beginner guitarist
Pick a book that teaches you, all about the basics of guitar gear, TAB, and exactly how to use them all with a little bit of guitar theory. Make sure the approach of the book is practical, you don’t want to be bogged down by music theory a lot. So, here are the things the book should teach you.
How to Hold Your Guitar and Pick
Learning how to hold a guitar may seem like the most obvious thing ever. I mean, you’ve seen other people do it hundreds of times, so how hard can it be? Well, there are a few things beginner guitarists can get very wrong, though. You need to learn how to:
- Rest your guitar on the correct leg
- Use the correct arm to stabilize your guitar
- Make sure your fretting hand is free
- Ensure your guitar is positioned correctly
How to Tune Your Guitar
You can be the greatest guitarist in the world, but if your guitar is out of tune, you’ll sound horrible.
With that in mind, how should you tune your guitar? The universal standard tuning is E, A, D, G, B, E, and this is what most of the songs you’ll learn early on are in tune with.
The Basics of TAB
Guitar tab is a way of writing music that was specifically designed for guitarists. You don’t need to know any theory or classical jargon to learn to play songs on guitar as long as it’s written in tab.
The first thing you’ll notice is that tab sheets have six horizontal lines. Each of these lines represents a string on your guitar: The top line is the thinnest string and the bottom is the thickest.
If you know TAB, then you have the tools to learn any guitar song out there. While it may seem complex at first glance, with the right help it becomes very easy.
Strumming and Chords
Look at nearly any popular songs' tab and you’ll notice that at some point a group of notes bunch up and need to be played at the same time. This is a chord, and although it may look daunting, it’s very easy to get the hang of. Playing a guitar chord is as simple as positioning your fingers in a comfortable position so that they can reach all the notes on your tab and then running your pick, or a finger, over the strings in a sweeping motion.
Teach Popular Melodies
Melodies are the groups of notes in songs that make them recognizable; being able to play your favorite melodies is a rite of passage for any new guitarist.
Out of all the melodies in music, the five most popular melodies for new guitarists to learn, in no particular order, are:
“Smoke on the Water” - Deep Purple
“Mannish Boy” - Muddy Waters
“Back in Black” - AC/DC
“Seven Nation Army” - The White Stripes
“Enter Sandman” - Metallica
Secondly, focus on guitar exercises to advance your guitar playing skills
The second type of book you should get is an exercise book, that teaches you how to practice guitar the right way everyday so that you move on to more specialized skills quickly.
Exercise is super important for guitarists; just like a pro athlete, we need to Keep on top of our game by training daily. Just ask the advanced guitarists and they'll tell you just how important it is to practice.
Some guitarists waste hours a day doing pointless and ineffective exercises. Luckily, that isn’t necessary for those who know our secret tricks to 10-minute exercises.
Coming back to what you should look for in an exercise book or practice book as others call it.
Finger Dexterity and Independence
Learning the guitar makes you realize just how little control you actually have over your hands. Although your brain knows what to do, it's hard to get your fingers to follow the same plan. That’s where exercises come in; it's all about muscle memory, and the only way to build that is through repetition.
The routine should revolve around the following techniques to ensure a rounded and complete guitar playing ability:
- Finger independence exercises
- Alternate vs economy picking
- Melody exercises
- Chord exercises
- Scale patterns
Time Signatures, Rhythm, and Chord Shifting
While finger dexterity and independence make up the physical side of the guitar exercise routine, time signatures, rhythm, and chord shifting make up the theoretical side.
Go and listen to your favorite song: I bet you’ll be tapping your foot or bobbing your head along to it. When you do that, you're emphasizing the beat of that song. Time signatures are simply a way of keeping track of that beat as a guitarist.
The time signature of a song will let you know how many beats are in a piece of music and what type of notes are played on the beat.
Major Scale in Different Keys and Positions
The major scale is the most popular scale in music. This scale is used in every genre from heavy metal to blues, from pop to indie. But what is the major scale?
A scale in music is simply a group of notes that are arranged in order of pitch. Every scale is named after the first note in its sequence; this means an A major scale will always start on A. This first note is called the root note.
Knowing the major scale is the most important early step to being able to write and improvise your own music.
Advanced Guitar Chords: Major 7th, Minor 7th, and Dominant 7th
Major 7th, Minor 7th, and Dominant 7th chords are the chords that add flavor to the music you play. These chords convey emotion; they can make a song sound happy, sad, angry, or melancholic.
With the more advanced topics, you may feel you need to learn from something with a more personal touch. With that thought in mind, I created a complete video course for Guitar Exercises for Beginners. In this course, you'll travel with me step-by-step through the book's topics, making the best of those 10 minutes a day you’ll spend exercising.
Lastly, memorize the guitar fretboard and progress on to scales and chords
Have a look at your guitar's fretboard, what if I told you that you could memorize that entire thing Yes, the whole thing. Well, it’s possible.
I struggled for years to memorize the fretboard. That’s because I’d always been told that the only way to learn it was to stare at it for hours.
Even though I had my struggles with traditional techniques, there are scientifically-backed memory techniques and games to help yourself learn the fretboard in a way that actually works. What should the book cover?
Knowing the Fretboard
To reach the next level of guitar playing, you need to know your fretboard. Knowing which note goes where comes down to having a knowledge of scale patterns, chord shapes, arpeggios, and other musical structures. Pattern-based learning and memory techniques can make all of this as easy as ABC. Make sure the book you pick does this right.
Unlocking the Basics with Patterns and Shapes
Your fretboard is packed full of patterns and shapes which you need to memorize it. The book should teach you how to move from one octave to another quickly while playing your melody.
Example: Using the “L” technique, you can easily figure out where the next octave is by forming an L on your fretboard. Say you’re playing in A on the sixth string; to reach the next octave, all you need to do is travel two strings down to the fourth string and then two frets up that string. This creates an “L” pattern and gives you the next octave up.
Mnemonics to memorize guitar fretboard: A beginner guitarist's best friend
Mnemonics are a tool that far too few guitarists use but everyone can benefit from. A book having mnemonics can make it super simple for you to memorize your fret board.
This is a technique of memory learning that involves taking stories, phrases, and acronyms and using them to remember important pieces of information.
Example: If you want to remember the open notes of your guitar, keep this phrase in mind: Eddie Ate Dynamite, Good Bye Eddie.
Break the Scale Box and Play Freely!
After you memorize the guitar fretboard, you’ll be able to break through the constraints of the usual beginner scale boxes and play the way you truly want to play.
Knowing your fretboard does more than just make learning songs easier, it makes it possible for you to write your own music and improvise along to anything. The book you pick should take you to this point. Only then will you truly enjoy having learnt all the notes on guitar.
Knowing the fretboard like the back of your hand unlocks freedom that many guitarists will never get to experience.
Learning to play the guitar can be hard. It can be frustrating, time consuming, and it can drive you absolutely crazy. But, with the right help and proper guidance, it can be done in a fun and easy way.
That’s been a decade-long mission of mine, to make learning the guitar a quick and enjoyable experience for everyone that comes into contact with my books. Do your fingers a favor: Make life easier for them and try out a guitar handbook. It’ll change your life or at least make it a bit more musical.