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A Perfectly Good Guitar, by Chuck Holley

Guitars, by the guitarists who love them

guitar51OMe+3dmIL__SX387_BO1,204,203,200_This is a book of remarkable stories as told by a wide range of artists about their guitars (Roseanne Cash, Marty Stuart, Jorma Kaukonen, Bill Frisell, Waddy Wachtel, Cindy Cashdollar, GE Smith, to name a few).  What they all have in common is their passion and love for the special guitars in their lives. There are few relationships as powerful as an artist and their instrument. Artists speak of the magic that happens when they work together with their guitar, when the guidance works both ways. As Jorma Kaukonen said, “You pick up a guitar and certain ones just say “You need to write a song in D major, and I’m the guitar to help you do that.”

Some of the most amazing things in this book are tales of so many guitars being stolen and recovered, or an unfortunate accident with a very happy ending, such as the one run over by a car and repaired, ending up sounding better than before. Sonny Landreth tell the story of a beloved Strat stolen by an unscrupulous club owner, and its miraculous return at the same club nine years later.

Tales of good fortune abound as well. Bill Kirchen was a bike messenger, and upon trading his SG for a Tele found his heart, and never again had to work doing anything but music.

Among the stories are an abundance of great quotes from a myriad of artists. “When I get an old instrument,” Cindy Cashdollar said, “I open the case and I want to say, Wow! Where have you been? What did you do?” From Guy Clark: “Guitars should be tools, they’re meant to be played;”  John Leventhal recalled, “I learned to be a musician on that guitar, I found my voice as a player.”  Alejandro Escovedo explained why new guitars don’t sound as good as old ones: “…because the new ones don’t have any songs in them yet.”

Hats off to Chuck Holley who interviewed, beautifully photographed, and created this fabulous book.  A Perfectly Good Guitar is a perfectly good read.

—Harvey Citron

Luthier Harvey Citron has been designing and building handcrafted guitars, basses, and pickups since 1974.   Fine instruments from Citron Guitars, Woodstock, NY, include John Sebastian’s acoustic/electric baritone guitar and jazz bassist Steve Swallow’s AE5 Swallow 5-string acoustic/electric bass

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