Hal Leonard Guitar Method Review | The Best Guitar Method?

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Learning how to play the guitar can be a challenging and rewarding experience, but where do you begin? Maybe with a popular guitar method!

The Hal Leonard Guitar Method is a group of 3 method books written to teach aspiring guitarists how to play the instrument in a structured and effective way.

And being written by two amazing guitar instructors, Greg Koch and Will Schmid, I can tell you that it delivers!

Personal anecdote aside, this post will provide an in-depth review of the Hal Leonard Guitar Method, examining its structure, teaching methodology, pros and cons, importance of supplemental materials and practice, my student success story, and how it compares to other guitar methods.

Whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate player, this review will help you decide if the Hal Leonard Guitar Method is right for you.

Introduction: What is the Hal Leonard Guitar Method?

Learning how to play guitar is a popular hobby, but how do you get started? Well, a method book certainly helps.

However, there’s a boatload of guitar method books, and finding the right method to start learning can be daunting.

Luckily, there’s the Hal Leonard guitar method book series.

The Hal Leonard guitar method is one of the most popular and reputable guitar teaching methods.

It’s a series of 3 books, and you can purchase all 3 of them as a single unit called the “Hal Leonard Guitar Method Complete Edition“.

It’s a comprehensive and user-friendly approach to guitar instruction that has helped thousands of people build a foundational guitar skillset, allowing them to play their favorite tunes, compose, and even improvise!

Here’s my copy. Don’t mind the image quality.

Hal Leonard Guitar Method Complete | My personal copy

An Overview of the Hal Leonard Guitar Method

The Hal Leonard Guitar Method is a series of instructional books and supplemental materials created by Will Schmid and Greg Koch.

The three books cover nearly every essential guitar technique, from beginner to advanced. Due to this fact it’s widely used in music schools, public school guitar classes, and by private guitar teachers, including myself!

An important note: The 3 books contain both musical notation and guitar tablature, so you’ll have to learn both systems for reading music.

The Structure of the Hal Leonard Guitar Method

The Hal Leonard Guitar Method is divided into three levels/books that progressively introduce and develop essential guitar techniques. Each book comes with a play-along CD that features full-band tracks, as well as backing tracks for practice.

I strongly suggest buying the 3 books in a single bundle, called the Hal Leonard Guitar Method Complete Edition.

Step-by-Step Guitar Method

Book one introduces the fundamentals of guitar playing, including how to hold the guitar, tuning, basic chords, basic music theory, and strumming patterns.

Book two builds on these concepts and introduces new chords, scales, and techniques such as bending and vibrato.

Book three focuses on advanced concepts such as fingerpicking, advanced chords, and improvisation.

Regarding reading music, Book one will start off with standard notation, which helps you understand rhythm and learn notes across the fretboard.

As you move into books two and three, they’ll introduce guitar tablature written alongside the notation.

Exploring the Essential Elements of Guitar

The Hal Leonard Guitar Method covers nearly all essential elements of guitar playing, from basic chords and strumming patterns to advanced techniques such as alternate picking exercises and improvisation.

The method also includes exercises for developing ear training, rhythm skills, and music theory knowledge.

Learning Styles and Teaching Methodology

The Hal Leonard Guitar Method is designed to accommodate different learning styles and abilities.

It uses a combination of visual aids, written instructions, and audio examples to provide a comprehensive learning experience.

Understanding Different Learning Styles and How the Hal Leonard Guitar Method Incorporates Them

The Hal Leonard Guitar Method incorporates different learning styles such as visual, aural, and kinesthetic.

For visual learning, the book uses notation/tabs, chord diagrams and pictures.

Aurally, learners can practice along with the audio examples.

Kinesthetically, learners can try out the techniques themselves and learn by doing.

As a whole, the different learning styles will help you become a more “complete” guitar player, and make the learning experience exciting.

Teaching Methodology and Instructional Strategies

The Hal Leonard Guitar Method uses a progressive approach that builds on previously learned concepts.

The method also emphasizes the practical application of the techniques by providing a variety of songs and exercises to practice.

The supplemental materials such as audio CD’s and Hal Leonard’s online resources provide additional insight and instruction.

Pros and Cons of the Hal Leonard Guitar Method

Like any method, the Hal Leonard Guitar Method has its pros and cons.

Advantages of the Hal Leonard Guitar Method

The primary advantage is the comprehensive and structured approach to guitar instruction that covers all the essential techniques.

This means the method can get you playing guitar fast, and is suitable for both beginners and intermediate players.

Plus, you’re hard-pressed to find better authors than Greg Koch and Will Schmid.

The other advantage is the supplemental materials. The audio tracks are nice, and the Hal Leonard website has some awesome additional resources.

