10 Best Guitar Song Books

Guitar Song Books

Learning to play guitar is way more than just strumming a few strings and calling it a day. To really get to know your instrument, you’ll want to learn some famous guitar songs written by legendary guitarists. The best way to learn? Purchase some quality guitar song books loaded with your favorite songs!

In this article, I have curated a list of the best guitar song books for guitarists of all levels and styles. With the right songbook, your guitar journey is bound to strike the perfect chord. So, let’s dive right into the list!

1. Selections From Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time

Best overall guitar song book 

Sale
Selections from Rolling Stone Magazine's...
  • Songs include:
  • "Alison"
  • "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2"
  • "Back in Black"

Easily one of the best guitar song books, this is a compilation featuring 67 iconic songs from the rock era. These selections are chosen from Rolling Stone magazine’s prestigious list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

The book is designed for guitarists, providing easy guitar tablature (TAB) for both classic rock and modern rock songs. It offers a diverse collection spanning different eras and genres within the rock spectrum.

Featuring artists from Led Zeplin to AC/DC, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Black Sabbath, and The Ramones, the book covers a wide variety of genres and artistic expressions! 

Highlight songs

  • “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2” by Pink Floyd
  • “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson
  • “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen
  • “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath
  • “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC

What I loved

The book is a perfect choice if you are interested in playing rock guitar, especially classic rock. It provides detailed musical notation, encompassing chords, lyrics, some tabs, and standard sheet music for each song. The accuracy in key, tuning, and rhythm for all pieces is commendable.

Additionally, including brief backgrounds for each song, highlighting band information, chart rankings, and the year, adds an engaging element to the book. Each section includes chord diagrams, simplifying play, particularly when a bar chord is required instead of a simple one. The song choices are excellent!

What I didn’t love

However, despite being labeled as “easy,” the songs are better suited for intermediate or advanced levels. The smaller print size might pose challenges, requiring extra effort to decipher the notes, which can hinder the flow of playing. 

The TAB format, often limited to intros or solos rather than the entire song, could be a downside for those seeking comprehensive TABs.

Should you buy it?

In essence, this songbook is beneficial for learning famous classic rock tunes, offering complete sheet music for every song. Yet, the small font size might inconvenience players during practice.

While absolute beginners may struggle with this book, skilled players will love the Rolling Stone publication and will be blessed with hours upon hours of practice and play.

2. Simple Songs: The Easiest Easy Guitar Songbook Ever

Best beginner songbook

Sale
Simple Songs: The Easiest Easy Guitar...
  • Simple Songs - The Easiest Easy Guitar Songbook Ever
  • This collection features streamlined guitar arrangements, with a combo...
  • This collection features streamlined guitar arrangements, with a combo...
  • Hal Leonard Corp. (Author)

Simple Songs: The Easiest Easy Guitar Songbook Ever is a comprehensive collection offering streamlined guitar arrangements for around 50 famous songs. It combines tabs, chords, and lyrics designed to simplify playability. This is the best songbook for beginner guitarists, as it focuses on beginner techniques, and all of the songs in the book are simple and easy.

The chord diagrams accompanying each piece make it particularly accessible, aiding players, especially when bar chords are needed.

Highlight songs

  • “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers
  • “Otherside” by Red Hot Chilli Peppers
  • “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd
  • “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele
  • “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley
  • “Love Story” by Taylor Swift

What I loved

Simple Songs covers some of the greatest songs across pop, rock, country, and other genres. If you know basic chords and can understand chord diagrams, you will enjoy learning from this book since the songs covered are easy and fun to play!

What I didn’t love

One major downside I had with the book fell with the Kindle version, which had sizing issues. The music appears incredibly small, almost unreadable, and there’s no option to adjust the size. Even when trying to increase the font size, it only enlarges the titles and copyright details, leaving the music unchanged in size.

Another issue was that the book provides content for simple songs but won’t really teach you how to play them. The book claims to teach “simple” songs but has less emphasis on the strumming patterns, which you will have to pick up from YouTube or other sources. The book’s presentation could be complex for beginners.

