The best books to help you be great at guitar

Who am I?

I’ve been playing the guitar since I was ten years old. From then until now it has been my life’s focus, my friend and delight, my consolation, companion, and frustration. While I am reconciled to never being the world’s most famous guitarist, I still have a career, make a living, and, hopefully, contribute positively to the Universe. I have recorded albums of previously unheard music, performed throughout the world, and edited and published books for guitar. In spite of decades of study and practice, I find my enthusiasm undimmed and enjoy nothing more than sharing my expertise and guiding those less experienced to discover the delights of playing music.

I wrote...

Christmas Carols for Guitar: Graded Arrangements of 12 Favorite Christmas Songs for Acoustic, Fingerstyle and Classical Guitar

By Jamie Akers,

Book cover of Christmas Carols for Guitar: Graded Arrangements of 12 Favorite Christmas Songs for Acoustic, Fingerstyle and Classical Guitar

What is my book about?

This book will see you through your whole life as a guitarist. It will enable you to play the familiar songs everyone wants to hear at Christmas. The songs are presented in a variety of versions suitable for everyone, from complete beginners to the very advanced. There are chord symbols so you can accompany a singalong around the Christmas tree or advanced arrangements you could play in your Carnegie Hall debut. In addition, there are links to online material and video performances to assuage any musical doubts you might have.

The books I picked & why

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Guitar School

By Madame Sidney Pratten,

Book cover of Guitar School

Why this book?

Madame Sidney Pratten is a unique figure in the history of the guitar and sadly neglected by history. She was well known and well connected in her day and taught many notable members of Victorian London society to play guitar, including Princess Alexandra. Her real name was Catharina - in her public work she used her husband’s name, as was common at the time - and she published her Guitar School after many years of teaching, to great acclaim. It is the most informative, wise, and practical guitar book I know, full of useful information, beautiful music, and insight into the learning process.

This book is not currently available.

The Complete Blues & Ragtime Guitar Player

By Russ Shipton,

Book cover of The Complete Blues & Ragtime Guitar Player

Why this book?

When I started playing guitar, all I wanted to do was play the blues. Why a working-class Scottish boy would be so entranced by music so culturally and geographically remote is curious even to me but this book gave me a way in, a key to unlock the skills required to emulate the sounds of the blues greats I loved to hear. As an autodidact, clear explanations, technical advice, and background information were essential to my development and I still use this book with students to this day. 

Sea Shanties For Easy Guitar

By Ged Brockie,

Book cover of Sea Shanties For Easy Guitar

Why this book?

These timeless melodies, simple yet substantial, transcend time, culture, and locality, as demonstrated by the sudden wave of interest in sea shanties in the UK during the Covid pandemic lockdown. This book contains some of the best-known and loved tunes associated with the sea and the turbulent lives of those who make their living in its environs. Arranged in differing levels of difficulty, this book should amuse and delight anyone with a heart and an ear for a good tune.

Asturias: 55 Classical Masterpieces from 5 Centuries Guitar

By Martin Hegel (editor),

Book cover of Asturias: 55 Classical Masterpieces from 5 Centuries Guitar

Why this book?

Classical music is often seen as being unapproachable, demanding, and difficult, the domain of geniuses and prodigies not for ordinary mortals. This delightful book makes available some of the greatest guitar music ever written in a form that is accessible yet recognisable. It enables the intermediate-level guitarist to advance their abilities while playing pieces that will transfix any audience, impress friends and family and render great satisfaction to the performer. 

L'Esprit Manouche: A Comprehensive Study of Gypsy Jazz Guitar

By Romane, Derek Sebastian,

Book cover of L'Esprit Manouche: A Comprehensive Study of Gypsy Jazz Guitar

Why this book?

Do you want to play some of the most flashy, virtuosic, exciting, and emotionally charged guitar music around? Then this book is for you. When the great Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt fused American Jazz with the stylings of the French Musette Bal and his native Gypsy melodies, little did he know he had created a whole new musical genre. This book will teach you how to emulate and create within the Gypsy Jazz style which has evolved in the generations since Reinhardt’s early death in 1952. Prepare to be awed, humbled, and inspired.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in guitar, the blues, and rock music?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about guitar, the blues, and rock music.

Guitar Explore 24 books about guitar
The Blues Explore 28 books about the blues
Rock Music Explore 116 books about rock music

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Praxis System Guitar Compendium: Technique / Improvisation / Musicianship / Theory Volume 1, Hand Made, Hand Played The Art and Craft Of Contemporary Guitars, and Chord Chemistry if you like this list.