New Guitar Books

Hal Leonard has recently released some new versions of classic guitar books. Originally these would have been aimed at jazz players, but these days even moderately serious players need to know basics like the entire neck, a wide variety of chords in all positions, and songs, songs, songs.


Yes, there are all sorts of fake books floating around, but few are aimed specifically at guitarists. What recommends this collection is an excellent selection of jazz standards, many in “guitar-friendly keys”, sensible chord diagrams that minimize position shifts (and show you some very nice voicings), and a binding that lets the book lie flat on the music stand. I particularly like that several songs are in different keys that guitarists really need to know (Bb, Eb, Ab), and these have great chord voicings that should help any player feel more comfortable in these important tonalities. You can check out the list of songs here and see some sample pages here. Play the chord diagrams to the bottom two to see what I mean about positions. A great book for improving your sight-reading and a terrific one to take to a jazz jam.


A lot of the jazz greats wrote books to teach aspiring players, but many of these languish out of print. Hal Leonard did a good job of bringing back a true classic, Sal Salvador’s Single String Studies for Guitar in a new format. Most obvious is their catering to modern taste by adding TAB, and this has the added benefit of creating more white space on the page, which I find easier on the eyes. All aspects of picking, scales, chords, arpeggios, and much more is covered. This is a book that will make you work, but you will improve your playing immensely if you stick with it. The only problem with this edition seems to be a clash of fonts, so that numbers like “2nd, 3rd, 5th” are garbled (see p. 130, p. 145 and elsewhere) but can be read with some effort; also, for some reason the word “not” in the last line of p. 131’s text has delete lines through it, although it certainly belongs in the text (where he is saying to “keep the pick parallel to the strings, NOT slanted in either direction”.

These annoyances aside, this is a terrific book for improving knowledge of the guitar, and it is great to see it accessible again.


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