There are more than a few reliable places online for buying classical guitar sheet music.
To make the listing useful for more people, I am interpreting ‘sheet music’ to mean not just specific scores alone (e.g. Sonata Op. 15 by M.Giuliani) but also larger collections and compilations of guitar music in general.
Some of the well known, online places to look for printed guitar music are the following:
The number of items on offer varies widely between these sellers. Mention must be made right away of a humongous (and free) resource if you are looking for a specific score sheet in guitar music:
This is a deep and extensive catalog of music running into thousands of entries. If you put in Giuliani as the search term, the search page lists over 2,000 pages of musical scores. If you want to drill down to something specific by a certain composer, this is your best bet.
musicnotes.com: a varied collection arranged by eras
There is a fairly varied collection of music on musicnotes.com arranged by periods. The classical guitar music page includes sheet music including solo pieces, duets, ensemble pieces as well as TABs. The site is worth an exploration to look for specific scores or more general scores from a particular composer or period.
Pieces including duets, guitar TABs and ensemble pieces are arranged in these sections below, with the number in brackets being the number of pieces in the section.
- 16th-Century (1)
- 17th-Century (11)
- 18th-Century (35)
- 19th-Century (58)
- 20th-Century (108)
- 21st-Century (4)
The 20th Century group has a listing of some good Erik Satie compositions as well as Agustin Barrios pieces. The items are also listed by a different grouping of eras that classical guitarists are familiar with:
- Renaissance (17)
- Baroque (107)
- Romantic (233)
- Classical Period (158)
This classification, while good in theory, is not always followed up diligently. For instance, the Classical Period section has a sizeable representation of the works of guitar maestro and composer Mauro Giuliani while other composers from the period like Fernando Sor, Napoleon Coste, Matteo Carcassi and the like go completely missing. The mystery is resolved when you find these composers listed under the Romantic section for some reason.
The Romantic section thus ends up having the maximum entries with all the classical guitar standards residing there: Recuerdos de la Alhambra, Romanza, Lagrima, Asturias, Mallorca and numerous etudes by Sor, Coste, Tarrega, Carulli, Carcassi and Aguado. Of the etudes, Sor and Carcassi are well represented but not so much the others. There are also pieces by J K Mertz.
While the Renaissance period is hardly represented by much, the Baroque period, as expected, has a good collection of Bach scores. It also has quite a few Vivaldi transcriptions along with a few pieces by Spanish composer Gaspar Sanz and a handful of pieces by French composer Robert de Visée.
Overall, musicnotes.com may not offer the largest catalog of classical guitar music on the planet but it may just have the ones you are looking for. For all the Classical-Romantic confusion of periods, the site is well organized and the search engine works well. Certainly worth a visit.
amazon.com: Great for compilations and books
Like with every category you can think of, Amazon has its fair share of music books to offer classical guitar enthusiasts.
The site does not specialize in music scores for single pieces. It is more about popular books (methods and scale books, for example) and best-selling collections (like anthologies and compilations).
Sheet music for classical guitar (Amazon link)
For both easy and intermediate repertoire material, the compilations here cover quite some ground and will probably contain what you’re looking for. Of course, the nature of a compilation is that it will also come with many things you are not looking for! But, who knows, you may always find interesting material in the extra pieces that tag along.
For instance, you have a fine collection of Erik Satie’s Gymnopedies and Gnossiennes as also Easy to Intermediate Solos by Spanish Masters with TABs of popular pieces such as Lagrima, Recuerdos de la Alhambra and Testamen de Amelia. (Amazon links)
By and large, if you’re looking for popular pieces for the classical guitar and willing to spend on a compilation book rather than a single score sheet, Amazon can be your first and last stop.
stringsbymail.com: Surprisingly exhaustive for sheet music
This popular site for buying virtually any kind of classical guitar strings is also, surprisingly, an excellent resource for sheet music for the guitar.
As against many sites that have sizeable content but poor organization, SBM has a wonderfully well-organized structure simply based on composer names. The Sor page, for instance, lists the composer’s complete works practically.
So does the page on Gaspar Sanz – the complete works are neatly laid out and available. The Bach page is similarly comprehensive as well.
The site claims to offer more than 2,700 sheet music titles for the solo classical guitar from the Renaissance to the present. All the great composer-players such as Fernando Sor, Mauro Giuliani, Johann Kasper Mertz, Gaspar Sanz, and Francisco Tarrega are well represented.
You will also find numerous transcriptions of compositions originally meant for other instruments by J.S. Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Antonio Vivaldi.
And the site features works by modern composers such as Andrew York, Agustin M. Barrios, Leo Brouwer, Roland Dyens, Manuel Ponce, and Heitor Villa-Lobos.
