• by Tim Brookes
  • Narrated by Tim Brookes
  • 11 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

What was it about a small, humble folk instrument that allowed it to become an American icon? The guitar represents freedom, the open road, protest and rebellion, the blues, youth, lost love, and sexuality. Tim Brookes explores with adoration these ideas and how they became entwined with the history of America. Shortly before Tim Brookes' 50th birthday, baggage handlers destroyed his guitar, his 22-year-old traveling companion. His wife promised to replace it with the guitar of his dreams, but Tim discovered that a dream guitar is built, not bought. He set out to find someone to make him the perfect guitar, a quest that ended up a on a dirt road in the Green Mountains of Vermont, where an amiable curmudgeon master guitarmaker, Rick Davis, took a rare piece of cherry wood and went to work with saws and rasps.
Meanwhile, Tim set out to write a kind of chronicle of the guitar, as he said, "not a catalog of makes and models, nor a genealogy of celebrities, but an attempt to understand this curious relationship between the instrument and the people involved with it, and how that has grown and changed over time".
He discovered that the instrument, first arriving with conquistadors and the colonists, ended up in the hands of a variety of people: miners and society ladies, lumberjacks and presidents' wives, Hawaiians, African-Americans, Cajuns, jazz players, spiritualists, singing cowboys of the silver screen, and bluegrass and Beatles fans. Inventors and crackpots tinkered with it. In time, it became America's instrument, its soundtrack.
When Tim wasn't breathing over Rick's shoulder, he was trying to unravel the symbolic associations a guitar holds for so many of us, musicians and non-musicians alike. His journey takes him across the country talking to historians, curators, and guitarmakers.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Amazingly, a real page-turner

Who could have thought that a combination of craftsman's tale and musical history could be so addictive? Brookes intersperses the construction of his new guitar with a detailed account of the guitar's place in global and America music and I couldn't stop listening. Only two regrets, one of them already fixed:

- After such a detailed description of the custom built guitar, I wanted to see it. Fortunately there are pictures available at (search for "brookes" and "guitar").

- The audio-book format could have been used to great effect to illustrate the many musical styles discussed in the book. Brookes is almost poetic in his description of the many sounds that can be had from a guitar and some clips would have just been the gravy on the cake. Or something like that.

Highly recommended, probably best for middle-aged guys like me who have 25 years+ of fascination under their belts, but have never really stopped to think why and how it all happened.
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- Colin


Having been an avid guitarist for almost 30 years, I was intrigued by this book. I have read quite a bit about the instrument, its history and players and didn't know if there'd be much here for me or not.

I was happy to see that the author provided many interesting tidbits of information that were new to me, both in terms of the general development of the instrument, as well as what I'd call "guitar trivia" - things that your even your above average player probably doesn't know.

It was also interesting to read about the construction of the author's guitar and to learn about acoustic guitar construction and what makes the difference between a "good" production-line guitar and a really good custom guitar.

I have only two minor criticism (very small in light of how much good stuff is in the book). First, I would agree with another reviewer that the pauses between certain paragraphs were too long. I also found myself reaching for my mp3 player to see if something was wrong. About the time my hand grabbed the player, the reader started up again.

Secondly, IMHO, the author comes across as a bit snobbish towards most things that have been commercially successful (either musically or guitar-wise). At times I was reminded of some college friends who eschewed anything that was popular, merely because it was popular.

Anyway, these very minor criticisms IN NO WAY dissuade me from recommending this audiobook. The author discussed subjects ranging from fingernail care to Ace Frehley's near-electrocution; from Segovia's violent temper to B.B. King's rise to fame; from the reason that stock production acoustic guitars aren't intonated properly to how amplification affected the playing style of guitarists.

All in all a GREAT read - well worth the time.
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- Tim "Computer Programmer and Worship Leader. Have enjoyed reading since my mom got me hooked on Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie prior to my teen years. My brother got me hooked on audio books after I started having a longer commute to work. Love a variety of genres."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-17-2005
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.