Check out my list of the best beginner guitar books for some awesome books that will help you learn from scratch.

Should you buy it?

If you are an absolute beginner and want to learn some popular songs that you can play next to a bonfire, this book is the way to go! However, keep in mind that this isn’t a one-stop shop for learning guitar, and you’ll need some other resources to completely comprehend the presentation.

3. The Beatles Complete Chord Songbook

Best songbook for Beatles fans

Sale
The Beatles Complete Chord Songbook
  • Features 194 Songs from the Beatles
  • Specially Transcribed for Strumming Guitarists
  • Includes Chord Symbols and Lyrics
  • Playing Guide and a Full Discography

The Beatles are the holy grail of songwriting. In my opinion, this book is pop songwriting 101 on guitar. It consists of 194 songs written and sung by The Beatles. 

It’s specially transcribed for guitarists who prefer strumming, providing chords directly from the original recordings. The book features chord diagrams that aid in playing the songs accurately. I recommend this book for both musicologists and collectors due to its comprehensiveness and clarity in chord representations.

Highlight songs

  • “All you need is love”
  • “Eleanor Rigby”
  • “I want to hold your hand”
  • “Yesterday”
  • “Help!”

What I loved

I really liked the book’s practicality, its pocket-friendly size that fits easily in a guitar bag, making it a perfect thing to carry around with you. It is also amazing how accurate the chord diagrams are. This is a relatively beginner-friendly guitar song book as well, because the book is free from music notation or tablature, solely focusing on chords and strumming. 

Even if you don’t have a massive reservoir of chords in your bank, this book has you covered. Each song presents chord names and finger placements with neck positions visually depicted. At the top of every song page, chord images provide easy reference while playing or learning.

What I didn’t love

The book’s size is smaller than anticipated, measuring around 9 to 10 inches in height and approximately an inch thick.

While it asserts that all songs are in their original keys, there are discrepancies. For instance, referencing “Octopus Garden”, the chords differ from the actual recording, which can be confusing when playing along with the original recording.

Most songs span just one or two facing pages, which is convenient, but occasionally, a song stretches across three pages, making page-turning cumbersome. If the pages were of traditional music book dimensions, it would make for better handling.

Should you buy it?

If you’re a Beatles fanatic, or if you want to learn songwriting and are inspired by the Beatles, you must buy this book! It is simply the best Beatles guitar song book out there.

4. Advanced Celtic Fingerstyle Guitar

Best Celtic guitar song book

Advanced Celtic Fingerstyle Guitar:...
  • Kellie, Mr Daryl (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 76 Pages - 06/29/2020 (Publication Date) - www.fundamental-changes.com...

Celtic fingerstyle guitar is a specialized approach to playing the guitar that draws heavily from Celtic music traditions, particularly those of Ireland and Scotland. It involves using fingerpicking techniques to play melodies, harmonies, and rhythms simultaneously on the guitar without using a pick.

This style often incorporates open tunings like DADGAD, drop D, and others that resonate with the tonality and character of Celtic music. It emphasizes intricate ornamentation, such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, and various fingerpicking patterns, to evoke the distinct sounds and emotions associated with Celtic tunes.

The book, Advanced Celtic Fingerstyle Guitar, by Daryl Kellie (Author), Joseph Alexander (Author), and Tim Pettingale (Editor) presents 12 classic Celtic folk tunes reimagined for modern acoustic fingerstyle guitar by its skilled arranger and guitarist author. 

These arrangements, passed down through generations, offer a rich repertoire while incorporating groundbreaking fingerstyle techniques.

Highlight songs

  • “Skye Boat Song”
  • “Carrickfergus”
  • “Drowsy Maggie”
  • “Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?”
  • “The Rose of Tralee”

What I loved

The book’s strengths lie in its provision of timeless arrangements of culturally significant Celtic tunes, blending traditional melodies with contemporary fingerstyle techniques rooted in Celtic musical traditions.

This book will help you hone in guitar skills and expand your musical repertoire through diverse open tunings and advanced fingerstyle techniques. Furthermore, its comprehensive approach—featuring standard notation, TAB, studio-quality audio, and performance videos—offers a multifaceted learning experience.

