- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (June 6, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743266366
- ISBN-13: 978-0743266369
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #280,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Clapton's Guitar: Watching Wayne Henderson Build the Perfect Instrument Paperback – June 6, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
People will go to great lengths to get master craftsman Wayne Henderson to build them an instrument. If you're an award-winning journalist like St. John and you want to expedite the process, you write a book about Henderson that's equal parts travelogue, biography and ode to the old-fashioned trade of making top-notch guitars. Upon learning that Eric Clapton has been on Henderson's waiting list for 10 years, St. John sets out to learn about the little-known man behind the instruments every guitarist knows. He visits Henderson's Virginia home, shadowing the artist while he builds guitars, plays "old time music" concerts and doesn't build Clapton's guitar. Along the way, he finds answers to questions such as which is the best wood for guitar making (Brazilian rosewood) and how much the 1939 Martin guitar Clapton played on Unplugged was auctioned for ($700,000). When St. John finally helps cajole Henderson into building two guitars for Clapton (one to be auctioned for charity), Henderson's and St. John's expertise shine through. St. John's descriptions of Henderson choosing wood, making a dovetail neck joint or whittling bracings for the guitar-top are as detailed, refined and playful as the instruments Henderson creates. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Only a guitar book in the sense that The Orchid Thief is only a book about gardening. St. John makes the case for the transformative power of certain objects and the not-so-quaint notion of craftsmanship." -- Allen Barra, American Heritage
"Clapton's Guitar delivers a fascinating tale that's bound to leave you longing for a Henderson of your own." -- Southern Living
"St. John . . . has created a memorable portrait of a likable, self-effacing craftsman at work. St. John writes, 'Some people simply have the gift of being able to make a piece of wood sing.' He doesn't come out and say it, but you know he's thinking it: Henderson is God." -- David Kelly, The New York Times Book Review
"Clapton's Guitar takes the reader on a craftsman's journey that [began] when . . . Eric Clapton first picked up a Henderson guitar." -- The Wall Street Journal
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Top customer reviews
It is extremely well written; interspersed with funny anecdotes, technical details, personal perspective, and no shortage of information on the history of American made steel string guitars for the last 100 years. Martin in particular.
As a studying/beginning luthier I really enjoyed the side discussions on wood, Wayne's shop and techniques, and anything else in the building area.
Anyone interested in Martin guitars will no doubt find a wealth of history and discussion on the topic. Including a really nicely done appendix and catalog of Martin info and guitar terms.
If you enjoy Wayne Henderson's music and work you'll enjoy learning more about him as a person.
While Clapton is mentioned in the title there isn't as much about Clapton per se. Certainly some interesting tidbits but the focus of the book isn't really on Clapton or his guitars so much as the author's personal experiences that result from Clapton's guitars.
All that said I think most people would award 5 stars and move on at this point. I'm dinging a star off and here's why.
The one thing I found exceptionally irritating is the overboard gushing about how great Wayne Henderson and Martin guitars are. Once or twice is fine, but there is a repeated "best builder in the world", best guitars in the world mantra almost every chapter that frankly gets really old, fast.
I have no doubt Henderson is a fine builder. I'm also happy St. John has great appreciation for Wayne, but the book comes off as pretentious hero worship after a certain point.
For mass manufactured guitars, Martin makes a fine one. Again I'm happy St John loves Martin guitars and his enthusiasm through the book is contagious. Martin should be paying him royalties for the sales pitch! Seriously I was ready to go buy one and I'm not a Martin fan.
But after a certain point it just gets old hearing about how great Martin is.
Don't let that dissuade you from reading though! This is definitely a great read! Just be prepared for the overboard.
Allen St John does an excellent job weaving this one together. I admit I bought it because of the title.
Clapton is definitely not what this book is about. It is something much better.
Much like going to a jam session, the reader is made to feel part of the group and along for the ride. And it is a very enjoyable ride.