Jazz Guitar Books

The Jazz Guitarist’s Library + YOUR Suggestions

Jazz guitar books and recordings are the two main sources of learning and growth for jazz guitarists. Some teachers may say “don’t learn from books,” but I strongly believe you should get what you can from any source of information available (including books, DVDs and websites).

*NEW*: You are now encouraged to share YOUR jazz guitar book suggestions. Visitors can now review, discuss and share their favorite jazz guitar books here in the comments, at the bottom of the page.

In my humble opinion, every aspiring jazzman should possess at least a few specific texts on music. They could, for example, consist of: a method for learning the instrument, technical exercises, a good fake book, transcriptions, a theory (or harmony) book, articles on practice routines, etc.

In this section of the website, I will share with you reviews of the best jazz guitar books on the market (coming strictly from my experience). Some of these works are masterclass DVD’s or come with an audio CD, some others only with plain text and music notation. I’m even starting to include personal development books that have helped me recently.

I hope they are as useful to you as they were to me! Note: I only review and discuss the books that I personally own. Here are my favorite jazz Guitar Books with review articles:

Jazz Guitar Soloing: The Cellular Approach (by Randy Vincent)

Take lines played from the masters on jazz recordings. Slice them up. Then apply them wherever you need them while soloing on chord progressions! Instead of memorizing (or creating) long lines of notes, the author insists that we can use basic 4-note cells to move…  (click to read more)


Three-Note Voicings and Beyond (by Randy Vincent)

With endorsements from various jazz guitar greats such as Pat Metheny and Jim Hall (+many others) this book is an obvious must have for serious jazz guitarists …The author synthesizes jazz harmony on the guitar in a clear and concise way. Within its 200 pages, it will give any player a few lifetimes worth of … (click to read more)


A Modern Method for Guitar (by William Leavitt)

Modern Method for Guitar

A Modern Method for Guitar by William Levitt is certainly the most complete book series on the guitar ever published. It covers … (click to read more)



Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary (by Rick Peckham)

Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary by Rick Peckham is another great book from Berklee Press: a great reference (and exercise tool) to help you memorize a lot of must-know movable chord shapes on the… (click to read more)



The Advancing Guitarist (by Mick Goodrick)

The Advancing Guitarist by Mick Goodrick has become a classic: it is essential reading for any serious jazz guitarist. It has opened the eyes of … (click to read more)



Jazz Guitar Study Series (by Barry Galbraith)

5 Volumes of Barry Galbraith Books
Barry Galbraith books in the Jazz Guitar Study Series are wonderful jazz guitar tools. They are in fact compilations of modern … (click to read more)



Connecting Chords with Linear Harmony (by Bert Ligon)

Connecting Chords with Linear Harmony

Bert Ligon’s Connecting Chords with Linear Harmony is my favorite jazz improvisation technique book of all time. It explains and exemplifies jazz lines: their foundation, variations … (click to read more)



Forward Motion (by Hal Galper)

Forward Motion: Hal Galper

Forward Motion by jazz pianist and educator Hal Galper was another one of these books that completely changed my perspective: it opened my eyes on the … (click to read more)



The Barry Harris Workshop Video (DVDs set)

Barry Harris Workshop DVD

I’ve been using the Barry Harris Workshop for a few years, and I still do. My teacher, who recommend it to me at the time, said:  “Yeah, I saw Barry Harris at a clinic once. He literally taught us … (click to read more)



Barry Harris Harmonic Method for Guitar (Alan Kingstone)

Barry Harris Harmonic Method for Guitar
This is the book that changed it all for me harmonically speaking. Kingstone wrote a comprehensive volume on the harmonic approach and the best part … (click to read more)



The Type-Z Guide to Success with Ease (by Marc Allen)

Not a guitar book, not even a music book… but oh-so needed for the average jazz musician. Is it possible to achieve a high degree of success without working until you drop?The Type Z-Guide presents a way to enjoy success with less stress, less hard work, and much … (click to read more)



More Jazz Guitar Books (without review)


Modern Chord Progressions (by Ted Greene)

A must for guitarists serious about learning harmony on the guitar. Ted Greene demonstrates hundreds of ways to play simple yet crucial jazz and classical progressions. All in chord diagrams, all in “chord melody” style with clear instuctions. A lifetime worth of practice and inspiration (even within the first few pages!)

