Start Playing Guitar With the Hal Leonard Guitar Method

Like most method books, the Hal Leonard Guitar Method book doesn’t use tablature. Students will have to learn how to read notes. And that’s a good thing. The lessons start at ground zero for an absolute beginner and progress from there.

Hal Leonard Guitar Method

Book one grounds you in rudimentary chords and note playing at the basic, first position (frets one through four). There’s a nice variety of songs to learn from — rock, folk, holiday, classical, fiddle tunes, and more.

This was updated by co-writer and guitar-celebrity Greg Koch. (Like me, Greg lives in Milwaukee, and I’m lucky enough to catch his local gigs — he’s a great player and excellent writer/teacher.)

This books is quite typical for a grade 1 method book as it introduces the student to reading standard notation, single-note playing, and chord-playing and strumming. Lessons come with audio demonstrations on the accompanying CD, and there are play-along exercises.

Hal Leonard Guitar Method Gets Funky

What sets this book apart from some of the other method books is a freshening up of the music played on the lessons and on the play alongs. Just because the student is learning rudimentary guitar, and the passages need to be simple, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be fun to play, too. Here are example titles for some of the rudimentary lessons:

  • Surf Rock
  • Riffin’
  • Blues Bass
  • 12-Bar Rock
  • Spy Riff
  • Doo Wop
  • Boogie Bass

And the backing tracks, reflect the various styles, which I feel makes th learning process much more fun. Even the traditional play alongs, are arranged and presented with rockin’ and funky backing tracks. These include:

  • This Train (Is Bound for Glory)
  • When the Saints Go Marching In
  • The Star Spangled Banner
  • Time Is On My Side (made popular by the Rolling Stones)
Title Hal Leonard Guitar Method Book1
Authors Will Schmid and Greg Koch
Copyright Second Edition, 2002
Pages  48
Recommended for A complete beginner, or an experienced player who wants to learn how to read standard notation.
Prerequisites None. This book is suitable for an absolute beginner.
Accompanying The volume comes with an audio CD with performed versions of the lessons and backing tracks for play-along tunes.
Contents Lessons include:


  • How to hold the guitar and the pick.
  • Tuning the guitar.
  • The Rudiments of music including notes, the staff, and rests.
  • Reading practice for all six guitar strings at the first position.
  • Playing Single Notes Exercises
  • Playing Chords and Strumming
  • Play-Along Tracks on the Accompanying CD
 What I like The lessons are fresh and examples are played in contemporary styles of the blues, jazz, rock and country music.


Just because the exercises are simple, doesn’t mean they can’t be fun to play. This is the closest any volume-one method book I’ve seen comes to getting rockin’ and funky. You’ll have fun learning the basics with this book.

Learning the notes on each of the six strings can start to get tiresome. This book takes a break after teaching notes on the first four strings. It offers several lessons on playing chords, to break things up. Then it goes back to teaching notes on the fifth and sixth strings.

What I don’t like This book does exactly what it sets out to do and, as noted, in a fun manner. There’s nothing not to like about this book.
Recommendations I’d highly recommend this book to any beginner interested in starting the guitar. I would highly recommend this book to younger students who might be put of by the more dated and “traditional” playing styles used in other method books.
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2 thoughts on “Start Playing Guitar With the Hal Leonard Guitar Method”

  1. How much time is required to finish the first book for a beginner? I am working on the e & b strings for last 5 – 6 days, sometimes I am able to play correctly, sometimes not. It is also difficult to read the staffs.

    • Hi Anik,
      Its almost a year now how are your guitar skills now. Are you able to read the staffs properly. I just started to do exercises on the guitar method book 1. I find it very difficult to read the staffs


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