10 Best Classical Guitar Books For Beginners In 2024

Written by Andre Roberts
Last updated

Are you learning to play classical guitar? Looking for some good books to help guide you through what you need to know and how to do it? Maybe you’re looking for exercises to help hone your technique or for some easy pieces to play in recitals.

Whatever you’re looking for, hopefully, we’ll be able to help as in this post, we’re going to take a look at what we think are the ten best classical guitar books for beginners currently on the market in 2024 to help you get started playing.

So whether you’re a complete beginner or you’re looking to improve your skills, these books will help get you started on the right track. Let’s get started!

If you’re a visual learner and prefer to learn by video, check out this amazing classical guitar course by Jason Vieaux.

1. The Christopher Parkening Guitar Method

The Christopher Parkening Guitar Method – Volume 1: Guitar Technique
  • Premier Method for Beginning Classical Guitarists
  • Learn to Play Over 50 Beautiful Classical Pieces
  • Includes 26 Exercises and 14 Duets

If you’re in a hurry, and since the classical guitar can be a challenging instrument to master, it’s nice to know that a recognized master of the classical guitar put out a method book. 

Parkening takes time in his book – The Christopher Parkening Guitar Method, to demonstrate all the must-know techniques for every budding classical guitar student, and he does so with plenty of photos.

After all, it’s one thing for someone to tell you how to position your hand, but it’s something entirely different if you can see it.

Throughout the book, Parkening offers real-world pieces of music for practicing a specific technique. At the back, he provides arrangements of familiar pieces (“Malaguena,” some Bach) written to incorporate the techniques taught in the book.

Essential reading material for every classical guitarist and a book that we have no hesitation in recommending.

2. Pumping Nylon by Scott Tennant

Pumping Nylon: The Classical Guitarist’s Technique Handbook, Book & Online Audio
  • By Scott Tennant Item: 00-44949 UPC: 038081510453 ISBN 10: 1470631385 ISBN 13: 9781470631383 Series: Pumping Nylon Series Category: Classical Guitar…
  • Scott Tennant’s encouraging style, sense of humor, and unique approach to technical training have garnered Pumping Nylon devotees throughout the world
  • At the heart of it all is the famous “Daily Warm-Up Routine,” which includes 11 clever, helpful exercises to get both hands in shape and ready to play…

In his book Pumping Nylon, Scott Tennant spends a little more time on the dos and don’ts of classical guitar playing, which can be good. After all, it’s harder to unlearn bad habits than learn the right ones in the first place. Still, new players may feel a little overwhelmed.

Once you get to actual playing technique and notated exercises, Tennant uses illustrations (as opposed to photographs) that clearly demonstrate visual concepts.

The book also touches on scales and some music theory, which is crucial to becoming a well-versed musician, no matter how cool people seem to think it is not to be able to read music. 

Speaking of scales, there’s information on some common problems players run into with some scales. It’s nice to have preventative measures in mind before encountering the problem yourself.

3. Hal Leonard Classical Guitar Method

Hal Leonard Classical Guitar Method (Tab Edition): A Beginner’s Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions
  • Classical Guitar – Hal Leonard Guitar Method Series (Book/Online Audio) Tab Edition
  • The Hal Leonard Classical Guitar Method is designed for anyone just learning to play classical guitar
  • This comprehensive and easy-to-use beginner’s guide by renowned classical guitarist and techer Paul Henry uses the music of the master composers to…

This solid method book from the Hal Leonard corporation covers much more than the names of the strings. It covers time signatures, slurs and other musical notation, and hand positions.

After covering posture and the anatomy of the instrument, this method book moves to arpeggio exercises that focus on one hand at a time, which can be very helpful.

Many people who have trouble playing the guitar get hung up on their hands having independent tasks. 

This book allows for isolated work before combining hands. Each section functions as a lesson and concludes with some nice yet playable arrangements for practice.

4. Solo Guitar Playing – Book 1

Solo Guitar Playing Volume 1
  • Book Only
  • Pages: 180
  • Instrumentation: Guitar

You’re probably best off using a methods book with a guitar teacher, but if you’re not doing that, this is an excellent book for self-teaching. 

There is A LOT of information in this method book, and such a volume could be daunting. But the book’s lessons lay out logically, guiding the student through progressively more complicated techniques necessary for playing the classical guitar. 

Emphasis on musicality, including phrasing, takes the book past a simple how-to book to a how-to-be-a-musician book. 

There are also specific exercises geared toward increasing finger strength, speed, and dexterity.

5. The Beatles for Classical Guitar

The Beatles for Classical Guitar
  • Solo Guitar
  • Pages: 80
  • Instrumentation: Guitar

Sometimes you want to play a real song that people actually know instead of etudes. That’s what this book of 31 Beatles songs arranged for Classical Guitar gives you.

But, note that this is not a method book. If you’ve never played classical guitar before, this book isn’t for you, as it won’t teach you how to play the instrument.

