Music Theory Books - actual books - any recommendations?

Hi All, hope you’re well. I’ll be going on holiday for a week or so soon and won’t be taking the guitar with me on this occasion. I’m happy to have a break from playing here and there, as I think it helps to refuel my enthusiasm. However, I don’t want to detach completely, so I’d like to take the opportunity to read a bit of music theory if the kids give me half a chance. Can anyone recommend any good books? I’m about at level 4 on Justin’s Practical Music Theory course - so I’m not advanced, but not an absolute beginner either, I’m kind of ok at soaking up the abstract, theoretical side of things in my own time.

Thanks in advance for any recommendations, love to all.


Hey Rich,

Justins PMT pdf is your answer here. As you are subscribed to the course, you should have a copy, or can easily access it and print it out.
Enormous amout of info, about 45 pages of concise theory, plus some embedded worksheets to test you out.

Cheers, Shane

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It depends if you want an actual physical book in your hands.

Reading from a screen you could try some or all of these topics.


Thanks for the suggestions folks, very much appreciated. A screen won’t be quite so easy while I’m away, so I was thinking more along the lines of a paperback book (for easy portability) if anyone has any recommendations. I also have a long commute 3 days a week, so I’m always looking for ways to take my musical education on the train with me. Audiobooks can be good for this, but I find that if it is something I really need to soak up, they go a bit too fast for this brain.

Hi Rich @richfox14, I’ve been looking for a good MT book as well. I bought one I that had good reviews; it’s not really helpful because there is no obvious context or order to what is presented even though it’s a guitar-specific book. Like you, I subscribe to Justin’s Practical Music Theory (PMT) course, and I LOVE it. I’d agree with Shane @sclay that printing out the .pdfs associated with each Module might be your best bet.

Thanks Judi, I think I may look at printing out some of the PMT stuff. I think the reason I hadn’t come to this conclusion originally was that it tends to be much more useful to have the guitar handy when working on the PMT, which I won’t have while I’m away. There is probably enough content to get along with though, even without the guitar.

Cheers, Rich.

Are there any plans to collect these “series” into downloadable PDF documents (without the Q&A posts)? Some of those would pretty much be short books in their own right.

Ah - dreams of being a published music writer with an editor, a publishing house offering me the services of graphic artists etc and releasing my words to an appreciative worldwide audience allowing me to retire with a holiday home in the sun!!


Well, I had something a little more modest in mind to start out with :smiley: I just think PDFs would be a little easier to handle than logging in here and searching for the relevant posts.

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what??!? you aren’t living your retirement plan now? :smiley:
Screenshot 2024-05-16 at 6.08.41 AM


Just to warn you, there is a book called “Guitar Theory for Dummies”, but it is clearly not aimed at beginners. The first part is a refresher of Justin’s theory Grade 4 course. But, then it suddenly get really deep and you start missing Justin’s videos. ahaha ! I would not recommend it unless someone has finished Justin’s PMT and want some refresher.

That kind of theory content seems to be really dense in textbook.

Thanks for the tip, Mathieu. I did see that book when I was looking online, but in the end I decided not to buy a book as none of them really appealed to me that much. I decided to stick with Justin’s PMT workbooks for the short time I’ll be away from home. No need to look any further when I still have lots of content to explore there. It would be nice to have something in paperback for my commute, but it isn’t essential.

Cheers, Rich