Book Review: 108 Rock Star Guitars by Lisa S. Johnson

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This is the paperback version of the comprehensive publication of 108 Rock Star Guitars by photographer Lisa S. Johnson that was released last year. The hard cover edition is a beautiful leather bound decorative piece of art that is full of rock history with photographs of the instruments of some of music’s legendary iconic guitarists that is perfect for the coffee table in the center of a main room or a great addition to the library of any guitar enthusiast’s home.

And now, this soft cover edition released via Hal Leonard is available, going easy on the budget while not sacrificing any of the artful appeal of this pleasing display.

In this edition, the music enthusiast and lover of art will be delighted with 108 Rock Star Guitars’  coverage of classic instruments by Fender, Gibson, and Gretsch, to name a few, and some of the unique guitar designs not well known by the average guitar lover including the Airline guitar by Valco, circa 1963/1964, made famous by Jack White in The White Stripes, and the conversation piece (to say the least!) built for Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, a 1979/1980 Hammer named “Uncle Dick,” a double neck guitar with inlays that spell out “Cheap” then “Trick” on the upper and lower necks. You have to see this guitar to appreciate it, but the body of the guitar is really the body of Rick complete with his head and iconic ball cap with flipped up lid!

This book is packed with up-close and personal photographs of the beloved instruments of iconic rock stars that became legendary in their own right, a real list of “who’s who” including the axes of Bruce Springsteen, Steve Miller, Ted Nugent, Joe Walsh, Keith Richards, Rick Nielson, Jack White, Jeff Beck, Peter Frampton, Jimmie Page, Willie Nelson, Lou Reed, Johnny Lange and many, many more.

Learn the stories behind their guitars, how they personalized them, and the wear and tear on them that add an intriguing twist to this unique work of art as opposed to the typical “guitar history” book.

While much of the content focuses on legendary male guitarists, there are also photos of the guitars of some great female guitarists including Bonnie Raitt, Ann and Nancy Wilson, Chrissie Hynde, and Sheryl Crow.


For those that ask the question “Why 108?” the answer is articulated by author/photographer Lisa S. Johnson in the opening, “It is featured in yoga and dharma-related practices and makes an appearance in everything from ancient ruins to classical literature.” “The distance between the earth and the sun is 108 times the sun’s diameter,” “the distance between the earth and the moon is 108 times the moon’s diameter, and the diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the earth.” It is a divine number to the artist and while she felt the number picked her rather than visa-versa, it is divinity that she hears with the instruments she covers in the pages of the magnificent work.

In a previous interview with the author, we learned about her background in photography, how she started photographing guitars, how she fell in love with the look and feel of this intriguing instrument, and how she met Les Paul, who referred to her as the “girl with the guitar art” and ultimately wrote the foreward for this book.

RELATED STORY:  Interview with Lisa Johnson, the Girl with the Guitar Art

I personally bought the leather bound hard copy of this book and would recommend it to any guitar enthusiast.

And it even gets better – I just noticed on their website that a new mini version will be available soon!

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