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Review: The Ultimate Guitar Book

Review: The Ultimate Guitar Book

Tony Bacon

Alfred A. Knopf, 1991. 192 pp.

ISBN 0-394-58955-6

Originally published in American Lutherie #30, 1992 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Three, 2004



Well, the ultimate guitar book is finally here! Or so it would seem from the title of Tony Bacon’s book. Fortunately for those of us who are the true fans of the instrument in all its many forms, this book comes very close to fulfilling the promise of its title. It can best be described as a comprehensive visual reference work that features some of the finest instruments ever produced. The history of the guitar is told through many very fine photographs along with profiles of many of those responsible for its development. All of the great makes are represented here along with some not so great and often bizarre.

The book begins by covering some of the modern guitar’s earliest ancestors from the late-16th and early-17th centuries. These early instruments were characterized by ornate roses, multiple courses, gut frets, and deeply arched backs. As the instrument developed, much of the ornateness disappeared. Most interesting is a 1680s Stradivari that is elegant in its simplicity when compared to the earlier instruments. When seen in this context, it’s also easy to understand the significance of the remarkable evolutionary developments brought about by Antonio de Torres.

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