Back when I was a little’un, we’re talking 8 or 9 years old, I was already way into guitar. I’d see guitars in music videos and totally bug out over them. My favourites were Rickenbackers, Gretsches, Guilds, Gibsons – anything with F-holes and shiny metal-covered pickups. Anyway, one day in the school library I happened across Denny Laine’s Guitar Book. At the time he wrote it (1979), Laine was a member of Wings with one Mr Paul McCartney.
I was obsessed with this book. I used to take it home all the time, pour through its contents, work through its lessons, and gaze at the guitar photos. There’s some really great stuff in there – tips on gear for beginners, lists of great players, a tour of Laine’s guitar collection, an interview with luthier Dick Knight, a tour of the production stages at the Gibson guitar factory… one page carries black and white pictures of a whopping five different types of Les Paul (Standard Natural, Artisan, Pro Deluxe, 55, Standard Cherry Sunburst). It blew my mind at the time that there could be five kinds of Gibson Les Paul (even though two of them were Standards).
Then there’s the lesson section – tips on tuning, chords, inversions, scales, strumming patterns – so much cool info. I hadn’t started taking lessons yet (although my Auntie Barbi had shown me a few chords – she’s a folkie and used to serenade me with “Banks Of The Ohio” whenever she’d come over), and I didn’t quite understand what tuning was, but even so, this book was hugely influential for me, and I continued to borrow it from the library even when I’d started taking guitar lessons with a great teacher named Peter Cominos.
I guess you could say that the way Laine covers a wide range of guitar topics from both personal and informational perspectives, sometimes within the same article, makes him the first guitar blogger – just in print instead of online.
This book is long out of print but I managed to track down a copy on Amazon.com. If you’re a music book collector like me, it’s well worth it. Aside from having lots of great information that’s still relevant today, it’s also a snapshot of a different time in guitar, before you could just go online to find answers to questions like “How do I amplify an acoustic guitar?” or “What’s an octave divider?” or “How often should I change strings?”