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When I started getting into music production, I went out and searched for synthesizer books that would take my game to the next level. I found that some books were helpful and others weren’t so much. Now, with this being said, some were just harder than others to follow.
My opinion is that the best synth book is currently Welsh’s Synthesizer Cookbook. You can view it here at Amazon. It’s a rather inexpensive book that goes a long way.
Check out this article I wrote on my favorite synthesizers. These are some awesome keyboards that you can use some of the techniques that you pick up from the following books.
It is my opinion that having a synthesis book handy can go a long way if you seek a career in music production or sound design. With this being said, you can find a lot of great information online, however, you will also run into the know it all trolls on the forums who are sometimes more harmful than helpful.
What To Look For In A Synthesis Book?
You will want to find a book that covers all of the confusing controls of synthesizers. Synthesizers can be extremely confusing if you’re new to them.
- Creating Patches
- Using Arppegiators
- Using Sequencers
- Mono VS Poly
- Wavetable Synthesis
- Modular Synthesizer
- FM Synthesis
- Subtractive Synthesis
When I first started learning how to use a synthesizer, I really didn’t know much to be honest. I was looking at all of the control knobs and kind of freaking out. I think went online and started looking in forums and while there were some people who were helpful, I also found people who weren’t.
Once I tried looking online, I decided to figure out which book would be best for learning how to use my synthesizer. Let’s get into my favorite books for synths below.
Learning how to use synthesizers doesn’t just help with hardware synths, it also will help use VSTS with your DAW. In simple terms, learning how to use one synth will usually result in you getting better across the board.
Best Books For Synthesizers
Welsh’s Synthesizer Cookbook
This book to me is the holy grail of synthesizers. I personally believe that without this book I wouldn’t have learned a quarter of what I have today. This book starts with the absolute basics and it builds from there. Another thing that this book does well is to show the musician how to build patches.
This book shows you how to create patches and this gives you a great idea on how to apply this to other sounds. If your someone with limited knowledge of synths, but you are musically inclined, you will definitely enjoy it.
One thing I say is to just give it a chance. Practice building the patches it shows you and also try and experiment with each lesson it brings about.
This is currently the best option in my honest opinion. Remember, there’s a huge learning curve with synthesizers, so don’t expect to nail this in the first couple of weeks, it will take years to get absolutely comfortable.
The Synthesizer – Mark Vail
This is another great option for beginner synth lovers. I have only read the reviews on this book, but from what I understand is that this also does a great job breaking down the basics of synths.
The Synthesizer is another book that is heavily recommended amongst the keyboard community.
Programming Synthesizers – Alfred’s
Alfred’s is one of the most trusted companies when it comes to music books. I began learning how to play piano from their lesson books. They really break down the basic fundamentals of each subject really well. Most piano instructors that I had growing up recommended their books as well.
Check out the best piano books for students here. These are all solid options for those who are younger.
You will find that synthesizers are extremely complex, so the more research and learning you can do, the better.
I would definitely recommend this book, but this is another one that I haven’t tried out myself. I can say that a lot of people on forums talk about this as well as musicians who are touring.
Commonly Asks Questions
Are Synthesizer Books Helpful?
Absolutely. Most books will be helpful in learning certain things about synthesizers. Some will do a better job explaining topics than others. If you’re someone who has been on Youtube and you’ve watched a ton of videos, might as well move onto books as well.
I find myself going back to my Synthesizer Cookbook when I need to figure out how to program certain patches.
Books Or The Internet?
I say both. The best thing to do in my opinion would be to rely on the books and supplement them with music forums as well. Once you have a good understanding, you can check out the forums and weigh in/learn more about certain topics.
Youtube is also an amazing source for learning how to do certain things with your synths. You can basically find tutorials for all synthesizers on Youtube. A lot of the time, these musicians are very familiar with the synths and they should cover what you’re looking for.
How Often Should You Use Your Synth Books?
As often as needed. I would say that you will be spending a significant time when you first purchase one. The more you can understand your book, the better in the long run. If your goal is to become a music producer, you should 100% have a good foundation when it comes to the basic terminology of synths.
Is Music Theory Needed To Understand Synthesizers?
My honest opinion is, not really. There are a lot of studio producers without the slightest knowledge of music theory and they do an amazing job. I believe that knowing music theory will go a long way though.
People who have a good understanding of the piano before they learn synths will be able to focus more on learning the synth. If you’re trying to teach yourself how to play the synth as well as trying to learn how to use it, it may take a longer time.
I hope these synthesizer books help you in your journey to learning how to play the synthesizer. Leave a comment below if you have tried some of these or if you have some recommendations to others.
Thanks for the post — I’ll probably pick up that first book. But you really should personally review each of the books here. I came to your post hoping for an expert opinion on which one book to buy, and you can only really offer a review on one!
I’d suggest purchasing those next two books and others, reading them and looking for their strengths and weaknesses, then updating this post.