10 important books for guitarists to read

GUITAR SHOWCASE 2022: From astonishing biographies, to thought-provoking tuition and engaging guitar history, here’s our pick of the books that demand your attention…

1. The Birth Of Loud: Leo Fender, Les Paul, and the Guitar-Pioneering Rivalry That Shaped Rock ‘n’ Roll 

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Author: Ian S. Port
Focussing on the mid-20th century sparring between Fender and Gibson, Port’s book The Birth Of Loud tells the story of the electric guitar in opposition to a backdrop of rivalry, technical innovation and some world-changing players. 

This takes you not just into the minds and personalities of the postwar-era’s biggest guitar designers but additionally the scenes in which their instruments thrived.

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2. Crosstown Traffic: Jimi Hendrix and Post-war Pop

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Author: Charles Shaar Murray
Hendrix is often hailed as a legendary boundary breaker, powered by an inherent genius, however Charles Shaar Murray’s superb investigation into the pop phenomenon dispels many dangerous myths across the guitarists’ seemingly supernatural expertise. 

Instead it focuses on how and why Hendrix did what he did and the, arguably higher, value of his remarkable accomplishments as a black artist who penetrated a popular culture dominated by 60s the rock scene’s white hegemony.

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3. Life

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Author: Keith Richards
Keith Richards’ autobiography Life caused quite the stir on its launch, thanks in no small components to a savvy PR campaign and some selection Jagger-baiting bites making the headlines. 

However, while rich within the juicy and salacious, what’s wonderful about Life is the method in which it captures the languid humour of Richards’ voice: his rumbling inner-monologue explaining the pondering (and, at instances, lack thereof) behind his private and inventive relationships, the ‘Stones highlights and lows and, after all, the addictions that he handled for decades.

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4. Heaven And Hell

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Author: Don Felder
A straightforward rock bio documenting a remarkable life thus far, Felder’s tell-all focuses on telling his facet of The Eagles tumultuous tale, with embarrassing ranges of sex, medicine and rock ’n’ roll all through. 

What’s extra, the six-string connections abound, from giving an unknown Tom Petty guitar classes to cribbing slide techniques direct from Duane Allman, Joe Walsh’s aspect line as a prankster and assembly Keith Richards (passed out on a relaxation room floor). 

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5. When I Left Home

(Image credit score: Da Capo Press)

Author: Buddy Guy
Buddy Guy is likely certainly one of the planet’s most interesting blues guitarists. He can be the indisputable first-hand hyperlink between the founders of Chicago blues – the likes of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf – and the showmanship of the great rock gamers like Hendrix, Clapton, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards and Jeff Beck. 

All of the above have hailed him as an affect and Guy’s unimaginable story in some ways set the template for blues iconography – literally taking him from an impoverished childhood in the cotton fields of Louisiana, up the Mississippi to Chicago the place he made his name, through gun-toting promoters, blues greats and rock icons.

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6. Zen Guitar

(Image credit: Simon & Schuster)

Author: Philip Toshio Sudo
Zen Guitar is a manual for the six-string warriors of sunshine. Eschewing the typical method breakdowns and physical focus of the usual instructive titles, Zen Guitar instead considers the non secular and mental method of nice guitarists. 

It’s about bettering your mentality as a musician so you can higher faucet into that state of ‘in the moment’ circulate so prized by the most effective players.

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7. Heavier Than Heaven: The Biography of Kurt Cobain 

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Author: Charles R. Cross
The main biography of the late, nice Nirvana frontman. Author Charles R. Cross performed exhaustive analysis, including more than a hundred interviews with the Cobain household, plus Courtney Love, Buzz Osbourne, Krist Novoselic, Dylan Carson, Jessica Hopper and Curt Kirkwood (to name a small selection). 

It is, emotionally, hard reading however extraordinarily well-written and the delicate subject matter is dealt with with nice care. An eye-opening portrait of an icon.

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8. Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music

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Author: Rob Young
This colossal tome (600+ pages) is the final word learn for fans of the musicians and music of the British Isles. 

It’s ostensibly the colourfully-told story of British folk music, but its major concern is the folk rock revival of the 60s and 70s (with guitar icons a-plenty) – including the likes of Richard Thompson and Fairport Convention, Nick Drake, John Martyn, Pentangle (which featured Bert Jansch) and on to the likes of The Beatles and Pink Floyd. 

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9. Testimony

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Author: Robbie Robertson
Few guitarists had a better view of the shifting cultural landscape in the 20th century than Robbie Robertson, the lynchpin of The Band and Bob Dylan’s first go-to electrical participant. 

From becoming a member of The Hawks at 16 to his early meetings with Dylan and a stream of anecdotes from a rollercoaster life it’s packed stuffed with perception – and even particulars a few of the gear used on these iconic classes.

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10. It Gets Me Home, This Curving Track

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Author: Ian Penman
This assortment of music writing from celebrated British critic Ian Penman provides up a series of portraits of artists who created a kind of shared understanding throughout racial divides, “black artists who had been innovators, white musicians who copied them for the mainstream”. 

It’s not all guitar-focussed, but there are intensive and insightful items on The Mods, Steely Dan, Prince and the hugely-influential-yet-under-covered John Fahey. 

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