I just have 1 year of experience in guitar playing partly by self-taught, partly with a teacher, but we never used a book. Now i wish to have something more technical in order to have a more solid base. Which book can you suggest to me? maybe something classical? I like playing alternative rock, bluegrass and blues rock.

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You are the typical student these days. Partly self taught but searching for "structure". Many of my students are like that. It is tough to find the perfect book for a beginning non-beginner. I have a few recommendations and some advice.

  1. Keep taking lessons from an experienced guitarist.

  2. As for books, here are a few classic method books.

    a. Carcassi (the de-facto classic beginning classical guitar method, not necessarily the "best" but fairly complete and well organized).

    b. Mel Bay Modern Guitar Method Vols 1 - 7 (I learned from them and use them with new students. I've grown to appreciate them more an more. They are well organized and follow the Carcassi template but with a pick rather than finger style).

    c. William Levitt Guitar Method Vols 1 - 3. I like Mel Bay better for beginners but lean towards Levitt's advanced books for more advanced work.

    d. Mike Christianson Complete Jazz Guita Method. Even though the title calls out Jazz as a style the information in this book is very complete and would make a good text for anyone.

  3. As for advice...

Since you have some chops learning the foundation will feel like taking a step back so be prepared. You will never find a book that teaches to your current skill level. The first three books teach sight reading and technique together, which is pretty standard. The Carcassi book is strictly classical and (1) does not introduce music theory, (2) is heavy on technique, and (3) may not translate well to steel string guitar finger style. Bay and Levitt introduce music theory in small spinets as the lessons progress. Bay has more classic folk and classical songs arranged at various levels of complexity as exercise whereas Levitt has written his own solo and duet pieces that (in my opinion) are more sight reading exercises than musical recital pieces.

The first 3 or 4 Mel Bay books are very good, after that the lesson material is more complex pieces. A good mix is to work through Mel Bay 1-4 then switch to the advanced Levitt books. The basic foundations of the guitar are independent of style so any beginner book will work. After that you'll need to search for resources that are specific to the style you want to master. To this end you can check out any series by Mel Bay, Hal Lenard, Berkley School of Music, or MI (Musician Institute). All have large libraries of method books for various techniques and styles. Good luck!

  • Good advice. Even though OP mentions classical, I'm not certain that Carcassi would be ideal (but maybe) given interests in alternative, bluegrass, and blues. Mel Bay is great for beginners. Christiansen is a great recommendation that I hadn't thought of at first, but this seems like a very good book for someone who can read a little and play a little but needs to go deeper. – David Bowling Nov 1 '18 at 13:55
  • That is correct about Christiansen, I was reluctant to recommend. You kind of have to know how to read and play a little to get a lot out of that book. – ggcg Nov 1 '18 at 16:45

I'm a big fan of musical grades, but that is probably because of the regimented structure of your learning more than anything.

When I started out, I studied under the Rockschool examination board because that covered all sorts of musical styles (from metal to blues to funk to jazz) and gave me a good sense of progression and direction with my studying. I live in the UK and don't know how international Rockschool is though, but you should be able to find an equivalent in your country.

I also found my various guitar teachers invaluable in the first few years of learning - I had one teacher who played acoustic guitar in a Doctor Who-themed tribute band, one teacher who was primarily a jazz bassist, and one who used to be a huge Steve Vai enthusiast (to name a few). Getting experience playing with people from all walks of life really helps your playing in tremendous ways, even if you might not like the style of music they are most comfortable playing.

I personally struggle to stick with things if I don't have someone with me to motivate me to continue (unless I'm already good at whatever it is that I'm doing) so video tutorials didn't really do me much good growing up, but there are plenty of free online guitar courses for you to stick your teeth into - either as supplementary lessons to your formal tuition or as a replacement.

The main takeaway from this is that I believe that some kind of order is vital at this stage in your playing, whether that's from regular guitar lessons, studying for guitar exams, online/book tutorials, or any combination of the three. If you are serious about improving, I believe this would be the best way forward for you.


Why use a book? Youtube has changed the game. We now have more access to videos and different teachers than was ever available before. You can watch a video at x2 speed if the teacher bores you (which to me is the majority of the time).

You think when Mozart was a child he could just go to a computer and type "create EDM in FL Studio" and get all that information for free. That was unheard of. You are in an age where information is like water.

I remember just 10 years ago youtube in terms of music instruction was not even 1% of what it is today.


Classic music is the base of all other styles, I recommend to to start with it. From classic you will learn a complex structure of a song (prelude, intro, verse, chorus, bridge, etc) which are use in alternative rock, bluegrass and blues rock but in a simplify way. Moreover you will learn all the scales used in those styles. A book I used is Classic Guitar Technique, Vol 1: Book and CD: Aaron Shearer.


The Advancing Guitarist, by Mick Goodrick

  • 2
    Could you please expand your answer and add some words about this books content (e.g. teaching method, musical style, ...) and why you recommend it? – Arsak Oct 31 '18 at 19:34

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