What I didn’t love

This book is not very beginner-friendly. You must be familiar with fingerstyle techniques to completely comprehend this book.

Should you buy it?

It’s a great book if you want to get more skilled, go deeper into fingerstyle guitar playing, and learn to play more folksy melodies with your instrument. Fingerstyle playing helps you create more melodic and harmonically richer guitar compositions and tones. You should buy it if you want to learn advanced fingerstyle guitar from a traditional Celtic perspective!

5. Rolling Stone Guitar Classics: Early Rock to the Late ’60s: Easy Guitar Tab Edition

Best 1960s songbook 

Sale
Selections from Rolling Stone Magazine's...
  • Songs include:
  • "96 Tears"
  • "All Along the Watchtower"
  • "All I Have to Do Is Dream"

This book is a compilation of sixty-one paramount songs from the rock era, meticulously selected from Rolling Stone magazine’s revered “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” 

This anthology spans the musical landscape from 1954 through the late 1960s, offering comprehensive arrangements that capture every vital guitar element while maintaining an easily playable format.

Highlight songs

  • “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan
  • “Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones
  • “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix
  • “The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel
  • “Gimme Some Lovin'” by The Spencer Davis Group
  • “Both Sides, Now” by Joni Mitchell

What I loved

I loved that the book describes all the songs in its introduction. It is perfect if you not only want to learn to play the songs, but also learn a bit of their history. It gives a historical context and a brief story behind the songs so you can better connect with them and know exactly where they’re coming from!

Moreover, it provides comprehensive arrangements that make the songs accessible for all skill levels. Even absolute beginners will be able to learn these songs, with a bit of practice, of course!

What I didn’t love

All songs are written in sheet music, which may not translate to everyone, especially modern-day musicians who barely read sheet music. Additionally, some songs are not in the same key as the recorded songs, so you may need to transpose the chords to play along with the originals.

Should you buy it?

Rolling Stone Guitar Classics caters to both novice and experienced players seeking to master classic tunes while offering valuable insight into the evolution and significance of these iconic songs. 

You should buy it if you want to study the foundational pieces that shaped rock history!

6. First 50 Songs You Should Play on Acoustic Guitar

Best acoustic guitar song book

Sale
First 50 Songs You Should Play On...
  • First 50 Songs You Should Play On Acoustic Guitar
  • If you're new to the guitar, you are probably eager to learn some...
  • This book provides a combo of tab, chords, and lyrics for the most...
  • Includes: Against the Wind / Barely Breathing / Boulevard of Broken...

If you’re a beginner or intermediate acoustic guitarist and want to learn some new tunes, this is the perfect guitar song book for you. Covering 50 popular acoustic guitar songs, this book is great for those just getting started on their guitar journey. However, you need to have a good knowledge of some basic chords before picking up this book.

First 50 Songs You Should Play On Acoustic Guitar is published by Hal Leanord, a name that every musician likely knows!

Highlight songs

  • “About a Girl” by Nirvana
  • “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin
  • “Champagne Supernova” by Oasis
  • “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman
  • “Hey there Delilah” by Plain White T’s

What I loved

The book shows the key and structure of all the songs covered, with the lyrics alongside the chord charts. There’s no complicated sheet music, and the songs covered are quite fun to learn!

What I didn’t love

The title, “First 50…” led me to think that the book would be comprised of beginner to intermediate-level arrangements, yet it contains songs that lean well into intermediate and even advanced difficulty.

The book’s approach often begins with an introductory riff and basic strumming pattern but swiftly transitions into chords and lyrics after the first line, lacking detailed arrangements. So, if you buy this book, keep in mind that it is not the best option for absolute beginners.

Should you buy it?

I recommend this book for Intermediate guitarists. If this is your first month learning guitar, you may find the book a bit daunting. However, you can also see this as a challenge and learn the songs in the book, even if you’re a beginner.

Looking to buy your first acoustic guitar? Check out my top recommendations for budget acoustic guitars.

