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Review: With Strings Attached: The Art and Beauty of Vintage Guitars

Review: With Strings Attached: The Art and Beauty of Vintage Guitars

by Jonathan Kellerman

ISBN: 978-0345499783

Ballantine Books 2008

Originally published in American Lutherie #101, 2010

Best-selling novelist Jonathan Kellerman is also well-known for his guitar collection, particularly his affinity for the acoustic Hawaiian guitars of Knutsen and Weissenborn. Photos of those guitars make up a significant portion of With Strings Attached, but there are plenty of other unanticipated highlights among the book’s 344 pages.

We’ve all seen books filled with fine guitars from impressive collections. The photos of Kellerman’s guitars by Jonathan Exley are exquisite, and the book certainly lives up to its subtitle, The Art and Beauty of Vintage Guitars, on the strength of photos alone. But what sets this book apart are — just as you would expect from a novelist — the stories.

Much of this reviewer’s work was done for him in the introductions by Andy Summers (guitarist with The Police) and Kellerman’s son Jesse (also a novelist) and Kellerman himself. Summers tells of a visit to the studio that houses the collection. “Jon began telling me about them,” Summers writes. “For every guitar, he had a great story.... Each guitar in Jon’s collection seemed to have a true and unique character, which — to me, anyway — is the mark of a great instrument.”

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