In a project carefully planned to be the last word on guitars, specialty book packager Epic Ink is publishing The Guitar Collection: An Elite Gathering of 150 Exceptional Guitars along with a companion volume called The Guitar Collection: Stories, a mammoth and meticulously crafted dual book collection that will document many of the most famous and historically significant guitars of all time. Three years in the making, The Guitar Collection, to be released in November, comes in a custom-made miniature leather guitar case and will sell for $1,500.
Epic Ink is a new unit of book packager Becker and Mayer that specializes in one-of-a-kind projects that push the limits of book design and production. One volume in this set, The Guitar Collection—written by guitar historian Walter Carter, in an oversized (23-in. wide×12-in. high) 512-page book that weighs 20 pounds—has more than 670 color photographs and technical specs on each of the 150 guitars. The other volume, The Guitar Collection: Stories by Art Thomas, Michael Molend, and Alan di Perna, includes anecdotes and colorful behind-the-scenes accounts about the owners and individual performance histories of each of the 150 guitars. The Guitar Collection is the second major work produced by Epic Ink, which earlier created Star Wars: The Blue Prints, a $500 limited edition book published in conjunction with Lucas Films.
The Guitar Collection features instruments like the Gibson played by pioneering jazz guitarist Charlie Christian as well as iconic guitars played by Jeff Beck, Keith Richards, and Kurt Cobain. The book will be produced in three limited editions of 1,500 copies each, and each book collection will also include a full-color museum-quality print of one of three guitars taken by photographer John Peden. In an interview at Peden's Manhattan studio (Peden was one of three photographers that shot the images for the entire book), author Carter told PW that Becker and Mayer proposed the project after doing specialty limited edition "scrapbook" projects on Frank Sinatra, Audrey Hepburn, and Bob Dylan.
Publicist Meg Parsont said the book will be featured at the Rizzoli Bookstore, adding, "We're looking to partner with designers who identify with the rock 'n' roll sensibility and with museum shops and online retailers."
Carter, a Nashville songwriter, author, and guitar historian who has worked for Gibson and Gruhn for many years, said the project began with a "guitar summit," which brought him together with other guitar historians and specialists and the editors of Guitar Player magazine to pick the instruments to be included in the book. The project began with about 1,500 significant guitars before winnowing the number down to 150. The team of photographers (from L.A., Seattle, and the East Coast/Europe) were sent around the country to carefully and creatively photograph each of the guitars.
Carter said he established the criteria by which the instruments were to be chosen: "celebrity, historical importance, and looking really cool." He said, "The biggest battles were generational. The young editors wanted Eddie Van Halen's guitar, while the academics were arguing about 19th-century lyre-guitars." They also encountered some awkward moments while trying to locate and establish the authenticity of some of the guitars. "Some of these collectors," Carter said with a laugh, "didn't quite have the guitars that they thought."