The best books for rock guitar philosophers

Tobias Hurwitz Author Of The Total Rock Guitarist: A Fun and Comprehensive Overview of Rock Guitar Playing, Book & CD
By Tobias Hurwitz

Who am I?

I’ve been immersed in playing and teaching guitar and in rock culture all my life. Since graduating from The Guitar Institute of Technology in 1987, I’ve been a full-time guitar professional. So, I’m known in my hometown of Baltimore as the go to guy for rock guitar chores of all kinds. I play for companies like Johns Hopkins, Center Stage and The Baltimore Ravens. I taught Guitar at The Gilman School for thirteen years. I’ve played every venue from the biggest stadiums to the smallest clubs. My publications include fifteen guitar books internationally distributed by Alfred Publications and features in most major trade journals. Endorsements: Paul Reed Smith Guitars, Ernie Ball Strings and Fractal Audio.

I wrote...

The Total Rock Guitarist: A Fun and Comprehensive Overview of Rock Guitar Playing, Book & CD

By Tobias Hurwitz,

Book cover of The Total Rock Guitarist: A Fun and Comprehensive Overview of Rock Guitar Playing, Book & CD

What is my book about?

The Total Rock Guitarist is a complete method for beginning, intermediate, and advanced guitarists. Since it covers all levels, it is the ideal textbook for any rock guitar student, teacher, or classroom. The book is divided into categories such as Chords and Rhythm Guitar, Scales and Lead Guitar, Music Theory, and more. Each category begins with very easy examples and smoothly progresses from there to advanced.

Of course, there is plenty of explanatory text that teaches the reasoning behind the examples. Slide Guitar – Fingerpicking – Shredding -Blues -Funk, and more. It’s all in there. All examples are presented in tablature and standard notation. 

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Zen Guitar

By Philip Toshio Sudo,

Book cover of Zen Guitar

Why did I love this book?

This book hit me hard and fast. It validated what I previously thought were my private ideas. I’d never met the author, but it seemed to be written about me… for me… or was it written for and about the other 100k plus readers who must have felt the same? I don’t know. Maybe you’re next.

By Philip Toshio Sudo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Zen Guitar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Each of us carries a song inside us, the song that makes us human. ZEN GUITAR provides the key to unlocking this song - a series of life lessons presented through the metaphor of music. Philip Sudo offers his own experiences with music to enable us to rediscover the harmony in each of our lives and open ourselves to Zen awareness uniquely suited to the Western Mind. Through fifty-eight lessons that provide focus and a guide, the reader is led through to Zen awareness. This harmony is further illuminated through quotes from sources ranging from Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix…

Book cover of Music Reading for Guitar (The Complete Method)

Why did I love this book?

The Beatles didn’t know how to read music, and typically, rock musicians don’t read and write music. So therefore it’s a challenge to us, the people who learned to play around campfires, at the beach, and in the roadhouse, just cause we wanted to. Instead of merely presenting an increasingly difficult set of examples, Oaks teaches us how to think about reading music. He’s a great guy and it’s the best book of its kind I’ve come across.

By David Oakes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Music Reading for Guitar (The Complete Method) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

(Musicians Institute Press). Starting at the elementary level and progressing to advanced techniques, this comprehensive method is like a complete two-year guitar course in book form. It includes over 450 songs and examples, and covers: notes, rhythms, keys, positions, dynamics, syncopation, chord charts, duets, scale forms, phrasing, odd time, and much more. Designed from an MI core curriculum program.

Book cover of Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer

Why did I love this book?

We rock guitarists tend to think of ourselves as pretty darned special. I mean, wasn’t the introduction of the solid-body electric guitar synonymous with and indispensable to the formation of rock music itself? We get so cocky we forget that the invention and development of the analog synthesizer, which happened around the same time, brought its own dazzling array of brand-new sounds, never heard before. How were they created? Whose genius was behind it? How do they fit into the music of The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Edgar Winter, and The Grateful Dead? Did LSD have anything to do with it? Read the book and find out!

By Trevor Pinch, Frank Trocco,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Analog Days as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Though ubiquitous today, available as a single microchip and found in any electronic device requiring sound, the synthesizer when it first appeared was truly revolutionary. Something radically new--an extraordinary rarity in musical culture--it was an instrument that used a genuinely new source of sound: electronics. How this came to be--how an engineering student at Cornell and an avant-garde musician working out of a storefront in California set this revolution in motion--is the story told for the first time in Analog Days, a book that explores the invention of the synthesizer and its impact on popular culture.

The authors take us…

Book cover of Starting at Zero: His Own Story

Why did I love this book?

This is the coolest Hendrix book ever because it is all written by Jimi himself! Peter Neal has transcribed all know statements, letters, lyrics, interviews, audio clips or quotes into chronological order and makes it read like an autobiography. The lyrics and letters are included where they belong in the timeline. I learned more about Hendrix from this very personal account than from anything else. It’s a brilliant idea and a one of a kind read!

By Jimi Hendrix,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Starting at Zero as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It took just four years in the spotlight for Jimi Hendrix to become an international cultural icon. The sheer impact and originality of his music and his unique mastery of the guitar placed him for ever amongst musical giants. But what of the man behind the public image?

Modest and intensely private by nature, Jimi was shrouded in intrigue from the moment he first came into the public eye, and the mystery has only grown with time. Much has been written about him by experts, fans and critics, some of it true and some of it not. He did, however,…

Book cover of I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie

Why did I love this book?

To see the seedy underbelly, the proud head, and well… the entire body of the rock industry through the eyes of its key muse and groupie is quite a wild read! What did Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Jim Morrison, Robert Plant, Keith Moon, and so many more rockstars have in common? Who were the GTOs and The Plaster Castors? What’s it like to be Moon Unit Zappa’s nannie? You can’t pretend you don’t want to read this. There were many intelligent and fascinating thoughts throughout. It let me see things through a new lens.

By Pamela Des Barres,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked I'm with the Band as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pamela Des Barres was a regular on the Sunset Strip, where she knocked on rock stars' backstage doors and immersed herself in the drugs, danger, and ecstasy of the freewheeling 1960s. Over the next 10 years she had affairs with Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Keith Moon and Jim Morrison, among others. As a member of the GTO's, a girl group masterminded by Frank Zappa, she was in the thick of the most revolutionary renaissance in the history of modern popular music. Warm, witty, and sexy, this kiss-and-tell-all stands out as the perfect chronicle of one of rock 'n' roll's most…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in guitar, rock music, and music?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about guitar, rock music, and music.

Guitar Explore 32 books about guitar
Rock Music Explore 205 books about rock music
Music Explore 557 books about music