Top Acoustic Guitar Books

Last week I compiled a list of my top 5 books for bass guitar. As promised here are my top 5 for acoustic guitar. I have tried to avoid niche players or styles but any list of this nature is going to be highly subjective but if you are trying to decide between two books or just looking for a new challenge and not knowing what to buy this may help.


1.     Registry of Guitar Tutors grades 1-8 – As previously mentioned I am a registered teacher with RGT. I find these books an excellent starting point that provides structure to lessons. The pieces are well written, this being a repertoire based syllabus and there is enough choice in the pieces at each grade to let any player play to their own strengths and play in a style they will find interesting.

2.     The Acoustic Bible by Eric Roche – Eric Roche’s reputation in the acoustic guitar community as a player and as a teacher is impressive. Somewhat of a pioneer in percussive playing, this is not the primary focus of the acoustic bible. (Instead see Thomas Leeb’s transcriptions of Eric’s arrangements). Instead, the acoustic bible is a balanced start at looking at the most important elements to all acoustic guitar players. This book is full of exercises that are worth studying by any player. I revisit this time and time again as a warm up and when I get a whole morning to focus on  technical aspects of playing.

3.     Fingerpicking  Guitar Bible by Hal Leonard – If you are just starting out this isn’t for you, but then there are so many books on the market that are really good for beginners (email me). I found myself wanting a challenge a few years ago and found this book interesting as it promised pieces by Andy McKee and Chet Atkins. The transcriptions are accurate and well laid out but the great thing here is the range of players and styles. The pieces are really well chosen, especially if you are looking for a challenge and a few have made it into my regular repertoire. When I buy books, I buy them for one or two pieces I commit to learning, knowing full well I’m unlikely to learn all of the pieces cover to cover but it’s surprising how often you hear a piece much later and find you already have a transcription of it.

4.     The Tradition/The Heritage by Stuart Ryan – I attended one of Stuart’s acoustic guitar workshops this year and found it full of little tricks and things that I hadn’t thought of before to include in my arrangements of traditional tunes. I really enjoy arranging and playing traditional Celtic and folk songs and before you can start arranging you really need a supply of good quality arrangements to study. I’ve had The Tradition for a few years now and have really enjoyed steadily working through. The Heritage builds on this nicely and both books make good use of altered tunings including DADGAD and a few more unusual tunings.

5.     Justin Guitar Beginner’s Songbook by Justin Sandercoe – Many will be familiar with via youtube. I think any acoustic guitar player needs atleast one good chord song book to practice chord changes, strumming patterns and most importantly because getting to play songs is the reason we picked up the guitar in the first place. We will all have opportunities to be an accompanist or sing to ourselves at the end of practice and not only are the song choices good here but there are specific bar lengths and suggested strum patterns included. Other books in the series are definitely worth checking out too 

Harrison MarshComment