What is the best music theory book for a beginner?

Hello there!

I am going to buy a music theory book, but I don’t know which one is highly recommend for a beginner like me. Any recommendation would be great :pray:t4::pray:t4::pray:t4:


Have you tried Justins Pratical Muisc theory lessons?Highly recommend to supplement your learning. The first two grades are ideal for the begineer.

Pratical Music Theory

The first lessons are free and afterwards, there is a small fee to pay.


I second the motion “Practical Music Theory” on Justin Guitar.
Justin has designed it for guitar. Most theory books is written for piano.

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+1 for Justin’s PMT course. It’s really digestible and as you can see from the course structure, it starts at the very beginning of theory.

I’ve also been looking for books on theory and my impressions on the range available in Hungarian stores so far are the following:

  • Several books written for children and the first few grades of music schools. These are indeed the foundations but probably not ideal for adults and solitary learners. There are versions aimed at students of woodwinds (recorder, flute, etc.), piano, guitar, and other more common instruments given to children.
  • Indeed a lot of books, especially ones for solfege, are designed for singing and/or piano. The theory can be useful, but they are often more effective if you are in a class and have access to a piano, though if you read notation, you might try to play them on guitar. That’s one thing I’m planning to do.
    Harmonic studies on various composers/works - these can be quite hardcore if you are just taking the first steps in theory land.

However, I found some (older) instruction books designed for the guitar. They are somewhat less didactic than Justin’s course and have ample amount of standard notation; in fact, one of their aims is to teach sight reading, so they start with easy exercises. I bought a pair of these last weekend along with a few pieces of guitar sheet music. I’m pretty excited about them.

Such books might be available in your local bookstores/music stores as well, and there are plenty of them on the internet. If you are keen to find a book, you may want to ask for some recommendations from the assistants at such stores.

Also, this book is a goldmine and starts right from the C major scale and the “proper” fingering for it and goes to quite high levels. One of its aims is to teach sight reading but starts with easy exercises.

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Which version of the C major scale does it provide the “proper” Fingering?

On the guitar there are 5 Patterns in CAGED, 7 patterns in 3NPS of the C major Scale.
And you can mix and match between them.
I be interested in seeing which C Major Scale the book thinks is the proper one.

Nah, my wording wasn’t right. I meant the scale in the open position, it’s written the same way Justin teaches here.

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Thank you so much guys! I haven’t checked Justin’s PMT yet. For sure, I will take that one. :pray:t4:

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If you actually do want a book I found the “No Bull Music Theory for Guitarists volume 1” was quite good and explains things well. I have grade 6 classical theory and teach piano but I wanted something guitar specific as you end up learning some rather different things.


Yep I’ll add my vote for Justin’s PMT.

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I did several music theory courses on Coursera (all were free). Some guitar specific from Berklee school of music, and then the fantastic ones on musicianship (great teacher) and some general theory courses (U of Edinburh). The combination of videos and exercises worked well for me (not only reading). Having a piano handy was helpful.

+1 for this

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Hi Gerrylene…
I think it is more than clear that you absolutely must have Justin’s course…I Quote a piece from wikipedia…
Sandercoe was named as one of the UK’s Top 10 YouTube Celebrities on The Telegraph Newspaper[4] and The Independent newspaper called him “one of the most influential guitar teachers in history”[3] and he has received accolades from many notable guitarists, including Steve Vai, Mark Knopfler, Brian May,[5] Richard Bennett, and Martin Taylor, among others.

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Justin’s PMT gets another +1 from me why ?

Well its nothing like a book on theory where its up to you how to apply the knowledge. It is hands on theory with everything being applied there and then on the guitar. And it is written specifically for guitar for guitarists by, you guessed it, a guitarist,

You not only get the written theory but the demonstration videos show how that knowledge can be put to use. Its the Practical aspect that for me makes all the difference for me, rather than just another book on theory.

I should add that I am just starting Level 5.

A worthy investment and the life subscription is a no brainer.



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Hi there. Some years ago I used to play keyboard. I did theory at the same time and was steered towards ‘The AB Guide to Music Theory’ by Eric Taylor. Publisher was The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (Publishing) Limited and they cost about £6 at the time though I guess will be much more now. I got books Part I and Part II which, I think, goes up to Grade 4 theory exam (but check that). The books are not guitar related they are pure music theory. They start very simple and build up from that Chapter by Chapter. In fact I have just started to re-read them (as well as subscribing to Justin’s theory course). To be honest I find they are complimentary to each other. Sorry about the typing - one hand in plaster following an op! Guess why I’m doing theory now!!!


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Welcome to the Community Adrian.

Sorry to hear about your restriction. Guess its either theory or slide guitar.
Win win either way.



:joy: :+1: can’t keep a good guitar in its case. Pot now off warming up this evening

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