Upon reflection, this book has proved to be a HUGE disappointment. I'd label it a classic `coffee table book' if only it was possible to have it on a coffee table, open at interesting pages. But it isn't. Let me explain:
First, the book is very small in terms of its format size ... 21.3 cm deep, 11.3 cm wide and 3cm deep. The 367 pages have a glued binding. Each page features a high quality photo of each featured guitar alongside a brief outline of their history. The problem is, if you find a guitar that you really want to focus on, you daren't fully open the book or you'll almost certainly split the binding. This means that you have to read the book with what amounts to a powerful spring in your hands which is forever wanting to close. As the book is printed on good quality paper, it is also unusually heavy. If you open the pages through more than a right angle, you risk cracking the spine.
That summarises my first areas of disappointment. But even more than that, I have to question the range of guitars that Walter Carter has chosen to include. Here's the list of makes .... I'll not list the one-offs or specialist makers such as Aria, Burns, Danelecro etc. as they only get one or two mentions. These are the makers who have a substantial range of instruments illustrated and described:
SOLID ELECTRICS Fender Gibson Gretsch Ibanez Music Man PRS
Those who get several mentions (but by no means a comprehensive selection) are : Guild Jackson Rickenbacker Vox Yamaha
If you study that list, something should hit you, Here are just a few hints:
Epiphone acoustics are covered in some detail, but only one solid is described. Anyone who is interested in electric guitars knows that the Epi range of electrics is huge and that many professional players prefer Epi's to Gibsons. Also, although Epis are usually thought of as inferior versions of Gibsons, many instruments in their range have distinctive differences. The same can be said for Squier guitars.
Only one Martin hollowbody is described and Martin instruments are probably the most famous and sought-after acoustics in the world.
Yamaha solids are covered in a bit of detail and yet only two hollowbodies are described. Similarly, Yamahas have a HUGE reputation and following in the fields of jazz and blues and yet barely rate more than a few mentions.
Washburn rate one or two mentions, but nothing like as many as should be guaranteed by their range of instruments. Likewise, makes such as Tokai, Vintage etc. either get no mention or just the odd one or two.
I hope you see my point and the reason for my extreme disappointment. This book needed to be a bigger, full-sze format with a much better thought-out selection of instruments. If this is an area of interest for you (and I'm guessing that it is if you're reading this review), then from experience and ownership, I recommend the following books as being much, MUCH better and they're also full size:
GUITAR: MUSIC, HISTORY PLAYERS BY RICHARD CHAPMAN AND SHARON LUCAS An unusual book (read the Amazon description and reviews) in that it focuses on guitarists and then, by association, it describes their preferred guitars. This isn't really a history of the guitar but is still an excellent read.
THE CLASSIC GUITARS OF THE 50S AND 60S BY TONY BACON Covering both electric and acoustic guitars of this 20 year period, the photographs, details, descriptions and associated illustrations are excellent. A really fascinating book.
THE GUITAR BY NICK FREETH AND CHARLES ALEXANDER Covering both electric and acoustic guitars from the very earliest days of their creation, right through to modern times, this large-format book is gold-dust. Absolutely brilliant. I had trouble finding it in this country, but eventually imported it via Amazon from America. (Ridiculous price at that time - less than £10 for a heavyweight tome of 320 pages crammed with fabulous detail). IF you can find it and IF you're interested in the whole history of guitars, this is the book to look for. BUT BEWARE of the small format reprint, that is as hard to use as `Classic Electrics'. That mini-version is also full of formatting errors in which text is badly cropped.
CHET ATKINS: ME AND MY GUITARS I bought this on a whim and was extremely pleased with it. The book does what the title says - Chet described his life in relation to each of the guitars that he has owned or helped to develop. The style and detail are excellent and the photographs are superb. The content and history is limited to just one man, of course --- but what a history and what a man!
TOTALLY GUITAR BY TONY BACON More of a compendium of useful facts, advice and histories rather than an outright history of the guitar. Rather than describe the book here, I advise you to search the Amazon site for it and to read the excellent review by Mr. G. Bonney "George Bonney" which gives masses of accurate detail.
Seems to be mainly a fatter, smaller version of Tony Bacon's illustrated encyclopaedia of electric guitars with not so many guitars in it. Divided into solids and semis by A-Z also makes it less varied to look at than the Bacon book's A-Z that takes you from Gibson solids to Gretsch semis
Much more affordable tho
Pics & opinions about the guitars don't seem to be any dffferent from the Bacon book but format isn't so appealing (it's a brick of a book, not an album-cover 12" square lovely)
Shame that no interesting recent guitars - Italia, Duesenbreg, Hutchins, Danelctro 'reissues' or even the PRS since all their guitars stopped looking exactly the same (eg the starla) made it in. Mercifully few stupid pointy metal guitars made the cut, tho - thanks
I guess they read "classic" as "classy" and I read it as "that's so beautiful its image will be burned into my retinas for life" (hence my question with guitar books and their endless deserts of PRS)...