7. Easy Pop Melodies

Best pop guitar song book

Sale
Easy Pop Melodies: Correlates with Book...
  • Songs include:
  • All My Loving
  • Can You Feel the Love Tonight
  • Dust in the Wind

Easy Pop Melodies offers a collection of 20 popular and rock favorites tailored for beginners aiming to swiftly pick up, read, and enjoy playing music. 

Whether you’re starting your guitar journey or seeking additional material to complement the Hal Leonard Guitar Method or other introductory guitar tutorials, this guitar song book is a good choice.

Ordered by difficulty, each melody is presented in an easy-to-read format, complete with lyrics for reference and optional chords for accompaniment, which is particularly useful if you are receiving guidance from a teacher.

Highlight songs

  • “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” by Elton John
  • “My Heart Will Go On (Love Theme from ‘Titanic’)” by Celine Dion
  • “Let It Be” by The Beatles
  • “Hey There Delilah” by Plain White T’s
  • “Your Cheatin’ Heart” by Hank Williams

What I loved

This is definitely a beginner guitar book. Easy Pop Melodies offers a step-by-step increase in difficulty levels, so even if you are just picking up the guitar for the first time, this book will be accessible to you.

The arrangements are straightforward and equipped with clear notation, lyrics, and optional chords, simplifying the learning process. 

The songs in this guitar book are all super popular and fun to play, making it a great way to get started.

What I didn’t love

Certain songs in the book lack detailed information on intricate song structures, which might hinder your deeper understanding as you learn. Additionally, the book doesn’t extensively cover playing techniques or variations within songs, so you’ll need to supplement it with other learning materials.

Should you buy it?

This book caters to aspiring guitarists at the beginner level seeking a structured approach to learning popular songs. It’s suitable for you if you are eager to quickly grasp and play melodies with accompanying chords. 

Additionally, individuals who are already familiar with basic guitar fundamentals and are looking to expand their repertoire with well-known pop and rock tunes will enjoy this songbook.

That said, if you are a more advanced player and are seeking deep dives into intricate song structures or refined playing techniques, you might find this resource too elementary.

8. The Guitar 4-Chord Songbook G-C-D-Em: Melody/Lyrics/Chords

Best easy guitar song book

The Guitar 4-Chord Songbook G-C-D-Em:...
  • Melody/Lyrics/Chords
  • Pages: 114
  • Instrumentation: Guitar
  • Hal Leonard Corp. (Author)

The Guitar 4-Chord Songbook is a beginner book with a collection of 50 popular songs tailored for beginner guitarists. This book emphasizes simplicity, and as the title suggests, each song only has four chords!

Casual guitarists and those toying with learning the instrument will find this book to be accessible and easy to follow.

Highlight songs

  • “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day
  • “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train
  • “Let It Be” by The Beatles
  • “Smells like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana
  • “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King

What I loved

This songbook is a perfect entry point for beginners, gradually guiding them through chord progressions and key transitions with a collection of popular songs requiring only four chords each. I liked that each song was easy and laid out in a simple way.

Its straightforward arrangements, accompanied by song lyrics, make chord learning and strumming practice all the more easy.

What I didn’t love

To make some songs easier, the notations are transcribed, which can cause discrepancies in song keys due to transposition. This will make it difficult for you to play the song along with the original recording.

Also, much of the book uses musical notation instead of tablature, which may pose challenges for those accustomed to tab-based learning methods.

Should you buy it?

This book is a must-buy if you’re an aspiring guitarist eager to begin their musical journey with simplified arrangements of well-known songs using only a handful of chords. It’s particularly beneficial for those seeking a starting point to understand chord progressions and transitions.

However, if you desire accurate representations of original song keys or detailed guidance on strumming patterns and playing techniques, you might find this resource somewhat limited for their needs.

