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The Story of Paul A. Bigsby: Father of the Modern Electric Solid Body Guitar Hardcover – 30 Apr 2009


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Gretsch Enterprises; Har/Com edition (30 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615243045
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615243047
  • Product Dimensions: 26 x 2.4 x 32.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 302,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By bobw on 15 Jan. 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book for anyone intereseted in the genesis of the most influential instrument of the last century, the electric guitar.

It's a great picture book with examples of many rare - often unseen - instruments, but it's also a clear window into the life and work of Southern Califonia's other electronic and muscial pioneer.

There's no doubt as to Leo Fender's extraordinary contribution to instruments and amplification. Sixty years on, everybody is still replicating, and nobody has bettered, his work. To have got it so right so early is truly remarkable.

But this book leaves you wondering just how much inspriation Leo Fender might have drawn from Paul Bigsby, whose key work is documented to precede Fender's. Many of Fender's design details seem to stem from Bigsby's work, and they were both supplying the same local market and musicians - maninly Western Swing players at first.

Physical attributes like pickup design, materials and appointments; aesthetic considerations like body and headstock shape and neck profile - many seem to stem not from Fender but from Bigsby. His adherence to very well-seasoned hard rock and bird's eye maple necks - which in my opinion are an even more important sound differentiator between early Fender guitars and later ones and contemproary Gibsons than the pickups, themselves exceptional - also predated and maybe even drove Fender down the same path.

Nor were guitars the only thing Paul Bigsby did and loved. The book shows he was a real polymath too, which makes for a good read. An essential part of any serious reference library on guitars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Peter Clifton on 20 April 2009
Format: Hardcover
An entertaining and informative read with a lot of good quality and interesting photos. Seems like Leo had selective memory loss when asked about the origin of some of the 'Fender' characteristics. I bought my first Bigsby vibrato in 1961 and didn't realise they were assembled in his garage back then. PA was certainly a superb engineer, and someone I would love to have talked to, back in the day. One of the true originators and a remarkable man.
If you are a guitar nut, you've got to have this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First, let me mention this book's weaknesses - and there are a few.

To begin with, there isn't a whole lot of detail about Bigsby's tools, construction methods, etc. I think guitar builders and techs would have preferred more of that. A little more about the relationship between Bigsby and Leo Fender and Les Paul would have been welcome, too.

I would also have liked a little more about the musicians who used the guitars, some thoughts on how the different instruments sounded, and some pointers to recordings of the guitars. All in all the text is a little thin, and this is mainly a picture book.

But the pictures are something else. This is a large book to start with. But when you get a three-page fold-out picture of a guitar, the photo ends up being almost as large as the instrument itself, which is exactly what you want. There's no squinting over wee photos in this book. The Bigsby guitars are almost as large as life. And that alone makes this worth every penny of the price.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful in depth study of a man who was at the forefront of modern electric guitar technology, producing some innovative products from his garage/workshop that have influenced guitar builders and players for 6 decades. If you are a country music fan in particular, as they provided his main client base, there are fascinating anecdotes from Merle Travis, Hank Thompson and many others. Also covered is the contentious issue of the single sided headstock ~ did Leo steal the design from Paul? There's some interesting evidence here, though this will run and run....
One of the great joys of this book are the illustrations, many in two page fold out format and many photographs of players, products and the Bigsby's family life. There is a cd of PA's recorded letters ~ fascinating stuff. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone interested in the development of the modern electric guitar, Andy Babiuk having done his usual comprehensive coverage of such an interesting man.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 16 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Major breakthrough and Gorgeous Layout 6 Feb. 2009
By Brad Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I saw this book at a trade show.It's unbelievable. All color, with fold-out 3-page spreads of the most rare and amazing guitars from the 40's and 50's. Bigsby pre-dates Fender and Gibson. Is he the father of... This book supports the claim. Whooa. This author knows his stuff(he wrote Beatles Gear book - check that out as well). Well-researched and as sexy as a guitar book can get when it comes to design and photography. Well worth the price. Thank you Mr. Babiuk.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The Story Of Paul A. Bigsby: The Father Of The Modern Electric Solidbody Guitar 3 Mar. 2009
By Jane W. Hembree - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is the way to write a book. Author Andy Babiuk gives the reader two great options: read casually, flipping through the pages full of pictures and captions, or, when in a more serious mood, become a research historian and learn about a missing link in guitar history. Bigsby is more than a metaphor for a great vibrato tailpiece; Bigsby is also a highly collectible guitar brand. Buy this book, you won't be disappointed.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Great Book, BUT........ 7 Aug. 2009
By R. N. Lackey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
First, even after the criticisms I offer, I would certainly buy this book again! The pictures are wonderful; the text is informative and the anecdotes are superb.

That being said, I am very disappointed there is no technical information on the guitars of P A Bigsby. An example of this is the "Hank Garland" guitar. There are 2 mentions of the fact it is only Bigsby known with 2 blade switches, however, there is no mention of what the switches actually do. The author doesn't give such specifications as width of neck or scale length. As one who is very interested in the electronics of these guitars, I was surprised to see no mention of the type of magnet he used in his pickups (ceramic, alnico or ?), type of wire or impedance. Some more technical info would have been nice for us "gear geeks."

There were some pictures of the undersides of some of his pedal steels, but not detailed enough to examine the intricate construction of his mechanism. Having never had opportunity to meet the man, this book does give a little insight into him and his wonderful world of musical instruments.

If you are looking for technical information, may this caveat be your warning, but it's a great read and the pictures are beautiful.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A must have for the avid guitar buff! 2 April 2009
By Billfish - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I was very impressed with the authors attention to detail about this interesting multi-talented individual P.A. Bigsby. Excellent photos thoughout the book plus an abundance of first hand interviews with Bigsby's daughter. This is an excellent book pointing out relavent details of the early beginings of the history of the electric guitar and P.A. Bigsby's contribution. A must have book for the avid guitar buff!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Great Gift Book 9 April 2009
By Kerry L. Caldwell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this as a gift for my father who spent most of his life as a professional guitar player and worked in the retail music business. He found lots of names of people he knew in the book. He read it cover to cover in short order and found it very enjoyable. This book is a great choice for someone who has spent a lifetime as a guitar player.
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