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Inventing the American Guitar: The Pre-Civil War Innovations of C.F. Martin and His Contemporaries Hardcover – October 1, 2013


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Inventing the American Guitar: The Pre-Civil War Innovations of C.F. Martin and His Contemporaries + C.F. Martin & Co. (Images of America) + The Martin Ukulele: The Little Instrument That Helped Create a Guitar Giant
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Hal Leonard; 2013 edition edition (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1458405761
  • ISBN-13: 978-1458405760
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 1.1 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #369,681 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Like a well-crafted handmade guitar, Inventing the American Guitar is meticulously researched, fastidiously constructed and majestically presented. It should please anyone with more than a casual interest in acoustic guitars, be that a player, a luthier or collector. --The Oklahoman

To start with the conclusion, this is hands-down one of the all-around best books on guitars ever published. From the scope of the coverage to the quality of the text and photos, the elegant design to the overall packaging, it's simply glorious -- an example all other guitar books should aspire to. --Vintage Guitar

''If you're fascinated by the craftsmanship of acoustic guitars, a new coffee table book titled Inventing the American Guitar will keep you company on a long winter's night.'' --CMT Edge

''This book is a great present for the serious guitarist or aficionado, especially one who is a fan of the Martin guitar.'' --Portland Book Review

''Christmas time is coming … and this new book, Inventing The American Guitar, may well be an ideal present for those interested in the history of the American flat-top guitar.'' --Bluegrass Today, November 24

''Like a well-crafted handmade guitar, this book is meticulously researched, fastidiously constructed and majestically presented. It should please anyone with more than a casual interest in acoustic guitars, be that a player, a luthier or collector.'' --The Oklahoman, December 1st

''A comprehensive look at the history of Martin - and, by extension, of the great American acoustic guitar - with beautiful photographs and illuminating essays … An essential visual and intellectual journey for anyone who loves guitars.'' --Acoustic Guitar, February 2015

''Like a well-crafted handmade guitar, this book is meticulously researched, fastidiously constructed and majestically presented. It should please anyone with more than a casual interest in acoustic guitars, be that a player, a luthier or collector.'' --The Oklahoman, December 1st

About the Author

Editor PETER SZEGO is a scholar, collector, and player of 19th-century American banjos and guitars. Szego and Antiques Road Show USA appraiser Fred Oster of Vintage Instruments in Philadelphia co-chaired the Early Martin Guitar Conferences that led to the creation of this book, and Szego has headed the team of scholars who contributed essays for the project.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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A reference guide worth having in your library!
Kathryn A. Marcum
This is a very interesting book and important source of information regarding early Martin guitars.
Wood Junky
Fantastic... interesting, informative and well written as well as beautifully illustrated!
Susan J Sheets

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Susan J Sheets on October 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Fantastic... interesting, informative and well written as well as beautifully illustrated! The history of this instrument-producing family is fascinating. Along with the beautiful photos and drawings, it is perfect book for a guitar lovers to read and savor. Would make a wonderful gift.
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Beautiful, maybe the finest, photos of incredible guitars are handsomely presented in this book. The photos of early C.F.Martin guitars, alone, was well worth the book-price of "admission" in my view.

The book offers "not-too technical" reading about how Mr. Martin evolved from 18th & 19th century European and Spanish guitar-building influences to lead us through his experiments to craft and perfect "America's Guitar", the Dreadnaught; as he escaped the European Cast system (via the Atlantic Ocean, like millions of others) and wholly immerse (commercially & personally) into the new nation's booming cultural melting-pot of NYC to found (in 1833) his namesake company (now 180 years of age and going strong), anchoring ultimately in beautiful 19th century Nazareth, Pennsylvania.

Yes, I enjoyed the book cover to cover, but I am Martin Guitar-biased. The contributing writers were not attempting to write the full history of the C.F.Martin Guitar Company and they did give due-credit to predecessor Historians for their excellent earlier works. The contributing writers wrote to shed light on the un-seen physics and engineering within the early guitars and they let the readers find the suprise, spicy tidbits of peoples' lives along the way too.

No regrets with this book; except, as with all good books, the come to an end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sandyjo on March 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum is totally fantastic. I recommend a visit (even if you don't play the guitar, or like me are marginally talented in the music arena!).

I assume these instruments sound wonderful, but I really loved that they were so beautiful to just look at and enjoy the craftsmanship with the inlaid designs and choice of special woods.

I recommend this book to anyone who plays the guitar, is interested in music and American history, and just loves music!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gismo Egberti on January 5, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Homage to great guitars, great design, and one of the raw materials with which many a wonderful song has come to life. Couple this with Martin Guitar book about the heart of the maker, and the two-volume Martin A History/A Technical Manual, and you will have a most complete understanding of these instruments which are works of art and tools of artists simultaneously.
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This book tracks C. F. Martin's guitar building, based on a number of guitars that were assembled into a temporary collection and examined by a team of learned Martin experts. Its far more interesting than I expected it to be. As a guitar maker, I enjoyed seeing the little drawings of brace patterns that Martin tried and abandoned before he settled on the X brace pattern as we know it today. Martin learned to build in the Germanic style using ladder bracing, then switched to the Spanish style using fan bracing, then tried a variety of patterns that led to X bracing. In fact, the company continued to use fan bracing on their smallest guitars long after the X brace was standardized for larger instruments. C. F. managed to keep his company together through at least two depressions and the Civil War. (This deeply interested me, even though the authors' didn't dwell on it for long. The Feds made no attempt to alleviate monetary hard times as they saw it as none of their business, yet depressions still came to a natural end. The Feds participation in the Great Depression and the recession of 2008 cost our country a lot of money yet didn't speed up recovery much, if at all. The Feds hesitate to regulate the causes of depressions, but can't do much once they set in. Something is wrong here.) It happened that I also read DeVoto's "Year of Decision, 1847" at this time, which set up the National back drop for Martin's life in great detail. I also read Philip Gura's "C. F. Martin & His Guitars, 1796-1873" (both excellent reads), which is more biography oriented. In fact, the authors of "Inventing" consider their book to be part 2 of Gura's story, so they work very well together. "Inventing the American Guitar" is a big, beautiful book that every vintage acoustic guitar junkie should read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richard Rasso on March 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wonderfully illustrated. Scholarly presentation without stuffiness. Excellent photography. A gem! A perfect gift for anyone interested in the history of American guitars.
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This book is far more than illustrated. It is worth to buy it only for the beautifull pictures that are taken from beautifull guitars. Lots of description of the historical circumstances during the developement of the Martin X-bracing makes a second reason to spend your money. At the end of the book we find exact plans of some guitars. I expected some more, but the idea might have been to show the end of a process.
There is also a very differend reason to buy a book like this: Someone did a lot of work and we can support him or them in a such easy and simple way when we spend our money for this. Perhaps we encourage them doing so in the future.

Gerd Nikolaiski, guitarmaker
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Inventing the American Guitar: The Pre-Civil War Innovations of C.F. Martin and His Contemporaries
This item: Inventing the American Guitar: The Pre-Civil War Innovations of C.F. Martin and His Contemporaries
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