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My First Guitar  By  cover art

My First Guitar

By: Julia Crowe
Narrated by: Ralph Lister,LJ Ganser,Lisa Friedman-York
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Publisher's Summary

Whether it is a beautiful and classic model or an unglamorous and inexpensive starter instrument, a musician's first guitar can be the catalyst that motivates a lifelong passion. This audiobook contains interviews with 70 of the world's most well-known guitarists across musical genres and playing styles to discover how their love of the instrument compelled them to pursue music as a career. These guitar icons reveal how they got their first instrument, the music they loved, and their heroes and inspirations. With an impressive list of subjects - including Dick Dale, Melissa Etheridge, Jimmy Page, Les Paul, and Carlos Santana - as well guitar legends as Alex Lifeson, Joe Satriani, and Jimmie Vaughan, this book has appeal for guitar heroes and non-musicians alike.

©2012 Julia Crowe (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

The first love is always the sweetest

Julia Crowe has compiled a sweet suite of seventy stories about guitars. Heavy hitters in rock, blues, flamenco, classical and country reminisce about their first guitars. And if you don't get nostalgic, you've never been in love before.

I knew this was going to be a good read when Andy Summers, guitarist for the Police, provided the foreword. Then Crowe took up the tale of how this book came together.

Her quest took her to London to visit the elusive Jimmy Page, only to be told he was unavailable. And the author had just sunk her last borrowed dime on this trip. She is told to go to a coffeeshop where Page may or may not show?

Will she get the interview? You have to stick around to the last chapter to find out. But the seventy stories stacked in between make you want to run out and drool over a Gretsch or your ax of choice.

The guitarists give their stories in their own words. That's why there is more than one narrator to provide voices for this varied asemblage. Crowe scored interviews with big names and lesser knowns with a huge impact, and you don't have to know anything about guitars or care to understand these tales of first guitars and finding one's path in life.

3 people found this helpful

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Some good anecdotes but awful performances.

A worthwhile subject, with occasionally good anecdotes, but the vocal performances are atrocious for the most part. Two of the readers affect horrible, condescending southern accents that ruined the book for me, and when not affecting poor accents they attempt to come off like jovial raconteurs which rings quite false and is totally off-putting. This is a great subject and well worth exploring and documenting considering the number of players interviewed and profiled. Would that competent readers had been chosen.

1 person found this helpful

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Pure Gold for Guitar Lovers

I got my first guitar selling Christmas cards door to door when I was 10, from an ad on the back of a comic book. I wanted a "Liverpool Drum Kit" but my parents (wisely) vetoed that idea. I got a plastic piece of junk -- not a mere a toy, as it was playable enough for me to take lessons on it, but a piece of junk for sure.

When it broke, my dad came home with a used accordion (broken!) which I promptly nixed -- nothing less cool in 1968 than accordion, though The Band was soon to change that. So for $5, a modest amount even in 1968 dollars, I bought a guitar from a friend's older sister who was abandoning her dream to be the next Judy Collins. A step up, but terrible action and worse sound, not that that was more of a drawback than my awful caterwauling.

I gave up for a few years, then decided with friends to form a short-lived (no-lived) group, The Summer Snowflake (hoping to appeal to all seasons -- 50 years later the Snowflake moniker is even more unfortunate. I needed an electric but was talked into a hollow-body that could be played unplugged. Another piece of junk, a Univox Savoy sunburst that one can find on Reverb for triple what we paid (about half in real dollars after inflation). My brother and sister got a nice piano in that same deal, which one of them still has and still plays.

I stuck with the guitar from then on -- in my first recital, I played a Bach duet with another student, Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head (in my defense, because I loved Butch Cassidy), and (in a prouder moment) Mountain's Nantucket Sleighride, plugged in with the kid who did the Bach with me -- it rocked the parents!).

Finally, I got a real guitar during my first year of college, an Alvarez (pre-Yairi) with nice herringbone binding and inlay and a gorgeous sound. I learned how to fingerpick from a classical guitarist, elevating my playing, defining my personal style to this day -- I now study with the guy I was emulating back then, Jorma Kaukonen. That guitar served me well, accompanying me throughout Europe and Australia as I busked my way around the globe, as well as back home in Washington Square, where I became a fixture for a couple of years.

All of which I write mainly because this is a whole lot of fun, at least for me, maybe not for you. But also to illustrate what to expect in My First Guitar -- not from a clown like me, but from real guitar players, most or many of whom you've heard of, from rock to jazz to classical, and more. Dick Dale got his first instrument selling Noxema from the back of a comic book, then replaced that junky piece of cardboard with a $6 plastic one that was almost as bad. Someone else got their junky first guitar from S&H Green Stamps. Someone else wanted drums but was steered to guitar.

Everyone has more to talk about than their literal first guitar, because that was almost always inadequate and replaced with another, and another -- eventually by their first "real" guitar, and then the first they performed with, and what they played on it, and what the reaction was, and what their parents thought, and who their influences were, and what the sound of a guitar does to them. And everyone has stories about guitars that were stolen or damaged or sold, etc.

This is great stuff. You have to deal with the cross-genre nature of the sample size, especially since the author comes from the classical world. And you have to put up with her own stories, which I applaud but which left me flat, mainly because they went on too long. And some of the interviewees are a bit, shall we say, eccentric (yes you, Dick Dale, may you rest in peace). But for guitar lovers, this is pure gold.

And there is even a mention of my wife's friend, a guitar dealer whose shop is described as "legendary". And Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo confesses how much he was influenced by my mentor Jorma ("confesses" because Sonic Youth and Hot Tuna are worlds apart). Cool stuff!

1 person found this helpful

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Mostly Hits the Right Chord

As a longtime music fan, especially pop and rock, and a devoted guitar hobbyist, I mostly enjoyed listening to the 70 stories in "My First Guitar" by Julia Crowe. Despite having heard lots of music of various genres over the years, I didn't recognize the names of about half of the musicians featured in this book. A few of the stories got me curious, and I found myself doing searches of artists I hadn't before known anything about. So, in one sense, consuming this book was a broadening experience for me. I do believe, however, that the book would have been better if it had been shorter. The stories get repetitive after awhile. It seems like I heard multiple stories of guitarists first inspired by the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, as well as several stories of guitarists who went through the experience of having their equipment stolen. I know it would have been hard to choose and edit but how about 50 stories instead of 70? Also, despite the author being a woman, women are few and far between in this book. In fact, I don't recall hearing about any. What about Bonnie Raitt, Chrissie Hynde, Joan Jett, Tracy Chapman, just to name a few. Also, annoyingly, the reader can't easily go back to select the story of a specific musician, because instead of chapters being identified by name ("Dick Dale," "George Benson," "Peter Frampton"), they are identified by number ("12," "27," "38"). Such a format is unhelpful.