Review: Inventing the American Guitar: The Pre-Civil War Innovations of C.F. Martin and His Contemporaries
By Trevor Anema
As a big fan of coffee table books I am always on the lookout for one with a uniquely cool subject matter. This book absolutely nails it on every level with bold, beautiful pictures and a museum-like narrative on the evolution of the American Guitar. Written by a team of scholars this book contains a myriad of information about the early guitar, its builders and previously unknown information about their relationships together.
In large part, this book is dedicated to the story of C.F. Martin Sr., the most dominant figure in early American guitar design and founder of Martin & Co. It chronicles his life’s work from his start in Germany under Viennese mentor, Johann Georg Sauffer, his relocation to America in 1833, the influence of Spanish guitarists on Martin, as well as chapters on his main competitor, James Ashborn.
Over 45 guitars from the world’s best private collections and museums are featured in this book in beautiful 2-page profiles. Many pictures are presented in full-page layouts, and all in vibrant color. Also included are detailed diagrams of the featured instruments. As a magnificent bonus, luthier supplier Stewart-MacDonald created detailed fold-out working drawings of two very early Martin guitars, both of them created especially for this book.
This book has cherry-picked some of the rarest items from the world’s best guitar collections. With a rich look, this visually stunning compilation is a sure-fire win for any musician.
Inventing the American Guitar: The Pre-Civil War Innovations of C.F. Martin and His Contemporaries. Book. Hardcover. 310 pages. 11.3×10.8×1.1 inches.
Author Robert Shaw & Peter Szego
Published by Hal Leonard
ISBN-10: 1458405761 / ISBN-13: 978-1458405760
Available online at:
Cover Price: $50.00, pricing varies depending on website