This is a (very incomplete**) list of some of the best repertoire for beginning and early intermediate guitarists. For now, this includes mostly books/collections and etudes.
Most of you work with methods to start with. I personally use the Mel Bay Classical Guitar Method by Stanley Yates. Why? He was my teacher, and after a lot of discussion in pedagogy class it became very clear to me he knows what’s going on. I’ve also had more success using his method than using others (Parkening, Noad, etc.). My only critique of this method is that it’s not strong on notation reading development and may required some supplementary material.
If you’re looking for sight reading material or something to help you learn to read music, just about any method will work.
- The Carcassi Method is very good. It takes the approach of many other instrumental methods and progresses by key. All the music relatively good, and great for beginners. There has been some modern translations of the Carcassi method, but if you’re just in it for the music (and not the text), use the free stuff online.
- Giuliani’s Opus 1 contains many exercises. This is the same work from which the 120 right hand studies are extracted. You can find my take on the 120 right hand studies on the free stuff page.
- Aguado’s new method is also a great source of later 19C music. I like Aguado’s music because it’s chromatically surprising and interesting. Even the easy studies. There’s a lot of text, but more music towards the end.
- The Julio Sagreras Guitar Lessons books are also very popular. I don’t have a ton of personal experience with these, but I do know quite a few teachers who use them.
- Graded Repertoire for Guitar (books 1 and 2) by Stanley Yates are unique in the modern guitar rep book world: Dr. Yates worked with other publishing companies to include modern music. That’s a great selling point. If you play gigs, these books are sight readable and have attractive music, well worth the cost (even for advanced players).
- Estudios Sencillos by Leo Brouwer. A great collection of studies that are definitely Brouwer-esque. The linked books contains all 20 (and a bunch more Brouwer guitar works).
- 25 Etudes Esquisses by Gerald Garcia. A lot like Brouwer, but a bit more out there. Still fun to play and attractive.
- Carcassi: Etudes, Op. 60. The standard collection of 19C etudes. Please use a facsimile edition, as many modern editions omit or change Carcassi’s expressive markings which are incredibly important
- Sor: Etudes, Op. 60. Great set of easier etudes.