What are the best method books for classical guitar? The answer depends on what your goals are but we have a few ideas to help guide you through choosing one. The big danger in choosing a method book is that publishers have geared some books towards crossover students and other books to beginners or those who want to learn properly. Maybe the bigger danger is that guitar books move way too fast compared to methods from other instruments. So let's take a look at your options.
Why we like our method books. The first book is a free pdf and combines the best elements of many other books. Our books draw on the rich pedagogical tradition of classical guitar but the inclusion of some fingerstyle and chord accompaniment creates well-rounded students who have a wider knowledge of the guitar world. Also, many classical guitar methods move too quickly and result in the student forming bad habits even if they can play the material. Our books have tons of easy pieces so students can truly master every page in a progressive manner. The main reason students like our methods are the free Youtube videos for all the pieces and exercises which is a far better medium for explaining classical guitar technique and musical concepts compared to text. Plus YouTube is easier to use compared to some of the awful sign-in platforms companies use.
- Free YouTube video lessons for all the material with no annoying sign-in, this is better than reading text, the videos are a real discussion with demonstrations
- Affordable and available as PDF or Hardcopy
- Tons of easy material to help the student master each concept
- Updated often, plus you can ask us important questions via email or YouTube
- Our books form a step by step progressive study towards advanced playing
Our Top Rated Method Books
- Classical Guitar Method – Vol. 1, Video Lessons, 100 pages, Free PDF - Easy to use and well rounded with tons of video lessons and easy pieces to progress through. Perfect for kids and also for adults who want to learn pieces really well rather than struggle with the fast pace of some books.
- Classical Guitar Method Vol. 2, Video Lessons, 89 pages - Large focus on reading music in tonal keys with scales, chords, arpeggios, duets, solos, technique, and everything else you need. Our greatest book yet.
- Classical Guitar Technique – Essential Exercises, Scales, & Arpeggios – 122 pages, Video lessons - A huge book including Practice Routines, Tips, 100 Open String Exercises, 120 Giuliani Arpeggios, Selected Scales (Major, Minor, 3rds, 6ths, Octaves, 10ths), Slur Exercises, Shifts, Finger Independence, Alignment, Stretch, Barre, Tremolo, Common Harmonics, Speed and Relaxation, and more.
- 20 Favorite Exercises, TAB, Video lessons, great for crossovers. This book is a great refresher course and includes TAB so you can get to it right away.
- Ten Classical Etudes, Videos lessons - The etudes have been arranged in a progressive order from easy to difficult. The first and last etude emphasize the importance of using etudes to develop a musical technique. Tested with students and found to be very beneficial for learning musical and technical concepts.
Beginner Methods by Other Publishers (via Amazon Links)
- Shearer Series: Classic Guitar Technique, Vol 1 - An age old classic: solid and straight forward with lots of info text and exercises. Maybe a bit boring at times and I don't like the rest strokes he uses early on but this is still a great book for learning solid skills and reading.
- Also check out the updated methods Book 1 (Foundations), Book 2 (Development), Book 3 (Learning the Fingerboard), Book 4 (Harmony) - These represent a very thorough look at classical guitar, book four is even a harmony book which is good.
- Hal Leonard Method by Paul Henry - A great basic method, especially for adults that want clear explanations. Not a lot of actually music by composers but Henry's pieces are pedagogically solid and still enjoyable. This might move too quickly for some people but good for crossovers and enthusiastic practicers. Plus it's super affordable and available everywhere so why not pick up a copy.
- Solo Guitar Playing by Frederick Noad - Very good but very text heavy and bad pictures of playing at the start. That said, this is an excellent method with tons of duets and great repertoire and provides years of practice as it covers tons of ground, even to upper positions. Kind of a shame to have to stick with the same book for so long but the materials are good. If you don't have a teacher maybe skip this as most of the start is little duets.
- Charles Duncan Modern Method Books 1-3 - Decent books and pretty good for kids and some adults. I don't love the pieces and the progression of the book but students like this book and find it easy to use which says something. Bad pictures of positions again but that's not the end of the world. I wish there was more material in the book and the layout less blocky and big but, again, students seem to like it.
- Christopher Parkening Method (Vol. 1-2) - A very solid method with good musical materials and excellent diagrams and advice. If it wasn't so outdated I might consider this one of the best. It moves a little fast but is good for most students. He is a great player so you can trust his advice. I would get this and maybe use it as sight reading material.
Technique and Reading Methods from Other Publishers
- Pumping Nylon by Scott Tennant – Exercises & workouts, memorable, popular. Great for intermediate students who want a small book of easy to soak in exercises.
- Pumping Nylon in TAB by Scott Tennant – You tab junkie!
- The Bible of Classical Guitar Technique by Käppel – 245 pages of exercises and excellent text advice, photos, explanations, and tons of exercises. Maybe too much content? It's hard to use this book since it is so massive.
- Classical Guitar Technique (Part1) by Stanley Yates – Text heavy but lots of great info. Halfway between a method on how to play technique plus exercises. For those who want tons of info.
- Classical Guitar Technique (Part2) by Stanley Yates – as above but continued.
- Sight Reading for the Classical Guitar, Level I-III – Form, phrasing, dynamics, and reading skills. Starts super easy but there are no explanations so having a good teacher is highly recommended.
- Sight Reading for the Classical Guitar, Level IV-V – As above, next level.
- More Technique & Learning Books
- Scale Pattern Studies by Aaron Shearer – Very thorough, scales & sight reading. Slightly numbing.
- Slur, Ornament, & Reach Exercises by Shearer – Thorough set of exercises on topic.
- Kitharologus: The Path to Virtuosity – Difficult but very good. Not for the faint-hearted.
- Traversing the Fretboard by Sean Thrower [read my review]– Some good moments
- The Segovia Scales by Thrower [read my review]– You tab junkie!
- Giuliani’s complete studies and exercises – Studies but also his exercises and 120 arpeggios.
- Iznaola on Practicing: A Manual for Students – Small, concise, technical, how to practice well.
- The Techniques of Guitar Playing by Seth F. Josel & Ming Tsao – Modern and historical guitar techniques geared toward composers. For advanced students interested in contemporary music. Read my Full Review.
Best Historical Method Books for Classical Guitar