There are so many ways to learn the guitar today, but nothing beats sitting down with a great acoustic guitar book. However, with so many choices out there, it can be hard to find the exact book on acoustic guitar that you’re looking for, and that suits your goals.
Some acoustic guitar books cover music theory, fingering, technique, etc. Other books, like my new one on Amazon, focus on care & maintenance essentials, walk you through choosing a guitar, and give you the best resources for where to dive into technique and theory.
In the list below, I’ll reveal the best books for learning the acoustic guitar for beginners or experienced players alike. I’ll give you all the details of each book, so you know exactly what you’re getting into, and I’ll give you a link to where you can pick up the book ASAP on Amazon.
By the way, if you don’t have time to read a whole book, I use Audible all the time to learn while multi-tasking, and there are tons of great guitar books on there. You can grab a free trial of Audible here.
Now… Let’s get started!
1. Teach Yourself to Play Guitar: A Quick and Easy Introduction for Beginners
In Teach Yourself to Play Guitar, David Brewster has put together a great guide book that doesn’t require any upfront music theory knowledge. The book is mostly made up of tab, or tablature, a quick and easy notation style specific to the guitar, and very easy to learn.
The book covers a number of techniques, including: power chords, barre chords, open position scales and chords (major and minor), and single-note patterns and fills. Teach Yourself to Play Guitar also includes lesson examples and song excerpts in a variety of musical styles, like rock, folk, classical, country and more. This means it’s a great choice no matter your stylistic preference!
2. Hal Leonard Guitar Method – Complete Edition
The Hal Leonard Guitar Method is designed for anyone just starting out on either the acoustic or electric guitar. This super-convenient Complete Edition features the new and improved method books 1, 2 and 3 spiral-bound together, available as a book with three CDs.
Hal Leonard is one of the most famous names in guitar teaching books – and for good reason. The company has decades of experience publishing amazing books teaching new guitarists of all ages to fall in love with the instrument. The Hal Leonard Guitar Method is very comprehensive, and an incredible resource for teaching yourself guitar from a book.
3. Buying, Caring for, and Maintaining Your Acoustic Guitar – The Ultimate Guide
While the previous books focused on technique and music theory, this book is more concerned with helping you with all the other nitty gritty details of owning a guitar – stuff that took me a decade to learn on my own, since it is scattered randomly around the internet or rarely discussed at all.
In this book you’ll discover:
- how to choose a guitar
- (including what to look for in tonewoods, guitar body styles, how to get a good price, whether to buy used or new, etc)
- also includes a curated guide to the 10 best acoustic guitars for beginners
- how to choose guitar strings, and make them last 10x longer
- how to maintain your instrument for a lifetime
- caring for the fretboard
- should you use fretboard oil? how often?
- adjusting the truss rod
- traveling with your instrument safely
- how to store and display your guitar safely
- caring for the fretboard
- what to learn first on guitar (fingerpicking? flatpicking? etc)
- where to learn it… AKA how to teach yourself for FREE
- 30 secret hacks to unleash unstoppable guitar motivation, and stay in love with the instrument for the rest of your life
- much more
Read more about my Ultimate Buyer’s and Maintenance Guide.
4. Guitar Scales Handbook: A Step-By-Step, 100-Lesson Guide to Scales, Music Theory, and Fretboard Theory
If you’re looking to take a deep dive into music theory, scales, and understanding the fretboard, then the Guitar Scales Handbook is your best bet on this list. It covers a lot of theoretical ground in a way that is still fun, interesting, and understandable to guitar players of all levels.
Like the other books on this list, no music-reading ability is necessary. The new edition of the Guitar Scales Handbook has over 200 lessons, guitar licks, exercises, streaming videos, and scale-over chords concepts. Used by thousands of professional guitarists, students, and teachers, this handbook even includes a streaming video course to really take your guitar playing to a whole new level!
5. First 50 Songs You Should Play On Acoustic Guitar
I always felt that I learned some of the coolest things on the guitar by learning songs. To this day, it’s one of my favorite ways to practice and progress on the instrument. That’s why I think you can’t go wrong with Hal Leonard’s guide to the First 50 Songs You Should Play On Acoustic Guitar.
The First 50 Songs You Should Play On Acoustic Guitar provides a combo of tab, chords, and lyrics for the most popular songs beginning guitarists want to play on the acoustic guitar. Some of the best songs include: Against the Wind * Barely Breathing * Boulevard of Broken Dreams * Champagne Supernova * Crazy Little Thing Called Love * Every Rose Has Its Thorn * Fast Car * Free Fallin’ * Hey There Delilah * Ho Hey * I Won’t Give Up * Layla * Let Her Go * Mean * One * Ring of Fire * Signs * Stairway to Heaven * Trouble * Wagon Wheel * Wish You Were Here * Yellow * Yesterday * and more.
If you’re looking for a free alternative to this book, I wrote up a whole guide post on my own 50 favorite songs for beginner acoustic guitarists, complete with tabs and video lessons. You can check it out here!
Not a Book Learner? | Other Ways to Learn
Hey, books aren’t for everyone – and there are plenty of other ways to learn the acoustic guitar. If you prefer to learn through video, there are still a ton of great options! I recommend:
- Audiobooks! Audiobooks are great if you’re tight on time or prefer reading while doing other things (laundry, driving, dishes, yardwork, exercise, etc) I use Audible all the time to learn via audiobook. You can grab a free trial here.
- Subscribing to the official Acoustic World YouTube Channel… where I give away tons of killer information for free every week
Thanks for reading, and as always – happy picking!
Ready to Get Better at Guitar, Faster?
Whenever you’re ready to take your guitar playing to the next level, check out my favorite resources below:
Elixir Nanoweb Acoustic Guitar Strings
- Unique polymer coating allows strings to last for months or years at a time, making for an exceptional value.
- Provide the perfect mix of boom, range, twang, and brightness that acoustic music is known for.
- Beloved by everyone from Paul Simon to Gordon Lightfoot, the D-18 is one of Martin’s most legendary guitars ever.
- An excellent, premier quality acoustic guitar for bluegrass, country, folk, rock and more. This is what I play myself.
Chords, Tabs & Lessons for 100 Songs
- This free guide from Acoustic World gives you chords, tabs, and video lesson for the 100 best songs to learn on guitar.
- I spent hours putting this together all by myself to help you get better at guitar, faster!
Fingerpicking vs Flatpicking Guitar
- Learn which picking style is right for YOU by exploring examples, history, and popular players of each style.
- Discover essential techniques and pros and cons of each approach.