Searching for a piece basically entails searching for the works of a given composer and is generally easy. This is a great resource from a well regarded online retailer.
sheetmusicplus.com: Huge repository of sheet music
If you want size and depth, sheetmusicplus.com is an ocean with a collection of over 2 million scores and music books. The classical guitar sheet music section alone has over 22,000 items in store. The search functionality, right on top of the page, is the simplest way to start your visit here.
Just entering a composer’s name will be good enough to get you into the ballpark.
There are both digital downloads and physical books, individual score sheets (mostly) and compilations. Again, there are solo works as well as duets and ensemble pieces. Individual score sheets can be as inexpensive as $2 so you really don’t have to pay for whole compilations when you’re looking for a single piece.
Top composers for classical guitar sheet music as listed by the site:
- Bach, Johann Sebastian (1190)
- Traditional (621)
- Sor, Fernando (299)
- Giuliani, Mauro (241)
- Dowland, John (224)
- Albeniz, Isaac (164)
- Carulli, Ferdinando (152)
The Renaissance section has over a thousand items. Dowland’s lute music abounds as single scores or tiny collections. Famous compilations like The Renaissance Guitar by master teacher Frederick Noad are available.
The Baroque section has close to 4,000 items – featuring numerous works by Bach, Weiss, Telemann and Sanz. You can get a specific Bach sarabande if you wish. Or the complete lute suites if you prefer.
The Classical period is also well represented with 4000 items, featuring the usual suspects: Carcassi, Sor (including the famous Segovia’s 20 Studies), Giuliani, Diabelli and the like. There are many compilations of guitar music from this perennially popular period for easy and intermediate players.
The 20th-century section has as many as 5300 items, featuring recent composers like Heitor Villa-Lobos, Toru Takemitsu, Agustin Barrios, Joaquin Turina, Leo Brouwer, William Walton, etc.
Overall, this site is a treasure trove for sheet music lovers and for the most part very affordable. It is a favourite haunt of mine.
halleonard.com: A big tradition in classical guitar music
In the days before there were computers at home – yes, there used to be days like those – Hal Leonard won its spurs as a respected publishing house for music books. It had its share of classical guitar methods and sheet music collections.
The online version today, halleonard.com, continues the tradition of serving up an extensive collection of classical guitar sheet music books and collections covering all eras.
You can search the site in different ways – by composer, by collection or by duet/ensemble. This is a handy feature to help you go through at least 1400 items of guitar music.
There is also a convenient section for anthologies and compilations of classical guitar music. The emphasis on the site is more on books rather than sheet music for single pieces. You are more likely to find Bach’s Lute Suites for Guitar rather than just the music score for a Prelude alone.
virtualsheetmusic.com: Affordable sheet music
This is an affordable place for score sheets although somewhat cluttered in appearance and usage (in my opinion). The solo and classical guitar section lists over 700 items, so it’s not very huge, but it features solo pieces rather than huge collections. Which is a welcome thing if you’re looking for particular compositions.
Pieces by all the usual biggies are there: Bach, Carcassi, Albeniz and a whole host of familiar classical guitar composers.
You can also filter the search by skill – easy, intermediate, advanced. It’s a great feature that you wonder why no one else readily offers you this. Also, as another unique feature, you can become a member here for a nominal annual fee and get huge discounts on the actual pieces you buy. It makes a lot of sense if you buy sheet music often enough.
sheetmusicnow.com: Good selection of music scores
This is a well laid out, affordable set of classical guitar music scores. The site is almost exclusively about sheet music rather than method books and song collections. This is great for a player looking for something specific to learn and play. The site is so generalised to many instruments including the guitar. So the search facility within the classical guitar category is limited. About 1,000 items of sheet music appear to be available in this section. Going to the link above and browsing the pages quickly is probably the best option on the site.
schott-music.com: Tradition of publishing scores
This is a respected German publisher of music books and sheet music over the years. These are well produced, well edited publications, often pricey.
On the site, the music is cataloged in extensive sections like etudes and exercises for classical guitar, guitar solo works, duets, ensembles, guitar and string instruments, guitar and wind instruments, voice and guitar and so on. It’s a comprehensive range of options from a publisher of repute. You will find standard works like 24 studies of Giuliani and Op. 60 pieces from Sor and Daily Studies by Segovia, neatly organised.
You can check out, as a sampling, the etudes and exercises music page over here.
It’s possible for a beginner or an early intermediate player to build a repertoire from free music online. Read my article How to Build Your Repertoire from Free Sheet Music for some great tips and tricks. Intermediate guitarists may find my article Repertoire Ideas for Classical Guitarists of relevance and interest.