Big Ideas

Big Idea : Buy Guitar Books

Here’s a BIG idea that could have saved me a few years of doing things the hard way: BUY just about any and all guitar books you can afford.

When I was starting out, I have to admit I had a pretty cheap when it came to investing in my musical development. I didn’t have a lot of disposable income to begin with, and the musicians I looked up to (whether they were terribly impoverished blues players or punk rockers) seemed to be able to do amazing things with even less material resources. So I figured that was the best (and perhaps only) way to go. For many years I had a few cheap and/or poorly maintained guitars and amps. I used the same gauge and cheap brand of strings I’d used since I was a beginner (more on these terrible mistakes in future posts).

During this time I also purchased virtually no books. I think I used to view them as frivolous expenses. Nowadays I consider a great many guitar books to be essential tools of the trade. Not just for guitar teachers, but for anyone who is serious about developing into a proficient musician. It’s funny that the first few books I did buy, were enormously helpful to me. And still I would browse the book section at my local music story and ponder over whether I should spent $12.00 on a book. My attitude today: JUST BUY IT DUDE!

I have recommended a few titles in this blog and I plan to recommend more in the future. Developing a small guitar library is basically a byproduct of becoming a decent musician. If you aren’t accumulating books on the subject, chances are you’re development isn’t anywhere near what it could be.

Most of the leading guitar method books are in the $20 range and that’s a ridiculous bargain considering how many amazing benefits flow for years out of a single book. How do you chose the right book? You don’t. You buy them all. I’m serious. If you really want to play guitar professionally, there are at least 20 books that will be absolutely essential reads. Here’s a few that really influenced my development which I constantly go back to with students:

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– “A Modern Method For Guitar” Series by William Levitt. Volumes 1, 2 and 3
– “Solo Guitar Playing” Series by Frederick M Noad. Volumes 1 and 2
– “A Modern Approach to Classical Guitar” Series by Charles Duncan
– “Guitar Grimoire” Series by Carl Fischer
– “Classic Guitar Technique” by Aaron Shearer

A good guitar teacher can help you zero in on which book is right for you based on your current of ability and your stylistic goals. But don’t worry about buying the “wrong” book. Several times in the past I have purchased books that turned out to not be immediately helpful to me. Most of these were either too advanced for me at the time. But I just put them on my shelf of guitar books and one-by-one they started to come to life as my playing and musical literacy improved.

I’ve been thinking about adding some book guitar reviews to this blog to share what I like about my favorite guitar books. Also maybe to include some tips on how I incorporate guitar books into my lessons and my own practice time. In the meantime, I encourage you to start building your musical library TODAY. Once you start, you’ll be glad you did.