INVENTING THE AMERICAN GUITAR: THE PRE-CIVIL WAR INNOVATIONS OF C.F. MARTIN AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES
EDITED BY ROBERT SHAW AND PETER SZEGO
Hal Leonard 9781458405760. Hardcover, 310 pp., $50. (Hal Leonard, P.O. Box 13819, Milwaukee, WI 53213, www.halleonard.com.)
If you love old guitars, you’d better clear some space on your coffee table, because you’ll want this gorgeous, thorough, essential book. While most of us in bluegrass think of prewar as meaning pre-WWII, this book covers the pre-Civil War years when the look, sound, and shape of the American guitar took hold, mostly due to the innovations and brilliance of C.F. Martin and other luthiers such as James Ashborn.
The book includes essays by the leading scholars of the nineteenth century guitar that put the guitar in the context of the years 1840-1860. But it’s the professional photography, illustrations, historical drawings, and diagrams that show the beauty and lost-world quality of these instruments. It also includes exact dimensions and maker information of most surviving guitars. This will long be the definitive text and reference for the nineteenth century American guitar and well worth the price for a work of such quality and beauty.CVS