Teach Yourself Classical Guitar
There is no doubt that the classical guitar is a hard instrument to learn even if you have a good guitar teacher. However, it is possible to teach yourself classical guitar without the need of a private teacher, or going to a music center.
In this article, I will be discussing how you can teach yourself classical guitar, what kind of books and methods you need that will get you fast results, without the need for expensive private lessons.
The short answer; to teach yourself classical guitar you need a series of courses online because they are relatively cheap, and you learn at your own pace. Stick with one course until you finish it, then you can continue to a more advanced one. Your practice time is key here and it will take a lot of commitment from your side, as there is no one around to tell you to practice!
How do I start?
Do you have a classical guitar?
And I mean classical, not an acoustic guitar. What is the difference? Classical guitar has nylon strings – the first three strings from the bottom – and the acoustic guitar has steel strings.
You need a classical guitar to teach yourself classical guitar, so go and buy one online or offline. The famous question is what is the best classical guitar to buy, I am not going to answer it as you don’t need the “best” guitar to start.
You need a good enough guitar – between $100 & $200 – nothing fancy, but also not very cheap as these will make you hate the instrument!
Got the guitar? Good, now to the next step.
The Guitar Method
This is a crucial step and honestly, from my experience, most of the students who didn’t continue learning or quit too soon did it because of a lack of a good guitar method.
Some people like the old school, a book and a tape – or CD/DVD – I learned with a tape by the way.
Others prefer to watch the instructor and mimic him as this will avoid falling into bad habits. Both ways are correct.
But more important is which method to choose, as there are hundreds of guitar methods out there.
Let’s examine the most famous methods that are designed to teach yourself classical guitar.
Famous Classical Guitar Methods
- Progressive Complete Learn to Play Classical Guitar Manual
- First Book for the Guitar – Complete: Guitar Technique
- Enjoy Playing Guitar Tutor Book 1&2
- You Can Teach Yourself Classic Guitar
- The Hal Leonard Classical Guitar Method
- The Guitarist’s Way by Peter Nuttall
Like I mentioned before, there are hundreds if not thousands of method books out there that teach you classical guitar.
I choose these ones because I taught from them, and I used them as resources in my online courses.
Each method is unique and different from the others in the way of teaching, the illustration, the progression, and of course the pieces themselves.
I like all of them, and I still use some of them in my private teaching as it gives more credibility to use a well-established method to teach from, especially if it’s from something like Oxford or Hall Leonard.
Ok, let’s talk about them more in detail.
Progressive Complete Learn to Play Classical Guitar Manual
This was the last method I bought and used in my teaching, as I had many other books and I thought I didn’t need a new one, boy was I wrong!
The method is huge – about 200 large pages – and it comes with a double CD that contains all the exercises and duets, and there are many.
But what is remarkable about this method is that it takes you from a complete beginner to playing Bach Bourree in Em, a little advanced piece that requires many techniques and bar chords.
I can honestly say that if you are going to teach yourself classical guitar then this is an excellent method with tons of duets and great repertoire and provides years of practice as it covers tons of ground.
First Book for the Guitar – Complete: Guitar Technique
I have a secret to tell you, this is the book that taught me how to play guitar back in 1993!
I must have finished it like 2 or 3 times as there were no other resources than this book until my dad sent me another book – a long story to tell later.
Frederick M. Noad is a well-respected classical guitarist and teacher, and he was the one who started the first TV program to teach classical guitar.
Here, you can watch him on his TV show:
There are 3 parts of this book, and you can buy them separately or in one big volume. Many exercises are done in duet matters, but unfortunately, the book does not come with a CD.
So I believe the series is intended to be used in classrooms or to be used with a guitar tutor to accompany the student.
Despite this setback, the series is a great resource for a beginner to learn the classical guitar up to advanced positions on guitar and offers a variety of styles and pieces.
One thing I strongly remember about this series is that even in the advanced book (book 3), there is no mention of bar chords!
And the reason the author mentions this is that he wants the student to focus more on learning the notes, right and left-hand techniques, music theory, and shifting positions before worrying about achieving clear sound from the bar chords.
