Guitar Book Library

This section is  an ever-updating collection of mini reviews and information about any guitar related books we can find and recommend. Under each book review will be an Amazon link, so you can click through to either order, or find out more detail.

New books will be added at the top, so the page will become like a chronological blog in its own right. (write, even!)

50 Years of Gretsch Electrics: Half a Century of White Falcons, Gents, Jets and Other Great Guitars

Introduced in 1954 as one of Gretsch’s Guitars of the Future, the White Falcon was an overwhelmingly impressive instrument. The influence of this spectacular new guitar spread to other models and guitar manufacturers. It was the dawn of a half a century of awe-inspiring guitars. This book compiles the best of Gretsch’s inventions over the past 50 years and tells the stories of their creation and the men who created them.


Gibson 335: Its History and Its Players

The book seems comprehensive and an enjoyable read if you are a Gibson 335 fan.
Certainly, it is comprehensive.


Ted McCarty’s Golden Era 1948-1966

Gibson Guitars: Ted McCarty’s Golden Era is a long overdue book that covers the world’s greatest period of guitar manufacturing. As CEO of Gibson Guitars from 1948 to 1966, Ted McCarty presided over the production of nearly one million instruments and amplifiers. 1950s Gibson Les Paul Standards, Flying Vs, Explorers, and ES-335s are considered to be some of the most valuable fretted instruments in the world. This book is Ted McCarty’s first and only complete biography, and a book that gives us a glimpse into a golden era of his factory and his loyal employees who made some of the world’s most desirable guitars. It features over 100 photographs, some from Ted’s personal archives and never before published. “Ted McCarty was the architect of a Golden period in Gibson’s history. During his 18-year tenure, he helped to reestablish the company’s historic leadership in the industry through a number of musical innovations that still resonate today.” Gibson Chairman and CEO Henry E. Juszkiewicz


Beauty of the ‘Burst: Gibson Sunburst Les Pauls from 1958 to 1960

This is hands down the best book on 58′-60′ ‘Bursts there is. Tons of info, gobs of gorgeous photos…you name it…its’ all here and then some. Price is also fair, for what you get…quite alot. This book completly documents 50 or so sunbursts with a front shot, back, close-up front and back head stock shot, and an angled shot of the top that best highlights the flame. All specs are recorded on each example (nut width, weight,etc,) If you have any other Burst books (Vic Dapras’and a couple other come to mind)you must get this one. Its’ as good as it gets (so far)


Moderne Guitar: Holy Grail of Vintage Guitars

A long awaited, thoroughly researched, fascinating and detailed study of the most elusive vintage electric guitar ever, the Gibson Moderne, covering it’s origins and many imitators. To those of us lucky enough to own one of the reissues of this mystical instrument, or indeed to anyone with any interest in vintage American guitars, this is an absolute “must have.”


The Gibson Electric Guitar Book

“Gibson Electrics” is a comprehensive, richly illustrated guide to Gibson electrics past and present. Starting with the ES-150 – generally acknowledged as the first commercially successful electric guitar – through to 335s, Les Pauls, SGs, Firebirds, and more, it is packed with facts, stories, and images that tell the story of Gibson’s great guitars and their most famous and influential players.

‘Sure there’s plenty of lovely pictures of Les Pauls, SGs and gorgeous archtops to drool over, but when you finally manage to concentrate on the text you’ll realise that one-time official Gibson historian Carter has given us an accessible, info-packed account of how the Big G has thrived for over 100 years without skimping on any details.’
Guitar & Bass, November/December 2007 –Guitar & Bass , November/December 2007


Classic Electrics: A Visual History of Great Guitars

This book is a great little pictorial guide. “Classic Electrics” is a richly illustrated exploration of the best solid-body and semi-acoustic electric guitars of the past 50 or so years. Each of the 350-plus guitars featured is represented by photos, specification boxes and descriptive text, and sometimes reproductions of period brochure and promotional shots.

Walter Carter is a songwriter, guitar historian and author, whose books include The Martin Book, The Gibson Electric Guitar Book and The Songwriter’s Guide To Collaboration.


