The best guitar books

4 authors have picked their favorite books about guitar and why they recommend each book.

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Guitar School

By Madame Sidney Pratten,

Book cover of Guitar School

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.


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 Complete Blues & Ragtime Guitar Player

By Russ Shipton,

Book cover of The Complete Blues & Ragtime Guitar Player

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. 


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.

Asturias

By Martin Hegel (editor),

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

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. 


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.

Music Reading for Guitar (The Complete Method)

By David Oakes,

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

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.


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. 

Clapton's Guitar

By Allen St John,

Book cover of Clapton's Guitar: Watching Wayne Henderson Build the Perfect Instrument

This book has almost nothing to do with Eric Clapton. Rather, it’s an engaging story about Wayne Henderson, a retired mailman who makes some of the most desired acoustic guitars anywhere. He prefers to build for people he thinks need one of his guitars. It’s impossible to read this book and not want to make a guitar. I turn to it for inspiration when one of my guitars isn’t going well and I need to remember where I’m trying to go.


Who am I?

I’ve been making guitars for about 30 years now and love it. I’m mostly self-taught and there were some pretty rough instruments early on, but I got better with every one. I’ve lost track of how many I’ve made and my favorite is always the next one. I learned my craft from people who took the time to write about it. I’ve now written dozens of articles and three books on guitars. As a professor, I run a guitar-making lab and teach classes on stringed instrument design and manufacture. I hope to do my part to help new builders the way others have helped me.


I wrote...

Acoustic Guitar Design

By Richard Mark French,

Book cover of Acoustic Guitar Design

What is my book about?

This book is for guitar designers, builders wishing to improve their designs, and guitar fans who just want to know more about their instruments. It’s heavily illustrated and doesn’t require any technical background. The book begins with the history of how the acoustic guitar evolved over centuries and leads up to a chapter focusing on three iconic instruments that represent the most important types of acoustic guitars: classical, steel-string flat top, and archtop. Later chapters focus on the specifics of guitars that are hard to find anywhere else. The book also features sidebar contributions by top guitar designers and builders including Tim Shaw, Chief Engineer - Guitars at Fender Music; and Andy Powers, Master Guitar Designer and Partner at Taylor Guitars.

Hand Made, Hand Played The Art and Craft Of Contemporary Guitars

By Robert Shaw,

Book cover of Hand Made, Hand Played The Art and Craft Of Contemporary Guitars

We’re probably in a golden age of guitar making. The internet has made information on how to make guitars, once rare indeed, free to anyone who wants to learn. New builders need to see what the very top luthiers (makers of stringed instruments) are building. This book is full of beautiful pictures – more pictures than words – that show the highest levels of design and construction. When I want to dream about how my next guitar might look, I go here.


Who am I?

I’ve been making guitars for about 30 years now and love it. I’m mostly self-taught and there were some pretty rough instruments early on, but I got better with every one. I’ve lost track of how many I’ve made and my favorite is always the next one. I learned my craft from people who took the time to write about it. I’ve now written dozens of articles and three books on guitars. As a professor, I run a guitar-making lab and teach classes on stringed instrument design and manufacture. I hope to do my part to help new builders the way others have helped me.


I wrote...

Acoustic Guitar Design

By Richard Mark French,

Book cover of Acoustic Guitar Design

What is my book about?

This book is for guitar designers, builders wishing to improve their designs, and guitar fans who just want to know more about their instruments. It’s heavily illustrated and doesn’t require any technical background. The book begins with the history of how the acoustic guitar evolved over centuries and leads up to a chapter focusing on three iconic instruments that represent the most important types of acoustic guitars: classical, steel-string flat top, and archtop. Later chapters focus on the specifics of guitars that are hard to find anywhere else. The book also features sidebar contributions by top guitar designers and builders including Tim Shaw, Chief Engineer - Guitars at Fender Music; and Andy Powers, Master Guitar Designer and Partner at Taylor Guitars.

Contemporary Acoustic Guitar Design and Build

By Trevor Gore, Gerard Gilet,

Book cover of Contemporary Acoustic Guitar Design and Build

This is very nice a two-volume set, written by Trevor Gore, an accomplished guitar maker with an extensive technical background, and Gerard Gilet, a builder of fine acoustic guitars. This is required reading for people who are interested both in how to make guitars and how they work.


Who am I?

