Legendary Guitars

An Illustrated Guide

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Pub Date 13 Oct 2020 | Archive Date 17 Nov 2020

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Legendary Guitars guides you through the electric guitars of the 1950s and ‘60s and the culture, styles, and music that shaped them.

“Finding ways to use the same guitar people have been using for 50 years, to make sounds no one has heard before, is truly what gets me off.”  —Jeff Beck

Legendary Guitars: An Illustrated Guide recaps how the great instruments created and produced between 1950 and 1969 went on to define the design, looks, and playability of today’s electric guitars.
Legendary Guitars draws direct lines between the mid-century originals and many of today’s most highly-prized instruments. Alongside classic originals, you’ll see great examples of more recent instruments, showing how today’s guitar makers have produced fresh interpretations that draw on the venerable ‘50s and ‘60s templates. The guide details everything from highly accurate (and highly priced) vintage remakes and artist models to the broader influences and mashup qualities of modern retro creations

The 1950s marked the birth of so many now-classic electric guitars: from the Gibson Les Paul and the Fender Telecaster (as seen with Bill Haley & His Comets and with Little Richard’s band) to the Gretsch 6120 and the Gibson Flying V (twanged by Duane Eddy and touted by Albert King). 
In the 1960s, players pushed the sound of the electric guitar—bending, distorting, and overloading the instrument to within an inch of its life—all to fire some of the most extraordinary music ever created, not least by Jimi Hendrix with an upside-down Fender Stratocaster, Eric Clapton with a psychedelic Gibson SG, and George Harrison with a 12-string Rickenbacker.
The work of more than 50 guitar brands—past and present—is highlighted, including Airline, Ampeg, Antoria, Aria, Baldwin, Bigsby, Burns, Coral, Danelectro, Eko, Epiphone, Fender, Framus, Futurama, Gibson, Goya, Gretsch, Grimshaw, Guild, Guyatone, Hagstrom, Harmony, Hofner, Hopf, Ibanez, Kawai, Kay, Kent, Kustom, La Baye, Magnatone, Messenger, Micro-Frets, Mosrite, National, Rickenbacker, Silvertone, Stratosphere, Supro, Teisco Del Rey, Tokai, Vega, Vox, Wandre, Watkins, and Yamaha.
Alongside the eye-popping guitar photographs is a unique collection of classic advertisements, period catalogs, and other rare memorabilia. Legendary Guitars: An Illustrated Guide also contains a chronological narrative of world events that places these remarkable instruments in the context of two decades of mesmerizing contrasts and revolutionary invention.

Legendary Guitars takes you on an illustrated journey through the guitars and culture that drove the sound of rock ‘n’ roll, blues, and country, from 1950 to present day.
Legendary Guitars guides you through the electric guitars of the 1950s and ‘60s and the culture, styles, and music that shaped them.

“Finding ways to use the same guitar people have been using for 50...

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EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9780785836155
PRICE $24.99 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

As a guitarist for more than 11 years i was truly intrigued to read more information and early history for brands such as Fender,Gibson,Gretsch.
Lovely to see my favorite SRV signature model that is in my heart for a long time.
I must admit that I'm more familiar with more recent history of guitars - after the Jem model arrived and i was thrilled to fill the gaps in my guitar knowledge , also i am fascinated to see the evolution of whammy bars,pickups (single coil,humbuckers) ,body tipes and wood type change and forms, neck types and joint variations....all of this is a balm to the soul of a gutar geek wanting to know more and more.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read all this information gathered in one place and presented in the most intriguing way.

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I signed up for this book so my 13 year old guitar crazy grandson could read it. He loved it. He said the guitars in there are really cool. High praise from a 13 year old.

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Legendary Guitars is an Illustrated guide to the guitars of the 50s and 60s. The book is full of great photos and great information about the history of all the different guitars that were put to good use in the 50s and 60s - when people were sick of watching TV and looking for new ways to entertain themselves.   In the 50s, teenagers longed for Pop Music.  "Pop Music's shiniest icon was the electric guitar." In the 60s, it was all about distortion to create "the most extraordinary music ever created."  The book gives a bit of history of what was going on in each of the years and then dives into the guitars from each of the years from 1950 - 1969.  It is cool to see a bit of evolution amongst the guitar makers happening throughout the two decades.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

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This was a really fun book to look through. I really enjoyed reading about and seeing all the amazing guitars that were featured in this book. A must have for any guitar lover!

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One big problem with this book - after looking and reading about all the beautiful guitars in it, I want to buy a bunch of them. Anyone spot me a few hundred thousand?!

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Beautiful coffee table book that catalogues just about every electric guitar made during the 1950s and 60s, with more information about each guitar than you'll ever need, right down to detailed specs like pick-up types, knob placement, finishes, even original prices. Although the book covers the history of the electric guitar through the end of the 1960s, it really is up to date since so many of today's guitars are based on the classic guitars of the era.

In addition to a stunning collection of actual guitars that would add up to an enviable museum collection, all of which are handsomely photographed, there are many examples of original ephemera from the period, like ads, catalogues, posters, and other marketing material. As a collector of vintage ephemera and posters, my only beef is that these are not large enough, at least not in the PDF that I reviewed thanks to NetGalley.

The year by year history of guitars through these two decades is ingeniously organized to take us from the most important and innovative brands and model, then to next level guitar makers, and on down to the more esoteric and eclectic of guitars that have become retro-chic precisely because of their relative obscurity -- if you have your own collection of guitars, you're going to have Strats, Teles, and Les Pauls at the heart of your collection but you'll also have your pet Danelectro or Silvertone or Flying V, and this book covers them all and everything in between.

Kudos to the author for not overlooking the great hollow-body and semi-solid jazz guitars that were so beautiful (and if you could hear them, sounded so good). And doubly so for all the outrageous styles and finishes that became more and more prevalent as the 60s progressed. The well-known players who played these guitars are well chronicled as well -- well, maybe not as thoroughly as the gear itself, but well enough.

The chronology suggests that the annual recap of historical events and milestones in pop culture would fit in just as ingeniously, but it's actually quite a curious set of facts, some of them coming completely out of left field -- like the 1958 launching of a rocket to the moon that misses its mark, or Australia going decimal in 1966, or the 1952 introduction of Mr. Potato Head. Occasionally, the historical items coincide with developments in the guitar world, especially when crazy design elements echo the space age. But it's hit or miss, though on a small enough scale to not detract or distract from the main subject.

Overall, a beautiful guitar book that would be welcomed by any guitar enthusiast, even an acoustic player like me. Not sure how it will fare with non-guitarists, but fans of the well known rock and jazz guitarists who used these guitars should be well interested at least in the great photos, if not necessarily the detailed gearhead text.

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