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Teaching Myself About Guitars.

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Hello all.

Seeing as im a newbie to the guitar world, and i really dont know much. i would like to nerd up on guitars with the help of books or internet sites and the like. a lot of the time, i dont know what people are on about half the time on here!

do you lot have any reccomendations as to what books i should purchase or sites i should read? (im in the UK by the way, so british book sites if possible)

i want to learn about pretty much everything bar the history, learning about the history isnt going to really end up helping me end up building a nice guitar for myself.

many thanks for reading.


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People are going to post a lot of resources, but seriously, Projectguitar.com and projectguitar.ibforums.com are amazing resources.

As far as book go, I love "The Luthiers Handbook," by Roger Siminoff. It's less of a "how-to" book and more of a "why-to" book. You can learn all the ins and outs on this site, but you'll gain a lot of understanding from that book.

There are other books, but I'm sure everyone else here will post them.

Make sure to be obsessive. It really helps.

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i want to learn about pretty much everything bar the history, learning about the history isnt going to really end up helping me end up building a nice guitar for myself.

I'd disagree with that...I think the history especially of the electric guitar is very important to understand why a strat is and why so many players use it...or any other guitar. Particularly things like Leo Fender's approach to guitar building (as a practical non-guitar player but genius innovator)...things like the bolt on neck, or the failure of his original concepts of no truss rods! Many of the ideas that continue to come up were tackled by Leo and others...the pine tele's for instance.

Plus for inspiration, things like the Ultimate Guitar Book offers a great photographic journey through the electric guitars history and many variations. Context is important.

On the technical building side...there are lots of books that are worthy for construction and technical approaches. Hiscock is one, but there are a few others of course.

On wiring ideas, the GuitarNuts2 forum is sensational...but you need to have a guitar before you need think about wiring the thing of course.

Browsing through builds and parts catalogues or sites like stewmac often give ideas and information...but beware the hype of sites where they are selling stuff

But here again, most of the things that people are after have an historical precedent...the maple topped mahogany construction of a gibson, the advantages of neck through designs, the effect on tone (particularly attack) of a bolt on neck, styles like the gibson "modern" series (V and explorer shapes)...and this also leads to the players and the sounds associated with them.

Pickups and styles there definitely have very strong historical biases.

Every guitar has its strong and weak points for various players, working out what is right for you, or just what you would like to try or create, means a little soul searching perhaps. But understanding what people mean...that can take a little time or perhaps a discrete question here and there (it took forever for me to work out what AANJ was supposed to mean a few years back!).

And of course...there is some healthy disagreement or at least debate about a lot of aspects of things.

At the very least, it is necessary to understand the basic mechanics of things like scale length, intonation, how a humbucker works, why single coil pickups are still favoured despite noise, etc

But...I'm all for history myself...I can't get enough of Leo's tinkerings or Gibson's abortive failures (as well as their successes)...hahha


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Ok...that's probably enough guitarporn!

The "guitar Player Repair Guide" by Dan Erlewine is a good book on 'how to set up, maintain and repair electrics and acoustics' (stew mac biases aside it covers a lot of ground)

"Build your own electric Guitar, complete instructions and full sized plans" (martian oakham) is not bad with lots of coulour pics of building and tool use plus hardware and even wood types and grains.

"make your own electric guitar and bass" ( D waring and D Raymond) takes a similar approach.

Martain Koch's "building electric guitars" is dryer, lots more text and black and white pictures but covers a lot of ground...even has some small "factory tours" in the back and covers a lot of ground in detail including the building of semi acoustic models.

Hiscock's book is always recommended and provides a good balance between these two styles of presentation...most here including me would probably own it :D

So...that comes from just a quick look on the bookshelves.

An old standby for general guitar stuff including playing is "The Guitar Handbook" and might be worth checking out.

For fender fans...and interesting one is the "interactive Fender Bible" which is like a hardcovered ring bound catalogue of every fender guitar and amp through the years in short descriptions...the interactive part is the included DVD that goes through some of these classic instruments and amps and shows how they sound.

Books like "Fender: the sound heard 'round the world" are interesting for a historical perspective...on the amps and a man's innovative and creative nature.

Learning about things like Les Paul's Log or even his work developing the multitrack tape recorder are worth while stories to hear. I find if comforting that a guy like Les Paul thought to stick a needle from a record player into his acoustic to get added amplification at a country fair kind of comforting.

Similar to the knowledge that the young beatles had only 4 tracks tops to do those incredibly layered masterpieces when I attempt feeble recording excursions...or that with Hendrix's background and poverty could achieve so much before his untimely death at 27...or does that just make my attempts embarrassing...

Anyway...don't go overboard, a lot of books are kind of expensive...but I have found erlewines book helpful on a few occassions for a lot of everyday things regardless, and if you do build a guitar, lot's of guitar building books are a little light on about set up kind of things. Persoanally, people could well think to start out their building books with these kinds of aspects and considerations before launching in with the router spinning...hahha


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