9. The JustinGuitar Easy Guitar Songbook

Best all-in-one guitar song book

Sale
The JustinGuitar Easy Guitar Songbook:...
  • Instrumentation: Guitar
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 05/01/2021 (Publication Date) - Hal Leonard (Publisher)

The JustinGuitar Easy Guitar Songbook offers a comprehensive compilation featuring a wide range of songs for aspiring guitarists. Organized across five modules, this book stands as a self-contained resource. However, you can also pair it with the Beginner’s Guitar Course by JustinGuitar for enhanced learning.

It encompasses an array of tracks spanning multiple genres and artists, including classics from The Beatles and Bob Marley to more contemporary hits by Foo Fighters and Pearl Jam, enabling learners to build a broad repertoire.

Highlight songs

  • “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” – Waylon Jennings
  • “Mustang Sally” by Wilson Pickett
  • “I Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash
  • “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley
  • “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles

What I loved

Something that sets this resource apart from other songbooks is that it can be used as a standalone learning tool. The book’s varied styles, covering classics and modern hits, offer learners a broad musical landscape.

It introduces essential skills through songs, providing a gradual learning curve. Additionally, it facilitates access to a supportive online community and encourages revisiting songs for skill development.

What I didn’t love

You may find the song selection lacking in more recent hits, with repetition from previous beginner books, making it less appealing for those seeking more contemporary tracks.

Additionally, you may encounter challenges with the book’s format size, chord progression layout, and the absence of music notes for singing alongside the songs.

Should you buy it?

Buy this book if you are looking for a songbook that you can also use to help teach you techniques. This book is beneficial for those familiar with JustinGuitar’s teaching style and seeking to expand their repertoire.

10. Campfire Songs – Strum Together

Best sing-a-long guitar song book

Sale
Campfire Songs - Strum Together
  • Melody/Lyrics/Chords
  • Pages: 148
  • Instrumentation: Banjo
  • Instrumentation: Guitar

Campfire Songs is a comprehensive collection of 70 songs suitable for ukulele and guitar enthusiasts. It even includes transcriptions for mandolin, banjo, and baritone ukulele! 

Organized to include chords on one side and music notation on the other, this book provides a user-friendly layout for easy referencing while playing. 

Highlight songs

  • “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan
  • “Hey Jude” by The Beatles
  • “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers
  • “Let It Be” by The Beatles
  • “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel

What I loved

This songbook is one of the few on this list that is good for all skill levels. It has a varied collection that accommodates any music taste and combines easy and moderately challenging songs. 

I also appreciated the chord diagrams for multiple instruments like the mandolin, ukulele, and guitar. 

What I didn’t love

Some of you may find the absence of complete lyrics for longer songs a downside. After all, if you are playing around a campfire, you probably want to sing along! 

Additionally, while the chord progressions are beginner-friendly, more experienced musicians seeking complex arrangements or specific strumming patterns might find this collection limiting.

Should you buy it?

This book is an ideal choice for beginner and intermediate players seeking a vast repertoire to practice and improve their guitar, ukulele, or mandolin skills. It’s suitable for those who prefer a straightforward layout with chords and music notation presented side by side.

What makes a guitar song book good?

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of guitar song books out there. So, when choosing the best guitar song book, it is important to know what to look for. Here are some of the key factors that I considered when curating this list.

Included Songs

Obviously, when buying a songbook, one of the most important things to pay attention to is the songs! So, when perusing for the best guitar song books, I looked at the type of songs included. Ideally, there should be a variety of genres, playing styles, and musical time periods included. Unless you are buying a guitar song book for a specific artist or genre, it is always good to mix things up to ensure you learn various skills.

Notations

The type of notation in the songbook is also crucial. Some songbooks will only come with tablature, while others may only come with musical notation, and some will come with both. Make sure to check this before buying your guitar song book.

Skill Level

If you are an advanced guitarist, it probably isn’t in your best interest to buy a beginner songbook and vice versa. In this list, I compiled books spanning across all skill levels.

Wrapping up

And there you have it, folks, the 10 best guitar song books on the market. Songbooks are a great way to learn and expand your guitar knowledge while also having fun!

If you learn better from video courses instead of books, check out my Guitar Tricks review, which will guide you through all the details about learning guitar online from Guitar Tricks. 

Last updated 2024-02-29 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API