How did a small, humble folk instrument become an American icon? How did the guitar come to represent freedom, the open road, protest and rebellion, the blues, youth, lost love, and sexuality? In this intensely personal memoir and informative history, Tim Brookes recounts his quest to build the perfect guitar. Pairing up with a master artisan from the Green Mountains of Vermont, Brookes sees how a rare piece of cherry wood is hued, sawn, dovetailed, and worked with rasps and files. As his prized instrument takes shape, he narrates the long and winding history of the guitar in the United States. Arriving with conquistadors and the colonists, the guitar has found itself in an extraordinary variety of hands: miners and society ladies, lumberjacks and presidents' wives. In time, the guitar became America's vehicle of self-expression, its modern soundtrack.
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"The guitar is an icon of Americana, whether in the hands of cowboy singers, Hawaiian slide players, or heavy metal shredders. Tim Brookes's cultural history of the instrument is moved along by a personal narrative: a description of the six months in which a master luthier built Brookes his first custom guitar. It's a tad surprising that this very American story is told in a British accent (he's an ex-pat living in Vermont), but Brookes is the perfect reader for his own material--passionate, knowledgeable, and funny. There are some unnecessary tangents and tenuous arguments, but Brookes has a musician's ear for storytelling, a dry sense of humor, and some terrific turns of phrase. D.B. (c) AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine"
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