Book Review: The Birth of Loud

The Birth of Loud tells the story of Fender versus Les Paul, how they each got their starts and how they came to end up creating their now well known guitars.  It was 42 chapters and a lot of drama and very interesting.  I don’t know much about guitars so it was interesting to read about how they were creating them and what materials they were using and what kind of tones they were hoping to achieve out of them.  It was also interesting to read that Gibson had denied the idea that was brought to them for one of the guitars!   Also interesting was how Les Paul was give a Fender to try out – even though the two were kind of competitors and enemies.

Definitely a really interesting musical read.  I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.  This book was released January 15, 2019 through Scribner.

About the Book

A riveting saga in the history of rock ‘n’ roll: the decades-long rivalry between the two men who innovated the electric guitar’s amplified sound—Leo Fender and Les Paul—and their intense competition to convince rock stars like the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton to play the instruments they built.

In the years after World War II, music was evolving from big-band jazz into the primordial elements of rock ’n’ roll—and these louder styles demanded revolutionary instruments. When Leo Fender’s tiny firm marketed the first solid-body electric guitar, the Esquire, musicians immediately saw its appeal. Not to be out-maneuvered, Gibson, the largest guitar manufacturer, raced to build a competitive product. The company designed an “axe” that would make Fender’s Esquire look cheap and convinced Les Paul—whose endorsement Leo Fender had sought—to put his name on it. Thus was born the guitar world’s most heated rivalry: Gibson versus Fender, Les versus Leo.

While Fender was a quiet, half-blind, self-taught radio repairman from rural Orange County, Paul was a brilliant but egomaniacal pop star and guitarist who spent years toying with new musical technologies. Their contest turned into an arms race as the most inventive musicians of the 1950s and 1960s—including bluesman Muddy Waters, rocker Buddy Holly, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Eric Clapton—adopted one maker’s guitar or another. By the time Jimi Hendrix played “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock in 1969 on his Fender Stratocaster, it was clear that electric instruments—Fender or Gibson—had launched music into a radical new age, empowering artists with a vibrancy and volume never before attainable.

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