Jazz Guitar Voicings Vol.1 – The Drop-2 Book (by Randy Vincent)

This is the prequel to “three-note voicings” book by the same author. An amazing, thorough, yet easy-to-grasp book on the following concept: building effective drop-2 voicings using inversions and passing diminished chords. (Audio CDs included with demonstration tracks)

Effortless Mastery (by Kenny Werner)

The subtitle (Liberating the Master Musician Within) says it all. Provides the reader with a clear approach to achieve maximum potential all the while staying relaxed and focussed. Relax, play great music, improve faster and enjoy the ride!

Patterns, Scales and Modes for Jazz Guitar (by Arnie Berle)

This is a great “entry level” book for intermediate guitarists. Coming from a rock, blues and pop background, it opened the first few “jazz doors” to me. Great techniques (scales in positions, arpeggios, etc.), great lines and chord voicings. It’s a nice and smooth introduction to the fabulous world of jazz guitar improv and comping.

Clear Solutions for Jazz Improvisers (by Jerry Coker)

Coker’s straightforward reference contains 20 very well written articles on a variety of topics. He chooses to go deeper into some nuanced details of improvisation. Really useful clarifications about melody and harmony and their different manifestations in jazz abound. A must for serious beginners and intermediate improvisers.

Melodic Rhythms for Guitar (by William Leavitt)

One of the greatest book to improve sight-reading abilities for jazz guitarists. Super-charge your skills by dealing with the too often overlooked RHYTHMS of written melodic lines. Leavitt organized this book by rhythmic density and made sure that some key 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7-note rhythmic figures are repeated enough times to ingrain them well.

Note: I recommend you have at least a foundation in note reading before using Melodic Rhythms. See “Modern Method” above.

So, what’s YOUR favorite
instructional Jazz Guitar Book?

Now that you’ve seen what I recommend, would you suggest other books, DVDs or instructional material? Let us know here! You can also add or comment to the reviews above or include books that are not necessarily guitar related.

14 thoughts on “Jazz Guitar Books

  1. The two Mickey Baker books of course. I think it’s imoortant to point out or not to forget a lot of the great guitarists… starting maybe with Charlie Christian emulated other musicians I.e. horns, keyboard, etc. and sometimes us guitars get caught up in the “medium” of the guitar and forget we’re playing music regardless of what instrument or medium it’s coming from. Also, Michael Wolff is such a fantastic musician… Jazz artist….great to learn from. There’s two cents. Btw, what great references… Books you recommend !! Thanks so kindly!! Paul

  2. Since playing guitar has never been my job, to find time to practice is my dayly battle. Five years ago I was giving up, being overwhelmed by the amount of jazz guitar material to learn, Then I tried with a new method: Garrison Fewell “Jazz improvisation for guitar – a Melodic approach” and my life changed. Someday I practice just half an hour, when I’m lucky I have a couple of hours. But that’s enough with that method. In three years I found myself improvising over quite difficult changes (I’ve never tought to be able to face Stella by starlight,,, instead). So I strongly suggest to try with Garrison Fewell, now I’m studying the same method but the Harmonic approach, and I’m constantly moving to a next level.

  3. Hello Marc,
    I planned to buy the Jazz Guitar Elements book a while ago but other things intervened. Now I checked once again to find out that the book is transformed into series of online lessons. What if I’d like to buy just the book? I believe it should be optional.
    Thanks in advance

  4. I believe I have about all of these. One book that came out recently is ‘The Jazz Harmony Book’ by David Berkman. Although it is not a guitar book, it is outstanding in understanding harmony. My favorite.

    I used the ‘Melodic Rhythms’ book in college. We had reading classes for guitarists and I ran the classes as a graduate student. It is intense, but for the guitarist wanting/needing to read, it is very good.

  5. Hello there, thanks for the great recommendations, one book I’ve been using that has been helpful in understanding chords and applying them is “The Complete Jazz Guitar” by Fred Sokolow..

    • Nice! I also really love the book with Tim Miller and Mick Goodrick. “Creative Comping” or something like that. It’s really great 🙂

  6. Lately its been Jerry Cokers Patterns for Jazz, its just a encyclopedic look at melodic patterns. If you do it as prescribed its lots of work and lots of reward.

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