But once you know how to play it, you need repertoire, and this has some fun stuff in it, including many familiar Beatles hits. The nice thing about this book is that it’s got arrangements in varying degrees of difficulty too. There’s stuff you can play as a relative beginner and then some more difficult pieces for you to work towards.

If “Michelle” is above your pay grade, you can choose a different song done in a more achievable arrangement. As you improve, you’ll get back to “Michelle.”

6. The Classical Guitar Compendium

Like the last book, “The Classical Guitar Compendium” isn’t a method book. However, it would make a terrific companion piece and should have a place on the neophyte classical player’s music stand.

It’s filled with literature— both kinds. There are etudes and exercises written expressly for playing in practice, not for an audience. Then there are lovely arrangements of classical pieces of music.

You’ll find names like Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven, and of course, J.S. Bach. The pieces are attainable for a newer player but not so simplistic as to be boring, too easy, or insulting.

7. A Modern Approach to Classical Guitar

A Modern Approach to Classical Guitar: Book 1
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A Modern Approach to Classical Guitar: Book 1
  • Contemporary framework
  • Guitar chord frames and symbols
  • Beginning fingerboard technique

With plenty of information on musical notation, this method book helps the brand new musician navigate the newfound world of printed music.

As you’d expect in a method book, there are pages and pages of instruction on posture and playing techniques, most of which are illustrated with photos.

The book also spends some time on keys, explaining what makes a piece of music in a particular key as well as the attendant scales. 

Toward the end of the book, presumably reached as the student has improved his technique, we find music written by master composers.

These are a welcome relief from the tuneless exercises we sometimes have to muddle through when learning a new instrument.

8. Classical Guitar Technique

Classical Guitar Technique: Essential Exercises, Scales, and Arpeggios
  • Werner, Bradford (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 122 Pages – 12/10/2018 (Publication Date) – Independently published (Publisher)

Quickly learn the difference between rest and free stroke playing, and spend time training your left-hand pinky to do what it’s told (harder than you think).

This method book teaches technique on a string-by-string basis, which helps when you’re learning the names of the notes and their corresponding locations on the guitar.

As in any good method book, you’ll find illustrations of left- and right-hand techniques, discussions of posture, instruction about musical notation, and a slew of pieces to play as you learn more and more about the instrument.

9. 30 Easy Spanish Guitar Solos

30 Easy Spanish Guitar Solos
  • Book/Online Audio
  • Pages: 64
  • Instrumentation: Guitar

The good news is that this book contains guitar solos— pieces you’ve heard and probably wanted to learn to play on your classical guitar.

The bad news is that these arrangements have been simplified (or else they wouldn’t be “easy”).

Not everyone can play a Segovia piece like he did, so a simplified version can be a nice thing to have, but if you’re anxious to learn, say, “Salamanca,” you’ll learn it from this book, but need to learn it again if you want to play the original version of it.

This is not a bad book. Just believe the title— the pieces are relatively easy. If you’re a fast learner, you might outgrow it sooner than you meant to.

10. First Pieces for Classical Guitar

First Pieces for Classical Guitar: Master twenty beautiful classical guitar studies (Learn how to play classical guitar)
  • Thorpe, Rob (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 80 Pages – 02/05/2018 (Publication Date) – www.fundamental-changes.com (Publisher)

This book is almost a combination literature/method book. “Almost” because it doesn’t teach technique. It presents 20 arrangements of familiar guitar pieces written out in standard musical notation and in tablature. 

The draw here (for some) will be the ability to learn some classical guitar pieces without learning to read music. If that’s a goal, this book will help. But for learning to read music and for picking up technique, this is not the book you’re looking for.

Conclusion: Which One Should You Buy?

That’s it for our list of good classical guitar books, we hope you found it helpful in choosing which one to go for.

If you’re in a hurry and just want the best, while none of the methods books on this list are bad, we’d say go with Christopher Parkening Guitar book.

You’ll learn most of what you need to become a beginning classical player from all of them. But since Christopher Parkening is the reigning king of classical guitar, learning directly from him is a good idea.

The photo illustrations are first-rate, too – there’s little room for misinterpreting any instructions about how this or that technique works.

Suppose Parkening just isn’t your cup of tea. In that case, again, any of these books are quality materials, but “Solo Guitar Playing – Book 1” (#4 on the list) is a great one for picking up lots of ideas and instruction on musicality in addition to learning the instrument.

As far as the repertoire books go, the Beatles book is a lot of fun and could come in handy if you’re playing a solo gig somewhere. But if you’re after classic literature for the classical guitar, “The Classical Guitar Compendium” is outstanding. It contains all the staples of the classical guitar repertoire, so you can’t go wrong with that.

Many rep books have a bunch of Bach and a Spanish piece, and that’s all. This book contains music from several different periods and many different composers, so you’re sure to find something in there that you love playing.

The Christopher Parkening Guitar Method – Volume 1: Guitar Technique
  • Premier Method for Beginning Classical Guitarists
  • Learn to Play Over 50 Beautiful Classical Pieces
  • Includes 26 Exercises and 14 Duets