Million Dollar Les Paul: In Search of the Most Valuable Guitar in the World

In the light of Les Paul’s sad death this week, exactly how did a batch of about 1,500 guitars produced at the end of the 1950s become for many players and collectors the most desirable electric guitars ever made? Through a series of interviews with players, collectors, guitar-makers, dealers, and others, “Million Dollar Les Paul” attempts to answer this crucial question. The Gibson Les Paul Standard, a solidbody electric guitar with mahogany body, two pickups, and a three-colour sunburst maple top, was made from 1958 to 1960. When players such as Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page began to play examples in the 1960s and 1970s, the legend of the ‘burst’ began. Who are the other musicians who play these hallowed instruments and who are the collectors who seek them?It seems only a matter of time before a ‘burst’ sells for $1 million. At present, the record hovers around half that, but as one prominent dealer admits: “We no longer say, ‘I don’t see how prices can go any higher.’ When it comes to sunburst Les Pauls, they always do.” Leading guitar historian Tony Bacon has written this non-technical new book in which he goes in search of individual examples of a guitar that originally sold for $280 and have now become worth a fortune. He delves into the science and attraction of the ‘flamed maple’ guitar and asks why so many players and collectors now bow down at the altar of the revered Gibson Les Paul Standard.


Gibson Les Paul Manual: How to Buy, Maintain and Set Up the Legendary Les Paul Electric Guitar

Introduced in 1952, the Gibson Les Paul has become the world’s second most popular electric guitar, favoured by legendary guitarists such as Paul McCartney, Mark Knopfler, Neil Young, Jimmy Page and Slash. Designed by the great musician and innovator, Les Paul, with help from Gibson craftsmen, this guitar has constantly evolved and in 2007 an all-digital model was launched. Today, while original models change hands for thousands of pounds, almost identical Epiphone and Gibson models are mass-produced for sale worldwide. The Gibson Les Paul remains a classic instrument and, with the help of this practical ‘how to’ manual, will last a lifetime.


Fender Stratocaster Manual: How to Buy, Maintain and Set Up the World’s Most Popular Electric Guitar

Leo Fender launched the Stratocaster electric guitar in 1954, as an upgrade to his revolutionary Telecaster. The ‘Strat’ – streamlined, chrome-plated, efficient, fast and sexy – soon gained icon status. Today, while original models change hands for thousands of dollars, almost identical Stratocasters are mass-produced by Fender USA for sale worldwide. The ‘Strat’ remains a low-maintenance ‘good little runner’ and, with the help of this practical ‘how to’ manual, will last a lifetime.


harmony guitars bookHarmony, The People’s Guitar

Harmony, the People’s Guitar written by Ron Rothman is a collection of articles, photos and catalogue information about the Harmony Guitar Company and the instruments they made from 1945-1973. It includes articles that have appeared in Rothman’s Guitars News and 20th Century Guitar Magazine and documents the instruments that have found their way into more homes than any other brands of American guitars combined. Rockets, Stratotones, Rebels, Sovereigns, Stellas, Basses and other Harmony instruments are detailed in this 101+ page book and it includes information on these instruments, along with color and B&W photos and catalog reprints. Preface by Charlie Subecz of the Harmony guitar company. Forward by Jay Pilzer, the Guild Guy. Read about Harmony Caribbeans, Rockets, Stellas, Archtops, Roy Smecks and Professional Guitars to name a few. Learn about Meteors, Sovereigns, Rebels, Stratotones, Basses and many of the other post-war Harmony Guitars. Find out how Harmony grew to be one of the most prolific manufactures of guitars in this Country, before they fell from grace in the mid 1970 s.

Harmony, The People’s Guitar

Gear Secrets of the Guitar Legends

Gear Secrets teaches guitarists what equipment their favourite players use, and more importantly, how to sound just like them. Drawing on interviews with 30 rock guitar legends, such as Kurt Cobain, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, and featuring rig diagrams, amplifier settings, and sound tips, Gear Secrets is the bible for rock guitar tone. The book also comes with a CD in which the authors demonstrate the sound you can achieve once you know the gear secrets of the greatest rock guitarists.


Billy F Gibbons: Rock + Roll Gearhead

A friend lent me this book a while ago, and I’m now getting my own copy. It’s a great pictorial record of the guitars and custom cars of ZZ Top guitar maestro, Billy Gibbons. Billy is well known as botha guitar and car collector, being very knowledgable in both arenas.

As the Amazon reviews say;

I had been considering buying this book for some time being as I’m a Z.Z. fan and a guitar lover but the price put me off a little. But I finally took the plunge..What a Book this is. First it is a BIG book, you will not carry this around in your pocket to read on the train. Like the other reveiws state this book is split into 3 parts B.G’S story , Cars and Guitars and as he got some guitars. Great pictures on semi glossy paper. I was interested in Billy and his guitars foremost but the Chapter and pictures of his cars is as equally interesting. If you are a Z.Z.Top fan this book is a must. If you are also interested in guitars and cars, well then that’s a bonus…..Let the Reverend WILLIE G educate you.


