Monday, June 16, 2008

Book review: Guitars: A Celebration of Pure Mojo

By David Schiller

I came across this new book and I thought I would do my first book review. I know, it's not really the theme of this blog, but if you're like me, and god help you if you are, you live and breathe all things "guitar" and you've probably got a few books lying around. I'm fairly certain that every relative of mine has bought me at least one guitar related book over the years at Christmas or birthdays.

Guitars: A Celebration of Pure Mojo is a surprisingly cool book. At first I thought it was going to be one of those fluffy little books you find up by the cash register at Barnes and Noble...you know those smaller books that make bad gifts, never get read, and somehow end up in the bathroom. It's not a large book by dimensions...it's only 4" x 6" in size, but it's thick (320 color pages) and full of every cool guitar you could ever dream of owning. And the content goes deep. Author David Schiller has somehow managed to compile sections on every category of guitar, from classic icons to classical harp guitars. The book starts off with a great intro called "The 6-String Spell"...something we can all relate to. As Schiller says, "Even the cheapest guitar can possess mojo." If you've read some of the entries in this blog, you know that not all of the guitars I've owned have been expensive collectors. So I can definitely relate to that theory.

What's interesting is that this isn't just an impressive photo gallery of great guitars, although there are over 500 photos. For instance, in the section on archtops you'll find a condensed history of archtops, great photos of a variety of these instruments, as well as an explanation of how an archtop works. There are celebrity instruments, like a really clear photo of Willie Nelson's Trigger, and there are exotics like the Rickenbacker Light Show guitar and my favorite, the Vox Mando-Guitar.

Another thing I found to be of note is that this book is extremely contemporary. These aren't the same old photos of Jaco's bass and the guitar that Hendrix lit on fire. You'll find custom instruments by Linda Manzer that I just saw online last week for the first time. You'll see custom creations from Martin that seemingly just came out this year. There are the usual Teles and Strats, but there is also an obscure '70s Gibson Mark 53, which had some sort of plastic sound hole and weird bridge, and it reminded me that, "Oh yeah, I used to have one of those. There's another story for my blog."

If you are looking for a nice addition to your guitar library or a great gift for a guitarist that won't end up in the bathroom (the book, not the guitarist), be sure to check out Guitars: A Celebration of Pure Mojo by David Schiller.

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