Songbook vs JustinGuitar Tabs

Hello community,

I’m trying to learn a few songs as I get to the end of grade 1 here. I’m finding the videos Justin has on the site very helpful. Does anyone have any input on whether the beginner songbook or a Tabs subscription would be more helpful in learning these songs? Right now I’m just taking a few notes in a notebook and that kinda works too for the simple progressions I’m learning.



I don’t have the Tabs subscription so can’t comment on that.

I do however have all Justin’s songbooks and thoroughly recommend them. The songs are graded and along with the lyrics and chords, Justin gives suggested strumming patterns and all sorts of hints and tips to get the best out of the songs.

Although the first songs in the books are ‘easier’ they are songs you can come back to later on as your skills improve and you can add chord embellishments, sus chords etc and all that good stuff.

I’m not sure if all the books are still in print as I think Justin is trying to reduce the amount of hard copy he produces.

Andertons sell a lot of his books.

Just noticed you’re in the USA so that link won’t be much use to you.
Here’s another.


I think at this stage Justin’s songbooks will be more useful to you. Here’s the breakdown so you know my opinion on why:

  1. Justin’s beginner songbooks 1 & 2 - These will be most helpful to you now. Each has 100 songs, but a lot them are simplified versions of the original songs that you would add to and enhance as you get better and more experienced. All the content is designed to be playable in grades 1 & 2.
  2. Justin’s genre songbooks - These are the rock, acoustic, pop, etc. songbooks you can find on the product page. These would be the next step up. There are less songs (I think each has 50) but gives more detail on strumming patterns and much more tab so that the riffs sound close to or exactly like the original tracks. The songs are separated by sections: Beginner, Intermediate, Intermediate+, and finally full tab songs. I’d recommend these once you hit grade 2 consolidation+. That’s about the time you’d be ready to tackle the beginner section.
  3. JustinGuitar TABs - These are full tabs. Get this when you want to sound exactly like the record/play exactly what they are playing. Technically useful at any point but I’d recommend looking into full tab for songs only after grade 2. As a beginner I’d often look at full tablature and have no idea where to start. Justin has great video lessons and books on how to read rhythm notation that will help you in this regard but I honestly don’t think you should until you have a good guitar foundation. Grades 1 & 2 give you that.

At the stage you are now, tabs frustrated me more than helped me. Chord charts were much more helpful for the simpler songs I could play at that level. The songbooks mostly are comprised of chord charts with some tab sprinkled in. It should be noted too that the tabs subscription also includes chord charts as well. Which would be very helpful at where you are. You could technically subscribe to tabs and only use the chord charts for now while following Justin’s video guidance.


Thank you Alexis this is super helpful information. I’ll look into getting the beginner songbook :+1:

I have a couple of songbooks (beginner & rock) and JustinGuitar Tabs.

I find the tabs more useful tbh. I watch the video lesson to learn a song, then often use the chord sheet (not the actual tab, but in JG tabs) to play along. Although I print those out too.

The songbooks don’t show full chord sheets, eg second and onwards verses just have the words. For some reason this makes it harder for me.

However the songbooks are good for discovering what to play. I’d recommend trying both and seeing what works for you.


I started with the first song book and, to be honest, it just confused the heck out of me.
The chords are sprinkled all over the place and I can’t work out where the bars start and end or if some are only part bars with a change halfway or what. I have given up on it and use the song app and just have the song book as a reference for the words of the song.
Just what I found. Others may love it.
Just like playing guitar, everyone has a different experience.


I love the song books. Along with Justin’s video’s it’s what works for me. I did used to have a subscription for the app but I banged that on the head and went for the TABS subscription. Which is really good. You just cannot save anything from the TABS, so if you’re working on a song then you work on it from a device.

I just wish Justin would do more books.


Hi all,

I want to also give a hearty endorsement for Justin’s songbooks. If you live in the U.S. like I do, you can buy used copies off of Amazon quite easily or get a brand-spanking new one in most cases. So far, I’ve purchased Beginner’s Songbook 1 & 2 and the Pop Songbook. I really dig them. I find it most helpful to watch his videos for each of the songs to get the overall “big picture” and then use the songbook to review the chord progression. I also find his suggested strumming patterns quite useful. One final note, playing along with the original recording of the song, is not always easy when first starting out but it helps to “hear” where the chord changes too!


Thank you all for your input. I’m going to start with the beginner songbook in combination with the available videos. The songs I’m trying to learn right now are “Black” by Pearl Jam, “This year’s love” by David Gray, “Yellow Submarine” by The Beatles, “505” by Arctic Monkeys, and “3 Little Birds” by Bob Marley. I’d like to work up to “Wish you were here” by Pink Floyd. I feel like these give a nice variety of chords and strumming patterns and rhythms that I’ve come across in the beginners Grade 1 course.

I am using the beginners songbook and it’s very useful. Great compliment to the online course although the learning path online consists of grades while the books has stages. They don’t quite match but I don’t find it’s an issue.

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As someone who has the full set of Songbooks, which I bought as way to help support Justin, and a TAB subscription, which wasn’t an option when I bought the books, I’d suggest getting the books if they contain songs you want to play.

It’s hard to beat a good ring bound song book, that lays nicely open and flat (that’s why they’re ring bound!), so you can easily reference a song. No technology needed. Just somewhere to lay the book within eyesight range.

However the TAB subscription gives you a lot more songs, and usually gives two display options. The basic chord layout, which is very similar to what is in the songbooks, and a more advanced TAB (not every song has a full TAB, as some only have a condensed TAB - usually songs where there have been some copyright issues).

Provided there are songs you want to learn in the songbooks, I don’t think you can go wrong with either option.


I have used the subscription tabs from the begining. Sometimes they can be useful to work out strumming patterns and clarifying some issues from the videos. Although not always. They are however worth the cost to me.


So I ended up getting the songbook. It’s useful for matching up where the lyrics and chords work together. I feel like some of the lyrics are wrong in there maybe? As others have said - the videos Justin and others put together help develop a feel for easy strumming versions of the songs and then the book is a nice complement to learn the whole song. I might check out the tabs subscription at some point but I’ve got more than enough to keep me busy for now. Thanks to all who contributed to this discussion.