The Electric Guitar

Despised as an aberration when it appeared in the 1930s, the electric guitar won credibility by the 40s – and in the 50s it started to change the musical world. This is the story of how it was invented, how it developed and how it electrified popular music. Examples of the key models have been sourced, profiled and photographed to capture their design and character, and to explain how the way they were put together affects the way they play and sound. Profiles include pioneering models such as the Gibson ES150, classics like the Strat, Telecaster and Les Paul, the new generation Paul Reed Smith and the Parker Artist, plus revival and reissue instruments such as America’s Danelectro. The book also tells how each great guitarist, from Charlie Christian to Jimi Hendrix to Kurt Cobain, changed the way the instrument was used, and it includes a visual glossary, explaining each element that defines the sound of an electric guitar.

Dave Burrluck is technical adviser and writer of the new profiles for the book. Other contributors to the first edition include, Charles Shaar-Murray, John Seabury, Tony Bacon, Tom Wheeler, Douglas J Noble and Paul Day. Paul Trynka is the editor of the book, the founding editor of The Guitar Magazine and currently editorial director of Mojo magazine. He has published books on The Blues and on the History of Denim.


The Story of Paul A. Bigsby: Father of the Modern Electric Solid Body Guitar

A friend lent me this book last week, and I must say, it is a great read. Telling the story of a group of engineers and musicians in Southern California in the late 40’s, it evolves into the early history of the electric guitar. The three main players in the industry are all featured here; P.A. Bigsby, Leo Fender and Les Paul, but it was Bigsby who developed several of the features that Les Paul and Leo Fender went on to popularise, such as the 6 in a line, Stratocaster style headstock arrangment and through-neck construction.

Bigsby hand made all his guitars, and most of the early ones are featured here in great detail, such as the iconic Merle Travis guitar. The photography is great and the detail on each instrument is second to none.

I can highly recommend this book.


Neptune Bound: The Ultimate Danelectro Guitar Guide

You may have never heard of a Danelectro guitar, but Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton certainly have.

The unorthodox instruments — known for their unique design and prized for their clear, bell-like tone — belong in the arsenal of every rock guitarist from Aerosmith to ZZ Top.

And with the publication of “Neptune Bound,” Doug Tulloch has established himself as the world’s foremost expert on the classic instrument, a passion that has put him in the company of some of rock’s greatest guitarists.


SUPER SWEDE- Hagström Guitars 50 Yrs

Great new hardbound 193 page book about the collectable Swedish Guitars, Hagström Guitars.

Hagström guitars hold a place in musicians´ hearts.

Many of the world´s greatest played Hagström instruments, from ABBA to Zappa. Other international star users are Jimi Hendrix and Elvis Presley.


The Stratocaster Chronicles: Celebrating 50 Years of the Fender Strat

The world’s most famous guitar has a golden anniversary in 2004 and this official, authorised book/CD package offers the best photos, quotes, facts and sounds to properly celebrate this achievement. From Buddy Holly to Jimi Hendrix to today’s hottest players, the Fender Stratocaster defines rock ‘n’ roll for generations of fans and players.


Pink Floyd: the Black Strat: A History of David Gilmour’s Black Fender Stratocaster

“The Black Strat” is the first and only accurate and knowledgeable account of David Gilmour’s favourite Stratocaster guitar. Written by Phil Taylor – David’s personal guitar technician since 1974 – to coincide with the release of the long awaited and much requested Fender ‘David Gilmour Signature Strat’: an instrument replicating the look, set-up, sound and feel of David’s famous guitar as it is today.

The chronological story begins with David Gilmour joining Pink Floyd early in 1968, his guitar at that time, his subsequent instruments leading to the purchase of the Black Strat in 1970, and the other guitars that have come and gone. This book details all of the changes and modifications made to the Black Strat, its use on Pink Floyd tours and iconic albums, David’s solo projects, and various guest appearances throughout the years.


Totally Guitar

This book has a wealth of great guitar information. Over 600 pages of guitar history, playing styles, pictures, and some information on rarely seen makes and models of guitars from all eras. As the Amazon reviews quite rightly say:

This book is a real bargain…not only is it excellent value at (rrp £20 – cheaper if bought on Amazon), it is also full of fascinating and useful information.