What is the Best Guitar Chord Book?

Have you ever struggled with a music question to which you did not know the answer? I struggled with many questions before I realized that what I really needed was a guitar chord reference. This article describes several books and gives you the information you need to know before you choose the best guitar chord book for yourself. 

Our Top 5 Guitar Chord Books

How to Find the Best guitar Chord Book for you

Best Guitar Chord Book
A good guitar chord reference book is essential for beginners looking to expand their repertoire.

What You Need to Know Before You Buy a Guitar Chord Book

You might wonder how you go about finding the right guitar chord book. In this section, we will discuss some things you may want to consider before you make a final decision.

What is your level of proficiency?

Your skill level and your learning style will determine what you need from a guitar chord book. Are you a visual person who learns best if you are shown a photo or diagram of a concept? Perhaps you are a practical sort who learns best if someone gives you a couple of good examples. Auditory learners may benefit from hearing chords played because this helps them to associate chord shapes with their sounds.

Choosing a book that matches your learning style will speed up your learning and will make it more enjoyable to practice. This website provides an excellent overview of learning styles and may give you some insight into your personal learning preferences. And speaking of skill levels, here is a great website that shows you how to play with good technique.

What style of music do you enjoy playing?

Choose books that will help you to improve your skills in the style you enjoy most and that will allow you to build repertoire that you can use to practice or to perform.

Widening your repertoire in your favorite genre is the best way to keep playing for years to come.

This website provides all kinds of fun music-related quizzes that you can take, including a quiz on street performances and another quiz on what type of music you are. It may provide food for thought and help you to get in better touch with your musical style.

Do you experience roadblocks or have strengths that you want to work on?

Roadblocks are not always a bad thing and may even open the door to a new style of playing, a new choice of music or an additional skill.

Think about any areas that you really want to improve and also consider any strengths that you want to develop. Are you a good technical player but do not feel confident improvising? Perhaps practice in music reading will help you to gain the confidence you need to be able to play on the spot. This website provides some useful information about overcoming roadblocks as a beginner.

Choosing a book that provides audio clips along with the lessons may be a great way to figure out if what you are playing is actually correct. Over time, your confidence will grow as you continue to train your ear to recognize chords that your eye can already see.

I found this YouTube video of a guitarist who shares ten ideas for overcoming roadblocks in your music practice. You will probably enjoy his sense of humor and his ability to think creatively to turn obstacles into advantages.

How will you know if you have found the right book?

I stumbled upon my first guitar chord book almost by accident. As soon as I picked it up, I knew I had found what I needed. I found chords that I just had never learned to play and, as I continued to use the book, I found that filling in the gaps in my knowledge went a long way towards making me a more solid player.

When the book you choose begins to answer your burning questions about music, and your interest in playing and learning increases, it is a good sign that you have found a resource that will help you to become the type of player you want to be. That said, we now proceed to our review of what we think are the best guitar chord books on the market today.

The Best Guitar Chord Book Reviews

Guitar Chords is organized by key, which makes it very easy to locate any chord and to move between chords and keys. The book contains 360 chords with one chord on each page and beginners will love the fingering charts that are provided for each chord.

This book is a comprehensive reference for players at all skill levels. It provides the tools you need to learn chords and their corresponding keys and the inclusion of two fingering options is ideal for players who need flexibility. The relative lack of discussion about theory may limit its usefulness for guitarists who want to round out their skills in this area.

Pros

  • The spiral bound construction makes it easy to lay the book flat while you play.
  • Color-coded tabs at the page margins make it easy to locate chords and to move quickly between keys.
  • Chords are displayed in first and second position to provide greater flexibility and options for improvisation.

Cons

  • Guitar Chords contains basic information about technique and may not be the best choice if this is an area you want to work on more extensively.
  • This book provides very little information about theory and may not be ideal for players who want to acquire this type of background. 

Picture Chord Encyclopedia includes a total of 2,640 chords presented with chord illustrations and five variations. The book includes a discussion of chord theory, including inversions and voicing. Each chord is paired with a photo of a person playing that chord and a graphic that shows the chord as it appears on the frets.

This is an excellent guitar chord reference but its extensive presentation of chords that are not often played may detract from a more in-depth focus on commonly-used chords. For this reason, this book may not be the ideal choice for beginners who are looking to establish a basic repertoire and a solid foundation before moving on to more complex arrangements.

