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Books: Cool Wooden Box - Transformation of the American Acoustic Guitar

Books: Cool Wooden Box - Transformation of the American Acoustic Guitar

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Beginning with a comparison of the American acoustic guitar world in the early 1960s with that of today, then describing iconic performances at storied venues such as The Ark in Ann Arbor while meticulously researching the instrument’s top makers, Smith assembles a passion-filled and eye-opening history of that “cool wooden box” from the folk era through the pandemic. The author focuses on both the playing and making of the acoustic guitar, concluding that the instrument has been transformed in both aspects during the last sixty years.

On the playing side, Smith examines the influences on, and the impact of, such guitarists as David Bromberg, Elizabeth Cotten, Paul Geremia, and Norman Blake.

On the making side, the author takes the reader into the tradition-minded yet dynamic world of lutherie. He traces how the oldest, most revered companies whose reputations are based on legendary breakthroughs in lutherie, Gibson and Martin, have adapted as the new lutherie movement of innovative small-scale producers, exemplified by interviewees such as Michael Gurian, Bill Collings, Richard Hoover, and Dana Bourgeois, arose. Starting small and then growing exponentially, Taylor Guitars is a wholly different “player” in acoustic guitar building, and Smith compellingly tells its story. Finally, Cool Wooden Box considers the effects of globalization on the industry.

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