Friday, June 27, 2014

Sunburst - How The Gibson Les Paul Became A Legendary Guitar - Tony Bacon

Sunburst is definitely a book to own, but it makes me pine for something more. If you've been interested in guitars for more than ten minutes, I'm sure you are familiar with Tony Bacon's works, and this is more of the same. Essential, but not exceptional. If I sound like I'm of two minds here, I most definitely am. Please read on....

Bacon is nothing if not consistent - his books are unerringly accurate, and he knows how to layout a story, but they also lend themselves to a 'just the facts, ma'am,' conclusion. He is an aggregator - there's not much here that will be revelatory, but it's a great primer and one that should be on every guitar buff's book shelf. The stories are all here, they're all accurate, and there's enough technical information in his Reference List to make this essential material for every guitar shop.

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Especially well done is his fourteen page examination of Eric Clapton's history as it relates to the vaunted Les Paul Standard. That's a tenth of the book, but it's a great read. He also covers Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Billy Gibbons, and Paul Kossoff as key figures in making the 1959 'burst the most coveted guitar in the world. Also done nicely is the tale of Slash, his real Gibsons, and his Derrig replicas, which he properly points out as legitimate, as opposed to fakes. Bacon also includes such noted owner/users as Toto's Steve Lukather, Eagle guitarist Don Felder, Mike Bloomfield, and many others.

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One rather glaring near omission is the lack of real estate given to what I feel may be the only Les Paul Standard that deserves a book of its own, the famous Peter Green/Gary Moore owned 'Greeny.' I'm waiting for someone to take on this instrument and give a complete reading upon it, but that will have to wait. There's not only a wealth of technical guitar geek information attached to this guitar (the most riveting being the story of the middle position/out of phase pickup situation), but also the incredible mojo/voodoo that sees every guitar player to own it to come eventual ruin after parting with this most interesting model.

Me holding Joe B's first Burst with Joe just behind me
I would have loved to see a full and well detailed chapter on the most recent King Of The Burst, my old friend, Joe Bonamassa - he has a slew of them now, and I know of no one more reverential to the greatest electric guitar ever built on this planet.

Buy this book - I can nitpick it, which I don't really mean to do, but I've been up to my neck in guitars since I was a kid, and we curmudgeons are often like that. As I stated above, I consider this essential for every guitar buff and an excellent reference book for any pro, if not the be all to end all. I guess it's good to have something to look forward to.