Disadvantages of the Hal Leonard Guitar Method

The Hal Leonard Guitar Method may not be suitable for advanced players or those looking for a more specialized approach.

The method may also be too structured for some learners who prefer a more flexible and personalized approach.

Additionally, some users have reported that the play-along CD tracks are not always accurate.

Lastly, the book uses notation a lot in the beginning, and a lot of guitar players don’t care to learn how to read standard musical notation.

The Importance of Supplemental Materials and Practice

Why Supplemental Materials are Important for Learning Guitar

Supplemental materials for learning guitar provide additional layers to the learning process, which ensures greater exponential growth in guitar playing.

These materials, such as tablature, sheet music, and instructional videos, make the learning experience more engaging, fun, and rewarding.

Supplemental materials can also provide additional practice opportunities beyond what is covered in the method book. By learning new techniques and practicing different types of music, readers can expand their skills and become more well-rounded musicians.

Creating an Effective Practice Routine with the Hal Leonard Guitar Method

To make the most out of the Hal Leonard Guitar Method, it’s important to establish a consistent practice routine. The book provides a suggested lesson plan, but it’s up to you or your student to practice regularly.

It’s also important to set goals and track progress. By focusing on specific skills and tracking improvement, you can stay motivated and feel a sense of accomplishment as you progress through the book.

My Personal Feedback and Hal Leonard Guitar Method Review

Real-Life Success Story of My Guitar Student

I have a guitar student that made it through all 3 books within a year.

By the end of that first year he had learned notation, tablature, popular melodies, drop D tuning, essential guitar chords, core tenets of guitar theory, fingerstyle, essential guitar techniques, scales, and so much more!

He was the first student to work through this method with me, and the results were well above par.

From there we’ve moved onto more advanced and niche-specific method books, but the guitar method opened up the doors to move forward.

Other Feedback and Hal Leonard Guitar Method Reviews

Student feedback for the Hal Leonard Guitar Method has been overwhelmingly positive. Most readers and teachers praise the book for its clear explanations and engaging exercises.

You can read more customer reviews here, on Amazon.

Comparing the Hal Leonard Guitar Method to Other Guitar Learning Programs

While the Hal Leonard Guitar Method is a popular choice for many guitar players, there are many other guitar learning methods, books, and programs on the market.

Bookwise, some popular alternatives include:

  • The Definitive Guitar Handbook by Rusty Cutchin
  • Hal Leonard Guitar Tab Method by Jeff Schroedl
  • Guitar for Dummies by Mark Phillips

Some notable online alternatives include Guitar Tricks, JamPlay, and Fender Play.

Compared to these programs, the Hal Leonard Guitar Method stands out for its clear explanations and variety of music styles.

However, other programs may offer more personalized instruction or a more modern approach to learning guitar.

Hal Leonard Guitar Method Review Conclusion: Is It Right for You?

Overall, the Hal Leonard Guitar Method is an excellent choice for beginners and intermediate players looking to build a strong foundation in guitar playing.

It provides clear explanations and engaging exercises, and the supplemental materials and suggested practice routine can help keep students on track.

While there may be other guitar learning books and programs on the market, the Hal Leonard Guitar Method is a tried and true option that has helped many students find guitar playing success.

In conclusion, the Hal Leonard Guitar Method is a well-designed and comprehensive book series helping guitarists of all levels achieve their goals.

While it may have its downsides, the method’s emphasis on structured learning, teaching strategy, and supplemental materials make it a valuable resource for any aspiring guitarist.

Whether you’re looking to start from scratch or enhance your existing skills, the Hal Leonard Guitar Method is worth considering as part of your guitar learning journey.


Is the Hal Leonard Guitar Method suitable for beginners?

Yes, the Hal Leonard Guitar Method is a great option for beginners.

It is structured to teach the fundamentals of guitar playing from A-Z, starting from the very basics such as tuning and holding the guitar, and moving onto fundamental music theory and guitar techniques.

Do I need to have any prior musical experience to use the Hal Leonard Guitar Method?

No, you do not need any prior musical experience to use the Hal Leonard Guitar Method.

It’s designed to teach guitar playing from the ground up, gradually moving up in levels of experience.

What kind of supplemental materials are included with the Hal Leonard Guitar Method?

Like most Hal Leonard books, The Hal Leonard Guitar Method includes a variety of supplemental materials, such as audio tracks to accompany lessons, instructional videos, and play-along tracks.

These materials enhance the learning experience and provide additional practice opportunities.

Can I use the Hal Leonard Guitar Method to learn acoustic and electric guitar?

Yes, the Hal Leonard Guitar Method can be used to learn both acoustic and electric guitar.

It covers the fundamental techniques that are common for both types of guitars, and guitar as a whole, making it a viable option for any guitarist.