All By Myself: A Review of Hal Leonard's "Beginning Solo Guitar" Book Series

You know how it goes. You sit down to play some of your favorite songs and before you know it you're missing your bandmates because you can't get all the notes you want to hear playing just your part. What if there were arrangements of some of these favorite songs that were exclusively transcribed for solo guitar? Ladies and gentlemen, Hal Leonard has answered that question for you with their "Beginning Solo Guitar" series.

The "Beginning Solo Guitar" series was originally previewed at the Summer 2013 NAMM show in Nashville. Playing With Chaos got a hold of the first 3 books in the series: The Beatles, Pop/Rock Classics, and First Jazz Standards. As you can see by the titles, they've got something for everyone. They've also added a Christmas book to the series.

I sat down to play through some of the arrangements in all three books, and I must say, if you plan on doing gigs by yourself with only one singer, or playing solo sets at restaurants, gala functions, and parties, this series may be just the thing you need.

First off, all of the arrangements are for solo guitar. That means that if you play them note for note, you're covering many of the nuances of a song that include the most salient parts of a bass line, key counter melodies, and in most cases, vocal passages that make a song instantly recognizable to the average listener.

I was impressed with the level of detail available in each song that was transcribed. The one criticism I have is that I wish the publisher had included some kind of scale to indicate the difficulty of each piece. Some of the songs are quite simple to play and sound great, while others are going to take a novice guitar player some time to learn. I also think the name of the series might be misleading to some, as they may believe they are buying a book that teaches them the solos in the songs listed. These are minor criticisms, however, because Hal Leonard continues its reign as a music publishing powerhouse with these arrangements. There are no mistakes in the music/tablature, and that alone is worth its weight in gold during this age of rushed production and lax editing policies. The books are also reasonably priced: something musicians can appreciate. At $12.99-$14.99 each, you're getting as many as 15 songs. That's less than a dollar per song!

Recommended For: Intermediate guitarists who want to be able to play some popular songs solo, whether it be at a solo/duo gig or around a campfire.

The "Beginning Solo Guitar" series is available to purchase ​from music retailers nationwide or online at Music Dispatch. Follow the direct links below to view the purchase information (as well as the song list) for each title.

Pop/Rock Classics
The Beatles
First Jazz Standards