Best Fake Book Ever

Yesterday I received my copy of The Standards Real Book. Particularly since it was published twenty years ago, I recognize that I’m a little late to the party; however for the last ten years or so, I’ve been playing from various fake books, lead sheets, etc. and this book is (pun intended) hands down the best fake book I’ve ever used. It’s cleanly printed in a readable size and font. It has a big spiral binding that lays flat. It contains the best selection of Gershwin and Porter I’ve seen anywhere. It includes all lyrics AND the verses. It includes some jazzy pop tunes by Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt, Leonard Russell. You can get it on the Sher Music website; or (of course) new or used from Amazon. Check it out.

@wendy, I had to write and agree 100%!

I have gone through numerous real books, always realizing all the mistakes and questionable chord choices, and ending up transcribing myself what I needed, but this one has been correct every time!

Also one great thing in The Standards Real Book is that it has the ‘original’ changes (the ones that the composer actually meant) from the broadway show/ movie. Those are very interesting to check out, and compare to the changes we all play now. Jazz era has changed the way we play these songs, and you will be amazed to see what are the actual original chords. For example, check out ‘It Never Entered My Mind’ from the Standards Real Book.

Fun fact question: What is the original first chord of ‘Stella By Starlight’?


There are two “Real Books” on
-The Real Book, 6th Edition Plastic Comb – Sept. 1 2004
by [Hal Leonard Corp]
-The New Real book - Chuck Sher.
Is it the first one?

SBS: The oldest book I have - The Readers Digest Book of Best Loved Songs - has it in the key of G with Gdim as the first chord. ??

Hi @George_Miller ,

I would go with

  • The New Real Books vol. 1-3
  • The Standards Real Book

Those are shown to be most correct ones from all the real books.


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Hi George: There are lots of “real books,” which are really a take on fake books (just chords, melody and sometimes lyrics of varying quality.) The one I love so much is The Standards Real Book by Chuck Sher. It is available new and used on Amazon, but better yet, there is a free pdf version which I stumbled onto online here:

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Hi Wendy,

New student here, first post, I just wanted to thank you for the link you provided to The Standards Real Book. I just downloaded it. You made my day!

When Hayden says to go through your Real Book looking for the tunes you want to customize , it sounds like this is the one he means. If you happen to see this reply and you know he means a different one, please let me know, but I think this is the one.

Thanks again


Hi Brad, I’m glad you like it. There are a whole series of “Real Books” (which is a pun about fake books.) You can see some of them if you look on Amazon and a number of other websites. This, however, is still the very best I’ve come across. Enjoy!!!

A brief follow-up to Wendy’s comment…

Seventh String (the folks that produce Transcribe!) have a searchable database of all real books (there are dozens!) that is very helpful if you’re looking for a specific tune:

Fake Book Index

And, as Tuomo said, a lot of people like the Standards (Chuck Sher version) + all 3 volumes of “The New Real Book” (also Chuck Sher) as a comprehensive collection. There’s not a lot of overlap between those 4, and they cover just about everything.

Also noticed that nobody answered Tuomo’s question. I’ll bite (without looking)–Em7b5

Before I bought the standards real book (which I just did) I was looking to see if I could find an index of its tunes and couldn’t find an index from any of the booksellers. A searchable database to fakebook songs is not something I would have thought about let alone found without your tip. That is great! Thank you.