I find that to be genius!
Enjoy Playing Guitar Tutor Book 1&2
I found this book back in 2008 and it was the old version, not the one we have right now. They improved the illustration greatly and added quizzes, checkpoints, a practicing ledger, and of course a CD with all the exercises.
The book comes in large pages which makes the notes clear and visible, and the quality of the audio recording is really good.
Debbie Cracknell is a superb teacher and her original compositions are taken as exam pieces on the Trinity examination board for classical guitar.
The book style is intended for kids aged 8 to 12 years old, but don’t let that fool you, by the end of the first book you will know lots of techniques like scales, arpeggios, playing two notes chords, different time signatures, dynamics, and much more, and all that is done in a very friendly manner.
A good point to mention is that this series has much more to offer. After you finish book 1 or book 2 there are many other books like Guitar Duets, Ensemble Games, Going Solo, and Christmas Crackers, so you won’t run out of pieces to learn.
You Can Teach Yourself Classic Guitar
William Bay did an excellent job with this book. He is an accomplished guitarist and trumpet player and has performed on both instruments in a wide variety of professional settings, and he has authored over 200 books with sales in the millions.
From its title “You Can Teach Yourself Classical Guitar” you will play a very wide assortment of solos ranging from the Renaissance to 20th Century compositions.
The illustration can be much better as it’s not as good as Debbie Cracknell’s book, but the book definitely contains more studies ranging from great classical masters like Sor, Carcassi, Carulli, Diabelli, Guiliani, Bach, Handel and Dowland.
The book comes with an audio library online so you can hear the exercises and some videos online too.
The bottom line is the book can be a great tool for sight-reading as it contains lots of short line melodies and exercises, but If you are a total beginner who wishes to learn classical guitar by yourself, I wouldn’t recommend it as you may get lost in the how-to and pick up bad habits in your technique.
The Hal Leonard Classical Guitar Method
“The Hal Leonard Classical Guitar Method is designed for anyone just learning to play classical guitar. This comprehensive and easy-to-use beginner’s guide by renowned classical guitarist and teacher Paul Henry uses the music of the master composers to teach you the basics of the classical style and technique.”
Well, that is what they say on the website but the truth is far from this!
The book comes with a CD to play which is ok, and the print quality is very good, something we all appreciate in any Hal Leonard publishing.
However, the downside of the book is that the collection of exercises is really boring and dull! There are better options already out there for certain things, but overall this method offers truly nothing new to the world.
The Guitarist’s Way by Peter Nuttall
For our last method book in this review, we end with The Guitarist’s Way by Peter Nuttall. There are a lot of debates about this method, some people like it very much and others hate it very much!
The reason for this is that the book is really short, only 16 pages! The series of the book contains 4 volumes and each one is the same length, 16 pages.
Not to mention that there is no illustration of the hands or techniques, only cartoon doodling on both sides of each page.
But despite all this, I find this series to be a very good resource for learning classical guitar! The reason is the tiny small step-by-step approach the author uses throughout the entire four books, which makes it really easy for the learner to follow, and not get overwhelmed with information.
The fact that you can finish the first book in 2 months if you dedicate 30 minutes of your time every day to learn and practice, will make you feel that you accomplished something, even a little accomplishment in the early stages will give you the proper motivation to keep going.
But to maximize your benefit from this method you need to finish at least the first 3 books (yellow-Orange-Green-Blue is the sequence of the method).
My recommendation is this is an excellent book to teach yourself classical guitar, but it will require extra explanation on some points as there are no illustrations or audio/video files to go with it.
How about one method with all the above?
That is right, in my method I used all of the above methods to tailor-made the Classical Guitar Essentials courses to save you the trouble of going through all of these books, and I picked the best of every book and included it in my method.
This process took me months if not years of preparation and lots of trials and errors to come up with the final outline of the courses.
So, the way I see it, you have two options to teach yourself classical guitar:
- You can pick any of these methods above and start on your own.
- Or, let me take you by the hand and teach you classical guitar from scratch using a collection of all these methods.