While lead guitar playing often takes the spotlight, learning chords and rhythm guitar is a vital part of virtually every form of music that utilizes the instrument. Here, I will show you some of the best books for learning chords on the guitar that are perfect for beginners, as well as ones that have information beyond your basic chords that will be very useful for intermediate and advanced players too.
Table of Contents
If you’re looking for a simple reference book for guitar chords that’s under $20, look no further than The Guitarist’s Chord Book. Peter Vogl is an author who I highly recommend and his work is wonderful for anyone looking to increase their knowledge about various guitar topics.
This book is well-organized and gets to the point of what many guitarists of all skill levels want, which is an easy-to-read book that goes in order and has the most practical shapes you’ll use for your basic and advanced chords.
Of course, these are all accompanied by diagrams and photos to help you out!
The Ultimate Guitar Chord Book is another great book you can grab for under 20 bucks that has a lot of the same essential information as the previous one, but it does dive into some music theory and is useful for knowing how chords are built and why they have the qualities that they do.
For example, a lot of books will show you how your common chords are played, and while this is helpful for beginners, having an understanding of the theory behind chords, such as basic harmony, can open up more doors for you and lay the foundation for learning how more advanced chords work later on which will be crucial if you want to learn about jazz guitar.
So, if you’ve been playing for a while and want to learn more about the science behind building chords, this book is a great choice.
For being so small and so affordable (under $10!), there is a lot of information packed into this book that gives you all of the information you need to get your shapes and also have the opportunity to learn about chord theory.
What helps the Hal Leonard Pocket Guitar Chord Dictionary stand out, though, is that instead of just offering the most practical shapes for each chord, this chord book does give you variation and inversions of the same chord you’re looking at.
Not only does this change the chord voicings around so it sounds different, but they can also be easier to play and transition to, depending on the chord progression you’re working with.
The title of this book does exactly what it describes, and if you’re looking for a very accessible book for under $10, Guitar Chords for Beginners is one that is perfect for those who are looking for a no-frills reference book for chords in every key, this gets the job done.
Suppose you’re not quite ready to dive into any music theory yet, and you just want to learn the shapes. In that case, this book is mainly focused on giving you easy-to-read chord diagrams and showing you the optimal way to play the most common chords you’ll encounter as a beginner.
A lot of people don’t want to be overwhelmed with a ton of new information at once, so this is a great chord book for beginners who want to simply learn how to play the chords rather than understand the musical concepts that go into constructing chords.
In my opinion, Joseph Alexander is one of the best authors of music books. He writes in a clear and concise way yet provides plenty of detail for all of the info he’s able to provide to you in his publications. This is one of the reasons why this is one of the best guitar chord books for beginners, along with a lot of the other educational material he’s put out.
Like the other books, you can expect detailed diagrams, but it explores other topics that’ll be useful and even essential to you as a guitarist. You’ll be able to learn a little bit of theory, chord progressions, as well as rhythm. I also think that adding tablature to go with the diagrams is a very nice touch, along with the audio examples you can access.
For a book around $15, this is probably the best for your money if you’re new to learning guitar!
Other Excellent Guitar Chord Resources
Although these chord books for guitar do a fantastic job of presenting their information, it helps to have some other resources handy. Luckily, I have some articles related to this topic that can help you along the way.
Since all of these have diagrams, it can be tricky to understand what you’re looking at first, so I have written a guide to reading chords on charts, tabs, and in standard notation, which are all different ways you can read chords in front of you and play them on the guitar.
Secondly, triads are the most common types of chords you’ll use in your entire guitar career – these are your major, minor, diminished, and augmented chords that can fit in your chord progressions. I have written an in-depth article on how these essential triad chords are created, which you can enjoy here as another free resource.
Finally, if you’re going to take the time to learn about any music theory, it’s a good idea to explore the other aspects of it, too, not just the theory behind chords. You’ll also want to learn about scales and intervals, as these are all relevant to how chords are made. Having some knowledge of the fundamentals of music theory will help you understand how you can write better melodies and perfect basslines that fit seamlessly over your chords along with learning about chord progressions so you can lay the groundwork for your next song.
To learn more about music theory that’s presented in a way that’s not scary and written for guitarists, be sure to check out my guide to the best music theory books for guitar. You’ll find some authors there that I’ve talked about in this article, such as Peter Vogl and Joseph Alexander, and therefore, you could pick up these books for pretty cheap and have them supplement each other and take your understanding of the guitar to the next level.
The best chord books for guitar should be simple and easy to understand for any player, regardless if they’re a beginner or they’re more experienced or if they prefer to play acoustic or electric guitar, and that accessibility is precisely what these provide. However, while they offer a lot of the same information, they bring other features to the table that might make it more appealing to certain skill levels.
To give you a quick recap of the guitar chord books you should check out, these are the ones that I suggested:
- The Guitarist’s Chord Book by Peter Vogl
- The Ultimate Guitar Chord Book by Karl Golden
- Hal Leonard Pocket Guitar Chord Dictionary by Andrew Dubrock
- Guitar Chords for Beginners By Gareth Evans
- The First 100 Chords For Guitar by Joseph Alexander
You can’t really go wrong with having at least one of these nearby if you’re trying to learn something new or need a reminder on how a specific chord is played. Overall, they’re a small investment for what they can do to advance your guitar playing.