Pros

  •  Picture Chord Encyclopedia discusses chord construction and basic fingering principles, which may be useful if you want to delve further into theory and technique.
  • This book provides an extensive collection of chords that are not often seen and may be especially useful for guitarists whose music is outside the rock and folk genres.

Cons

  •  This book does not lay flat and may not be an ideal choice if you need to use it during practice sessions or performances.
  • The print in the earlier sections is very small and can be difficult to read.

Guitar: The First 100 Chords is a great resource for beginners and presents each chord with diagrams and easy-to-follow routines that are intended to build muscle memory for specific fingering patterns. Muscle memory becomes increasingly more important as you continue to play because it helps you to change chords quickly without creating a break in your playing.

At a slim 88 pages, this book manages to cover strumming techniques, chord construction and practice habits. While advanced players may not find much new information in this book, Guitar: The First 100 Chords is a good learning tool for beginners and can serve as a reference for intermediate and advanced players.

Pros

  •  Guitar: The First 100 Chords is organized in a way that helps you to rapidly increase basic repertoire while also improving your technique.
  • The author’s teaching style encourages you to become comfortable with the correct fingerings and helps you to work through chord progressions.
  • The live audio that accompanies the book is intended to train your ear for each chord.

Cons

  •  
  • This book may not be the best choice for more advanced players because it covers only the most basic chords.
  • The book may not be ideal for players who are looking to delve into less traditional music genres because it does not cover chords that are less often played.

The Chord Wheel is an excellent tool for players who are ready to take on the challenges of improvisation and transposition. For beginners, the circle of fifths that appears on the first page will likely be a useful reference for learning chord relationships. Later sections of the book delve into chord theory and explain how to transpose from one key to another.

The Chord Wheel is a concise reference that lets you form chords by using the Circle of Fifths. The book will probably be most useful to players who are already familiar with basic chords and who wish to develop their knowledge of progressions and chord relationships. This book should prove to be an invaluable resource for players who who want to learn transposition and composition.

Pros

  • Players who already have a good background in music theory may find this tool to be of benefit in transposing, arranging and composing.
  • The Chord Wheel is a good reference for beginners because it shows relationships among chords to make it easier to understand how music is made.
  • This book is a featherweight at only 12 pages and will be easy to take with you to gigs and practice sessions.
  • The book contains a Quick Start Guide that explains all the abbreviations and tells you how to use the wheel.

Cons

  • Some sections of The Chord Wheel contain minimal instructions that may be difficult for most beginners and many intermediate players to figure out.
  • This book may be best for players who already know basic chords since it does not provide instruction about basic chord construction.

Guitar Chords in Context contains high resolution diagrams of the most common guitar chords that you will encounter. The author uses triads to explain chord construction and makes it easy for you to visualize chord formation on the neck. Accompanying audio samples help you to place the chords in a musical context that will speed up your learning. 

Guitar Chords in Context provides a good explanation of chord theory and will be useful to players at all levels. The author of this book, however, does assume that you know basic chords and can do some note reading. You may want to take this into account if this is the book you think you may want to buy.

Pros

  • Guitar Chords in Context includes a discussion of basic chord theory, including inversions and progressions.
  • Your purchase of this book includes more than 110 audio examples that are free to download.
  • The book contains a discussion of chord construction and provides three variations for each chord.

Cons

  • Use of this book requires that you already know how to play basic chords and that you know the notes on the first three strings.
  • This book does not offer opportunities to build muscle memory and may be less useful for beginners who are attempting to build their level of comfort and confidence with the guitar. 

Final word – The Best Guitar Chord Book

We promised earlier to share our conclusion and, after reviewing the five books, we think that Guitar Chords: Easy-to-Use, Easy-to-Carry, One Chord on Every Page” by Jake Jackson is the best guitar chord book.

We like the fact that we can move very quickly between keys by just using the color-coded tabs on the page margin, which is great for improvisation or just for regular practice. This book fits easily into a gig bag and it lays flat, which makes it a great cheat sheet that you can look at while you play.

While the other books we reviewed also provide good coverage of guitar chords, none of them are as easy to use during actual music sessions. This is what sets Guitar Chords: Easy-to-Use, Easy-to-Carry apart from the others, earning our vote as the top pick.

What the best guitar chord book is for you depends largely on your learning style, your current skill level and the way in which you plan to play your instrument. It is our hope that this article has described some good resources that you can use to continue your development as a musician and to make your musical journey a continued source of joy and satisfaction.

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