I’ve been making guitars for about 30 years now and love it. I’m mostly self-taught and there were some pretty rough instruments early on, but I got better with every one. I’ve lost track of how many I’ve made and my favorite is always the next one. I learned my craft from people who took the time to write about it. I’ve now written dozens of articles and three books on guitars. As a professor, I run a guitar-making lab and teach classes on stringed instrument design and manufacture. I hope to do my part to help new builders the way others have helped me.


I wrote...

Acoustic Guitar Design

By Richard Mark French,

Book cover of Acoustic Guitar Design

What is my book about?

This book is for guitar designers, builders wishing to improve their designs, and guitar fans who just want to know more about their instruments. It’s heavily illustrated and doesn’t require any technical background. The book begins with the history of how the acoustic guitar evolved over centuries and leads up to a chapter focusing on three iconic instruments that represent the most important types of acoustic guitars: classical, steel-string flat top, and archtop. Later chapters focus on the specifics of guitars that are hard to find anywhere else. The book also features sidebar contributions by top guitar designers and builders including Tim Shaw, Chief Engineer - Guitars at Fender Music; and Andy Powers, Master Guitar Designer and Partner at Taylor Guitars.

Classical Guitar Making

By John S. Bogdanovich,

Book cover of Classical Guitar Making: A Modern Approach to Traditional Design

This is a beautiful book written by a master, who wants to inspire others to make classical guitars. These nylon string guitars look outwardly like other acoustic guitars. However, they are for a different kind of music and are made differently. Bogdanovich does a great job in leading a new builder through each step. I refer to this book a lot.  It’s so nicely produced that I find myself just browsing through it, even when I’m not actually working on a classical guitar.


Who am I?

I’ve been making guitars for about 30 years now and love it. I’m mostly self-taught and there were some pretty rough instruments early on, but I got better with every one. I’ve lost track of how many I’ve made and my favorite is always the next one. I learned my craft from people who took the time to write about it. I’ve now written dozens of articles and three books on guitars. As a professor, I run a guitar-making lab and teach classes on stringed instrument design and manufacture. I hope to do my part to help new builders the way others have helped me.


I wrote...

Acoustic Guitar Design

By Richard Mark French,

Book cover of Acoustic Guitar Design

What is my book about?

This book is for guitar designers, builders wishing to improve their designs, and guitar fans who just want to know more about their instruments. It’s heavily illustrated and doesn’t require any technical background. The book begins with the history of how the acoustic guitar evolved over centuries and leads up to a chapter focusing on three iconic instruments that represent the most important types of acoustic guitars: classical, steel-string flat top, and archtop. Later chapters focus on the specifics of guitars that are hard to find anywhere else. The book also features sidebar contributions by top guitar designers and builders including Tim Shaw, Chief Engineer - Guitars at Fender Music; and Andy Powers, Master Guitar Designer and Partner at Taylor Guitars.

Guitarmaking

By William Cumpiano, Jonathan D. Solomon,

Book cover of Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology: A Complete Reference for the Design & Construction of the Steel-String Folk Guitar & the Classical Guitar

Making a guitar is something many woodworkers aspire to, but are often stymied by what seems to be the daunting nature of the work. Actually, it’s fairly simple; something the average woodworker can easily do. All you need is the right advice. This is the best comprehensive book on guitar making you can find. It will give you straightforward information, step by step, to help you successfully build your own guitar.


Who am I?

Michael Dresdner is a nationally known finishing and woodworking expert and guitar maker/designer, author of five books and several videos on wood finishing and guitar making. He’s been a Contributing Editor to Fine Woodworking Magazine, American Woodworker Magazine, and Woodworker’s Journal, wrote the Just Finishing byline column for American Woodworker Magazine for over 7 years, and the Finishing Thoughts byline column for Woodworker’s Journal for almost 20 years. While a consultant to one of the country’s largest coatings conglomerates, he wrote answers to over 8,000 questions for the www.woodanswers.com website blog and edited the Woodworker’s Journal eZine, an award-winning online woodworking magazine with over a quarter of a million subscribers.


I wrote...

The New Wood Finishing Book

By Michael Dresdner,

Book cover of The New Wood Finishing Book

What is my book about?

The New Wood Finishing Book is a comprehensive textbook on everything you need to know about wood finishing. From choosing the right finish (and the right finishing tools), through sanding, sealing, application, coloring, repair and refinishing, and right on to final rub out, this is the complete course you need to become a better finisher. 

Sea Shanties For Easy Guitar

By Ged Brockie,

Book cover of Sea Shanties For Easy Guitar

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.


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.

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