Art and Soul: ‘108 Rock Star Guitars’ Provides a Different Angle on Guitar Legends’ Tools of the Trade

October 22nd, 2013

ABOVE: Don Felder’s 1959 Gibson Les Paul. BELOW: Brian May’s Red Special. BOTTOM: From the collection of Steve Morse. All photos by Lisa S. Johnson.

This is an excerpt from the all-new November/December 2013 issue of Guitar Aficionado magazine. For more photos from 108 Rock Star Guitars, plus features on John Stamos, pre-War Martins, the Healdsburg Guitar Festival and more, head to the Guitar Aficionado Online Store.

Countless books feature photos of famous guitars. But in 108 Rock Star Guitars, photographer Lisa S. Johnson offers a unique perspective of iconic instruments by showcasing them in an artistic fashion instead of the typical, clinical full-length shots. Various close-up photos and uncommon angles reveal the unique details of each instrument, providing an intimate viewpoint similar to holding a guitar in one’s hands and examining it.

“I hope that readers will look at these images as artwork,” Johnson says. “I want them to say, ‘Wow! Look at the etches on the pickguard of Keith Richards’ guitar,’ or think about the ‘Arm the Homeless’ message inscribed on Tom Morello’s guitar. I want them to notice the wear and tear, stickers, and personalization that they can’t see unless they’re up close, and gain a new understanding of the artist because they now see the guitar from a different perspective. My passion is to illustrate how an instrument’s scars suggest its owner’s personality, or the way in which a player lays claim to an instrument with idiosyncratic decorations.”

Johnson spent 15 years shooting images for the book, usually photographing the guitars backstage while the artists were on tour or, on rare occasions, at the guitarists’ homes. The guitars featured are owned by a wide variety of artists, such as rock legends Jeff Beck, Brian May, and Jimmy Page, iconic musicians Willie Nelson and Bruce Springsteen, metal guitarists Dave Mustaine, Zakk Wylde, and Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing of Judas Priest, and the legendary Les Paul, who owned the first guitar shot for the book and inspired the project.

108 Rock Star Guitars is my paean to musicians whose work, however momen¬tarily, has brought peace, love, and magic to my world and to our world,” Johnson says. The book is available in a stunning Deluxe Edition ($540) housed in a die-cut box, or in a Regular Edition ($108) with a padded-leatherette hard cover along with a 16-page booklet describing the project.

To order, visit 108rockstarguitars.com.

This is an excerpt from the all-new November/December 2013 issue of Guitar Aficionado magazine. For more photos from 108 Rock Star Guitars, plus features on John Stamos, pre-War Martins, the Healdsburg Guitar Festival and more, head to the Guitar Aficionado Online Store.

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Comments

  1. Posted by dave on October 23rd, 2013, 14:28 [Reply]

    awesome

  2. Posted by Dave Miller on October 23rd, 2013, 14:41 [Reply]

    Thanks Guitar Af. for bringing this to our attention! Had to get! Cool website. Can’t wait to receive!

    Had links to other sites that promoted the book. One being Yahoo Music. I love reading the troll’s comments at the bottom of the site.

    Dave

  3. Posted by serge carignan on October 23rd, 2013, 18:36 [Reply]

    J’aimerais bien lire tout les détails de chaque artiste qui font que cette guitare sonne comme elle sonne ; comme son propriétaire souvent devinnable a l’oreille et qui fait la personnalité de chaque artiste… Merci a vous , tres intéresser a la suite .

  4. Posted by Ces One on October 24th, 2013, 00:38 [Reply]

    That burst is amazing… And the story of May’s guitar is unreal. More please!

  5. Posted by Paul Balmer on October 24th, 2013, 03:20 [Reply]

    For real and ‘in focus’! shots of the Red Special, Blackie and ‘Greeny’ as well as Clapton’s Pro Deluxe Les Paul, please check out the Haynes Series of Guitar Manuals – these give forensic detail as well as many DIY essential set up guides. http://www.musiconearth.co.uk

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