• Richard The Guitar Teacher

Using Play-Along Books

If you are a beginner guitar player, you may have come across videos on Youtube of people jamming to play-along tracks.

You maybe curious of what they are, and how they work. So let's have a look.

All you have to do is play along.

As a guitar teacher, I like my students to play with play-alongs tracks, to work on songs, scales and chords. You can pretty much practice anything with a play-along track.

Now, using play-along tracks, or backing tracks, they are some times called, should be used in moderation. You should use backing tracks as a tool, a long with practicing with a metronome and if possible, playing with other musicians.

Hands down the best way to develop as a guitar player, and as an over all musician, is to play with real musicians.

But we don't always have the opportunity to do this. This is where we can use play along books, and have a lot of fun doing so.

Whats are Play-alongs?

Backing tracks or play-alongs, are some sort of accompaniment that you can play along with. This can come in form of a trio, maybe drums, bass and piano. Or it can come in the form of a full band/orchestra.

What you will find in a play along book will be. A CD, or a website link where you can download the tracks. Music notation with or without tablature showing you what you need to play. This can be in a lot of detail or just a lead sheet.

Tablature will always be accompanied by music notation. Sometimes, mainly in jazz play alongs you will find just the notation.

If it is a play along book, say for Van Halen songs, you will find the tablature showing what to play and how to play it, along with the structure of the song, and additional


This is great, as you have everything you need to play and perform your faverute songs, all in one book.

Play-alongs come in all different styles, so if you are wanting to practice a Blues Shuffle in the key of A, you can pick a specific track/book that tailors to your needs.

Play along series books are very popular, and are a lot of fun. You can find play-along books for big band, or you favourite artist/band. I still use play along books to this day and find enjoyment in the big band series.

Some of my favourite play-along books.

Sittin' In with the Big Band

These books are great. The tunes are great and a a lot of fun to play. I would recommend starting off with book one as the songs are a little easier than the second book.

jamey Aebersold Minor blues and Blues in all keys.

I'm a fan of the whole collection on James Aebersold books, they are a lot of fun, and also have a lot of additional information on scales, and how to play over the tunes.

Lick Library Jimi Hendrix and AC/DC

The Lick Library books are fantastic. They have loads of artist and bands you can choose from. The backing tracks are very high quality.

I hope you find enjoyment in playing with play-along books, and jamming out to your favourite tunes.

Til next time,

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