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. 

The books I picked & why

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Zen Guitar

By Philip Toshio Sudo,

Book cover of Zen Guitar

Why 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.


Music Reading for Guitar (The Complete Method)

By David Oakes,

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

Why 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.


Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer

By Trevor Pinch, Frank Trocco,

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

Why 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!


Starting at Zero: His Own Story

By Jimi Hendrix,

Book cover of Starting at Zero: His Own Story

Why 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!


I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie

By Pamela Des Barres,

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

Why 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.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in guitar, rock music, and music?

5,215 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 24 books about guitar
Rock Music Explore 116 books about rock music
Music Explore 68 books about music

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Beatles: An Illustrated Record, Asturias: 55 Classical Masterpieces from 5 Centuries Guitar, and Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years if you like this list.