There are countless guitar books out there and some are better than others (For electric guitar see the Rockschool books and for acoustic guitar, see the RGT Acoustic Guitar books). The limitations of guitar tablature in gaining a feel for the timing over which the notes should be played on your guitar (even when the musical notation appears above the tab) can be overcome by actually being able to hear how each of the bars should be played. Guitar courses in books and CD form can be a really powerful method of learning to play guitar. Once newbie guitarists get over their fear of guitar tab, this method can produce excellent results, which is why guitar magazines (most of which come packed with guitar tab and also a CD (and sometimes even a DVD) or online access to digital audio files) now employ a similar method.
The Rockschool books come in a series of “grades” from “debut”, then Grades 1 to 8 – these books are often used by guitar tutors as the course materials for their lessons but can also be used for a more structured self-study course. Each book comes with a CD containing backing tracks with and without the guitar component, allowing you to play along. If you have an electric guitar, a Vox Amplug (available through Amazon and other musical instrument and equipment retailers) and an iPod or other mp3 player, you can play along easily using headphones, although if you’d prefer to play loud and proud, you’d better get youself a good sound system! You can gauge your progress by undertaking the Rockschool exams if you want – probably a worthwhile thing if teaching guitar is an ambition.
The Rockschool Training Course materials are available from musicroom.com (the links below should take you directly to the musicroom.com page for each book on a new page). This course is currently being produced as a DVD as well as book and CD – read more about the Rockshool DVD here.
The RGT Acoustic Guitar Playing series is another structured course produced by the Registry of Guitar Tutors and follows the guitar grades 1-8 as described for the Rockschool course above, but for acoustic guitar. The books are available from musicroom.com who have this to say about the course:
“This book is part of a series that forms an expertly structured and comprehensive method of studying acoustic guitar; it has been compiled by the Registry Of Guitar Tutors – the world’s leading authority on guitar education.”
Clicking on the images below will take you to the relevant musicroom.com page for that book.
Learn Songs to Strum Along To
If you simply want to have the chords to let you strum along with many popular songs, then the Big Guitar Chord Songbook range is perfect for you. These books which cover most musical genres including classic rock, acoustic, blues, country and even Britpop as well as musical decades from the fifties through the nineties, to present day. Each book contains as many as 80 songs complete with chord boxes and lyrics. There are no CDs with these books so it helps if you own the songs already to let you hear how they sounded originally and perhaps play along with them.
For the new to intermediate guitarists, this series will teach how chord progressions are used in real songs and will teach many more chords in addition to those of the CAGED system described in the Guitar Basics of Guitar Savvy. The downside is that readers will have to work out for themselves how the finger positions in the chord changes should be made; I actually consider this to be a good thing because it encourages you guitar newbies to work out these things for yourself, which can only improve your fretboard knowledge and increase your chord arsenal.