Talking Guitar

Conversations with Musicians Who Shaped Twentieth-Century American Music

By Jas Obrecht

320 pp., 7 x 10, 28 halftones, notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6937-3
    Published: February 2022
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-3165-3
    Published: March 2017

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In this lively collection of interviews, storied music writer Jas Obrecht presents a celebration of the world’s most popular instrument as seen through the words, lives, and artistry of some of its most beloved players. Readers will read--and hear--accounts of the first guitarists on record, pioneering bluesmen, gospel greats, jazz innovators, country pickers, rocking rebels, psychedelic shape-shifters, singer-songwriters, and other movers and shakers. In their own words, these guitar players reveal how they found their inspirations, mastered their instruments, crafted classic songs, and created enduring solos.

Highlights include Nick Lucas’s recollections of waxing the first noteworthy guitar records; Ry Cooder’s exploration of prewar blues musicians; Carole Kaye and Ricky Nelson on the early years of rock and roll; Stevie Ray Vaughan on Jimi Hendrix; Gregg Allman on his brother, Duane Allman; Carlos Santana, Eric Johnson, and Pops Staples on spirituality in music; Jerry Garcia, Neil Young, and Tom Petty on songwriting and creativity; and early interviews with Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, and Ben Harper.

About the Author

Jas Obrecht is an award-winning music journalist and former editor of Guitar Player magazine. He has written for Rolling Stone, Living Blues, and many other publications. His books include Rollin' and Tumblin’: The Postwar Blues Guitarists and Early Blues: The First Stars of Blues Guitar. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
For more information about Jas Obrecht, visit the Author Page.


"An absorbing collection of conversations with guitarists from a wide swath of the musical map, these chronicles will appeal to a broad readership, not only to those who strum."--Library Journal

"For music fans, especially those with an affection for the guitar, it's essential reading."--Booklist

"Compelling and insightful."--Vintage Guitar

“Over the course of his esteemed career, Jas Obrecht has amassed a unique collection of interviews with seminal guitarists pivotal to the study of popular music. Talking Guitar shows, in its subjects’ own vibrant words, how both the artists and their work fit into the big picture of American culture. A must-read for those interested in the behind-the-scenes of some of our greatest music.”--Holly George-Warren, author of A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton

“Based on extensive first-person interviews and exhaustive research, Jas Obrecht’s Talking Guitar transcends guitar playing, uncovering the lives of the guitarists themselves. Obrecht once again shows that he is one of our leading contemporary music writers.”--Brett J. Bonner, editor of Living Blues magazine

"The electric guitar has become such a staple of every genre of modern music that we take it for granted--like running water, refrigerators, or, indeed, electricity itself. Jas Obrecht gives us a new appreciation for the instrument's history and development, and even more so for the way it's been used and taken in new directions by some of the greats, both those who are well known and others who should be. This book is a joy to read."--Jim DeRogatis, cohost of Sound Opinions and author of Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic

Multimedia & Links

Listen, watch, and read: Obrecht talks to Robin Young on WBUR's "Here & Now." Listen to the radio segment, watch videos of some of the guitarists Obrecht writes about, and read an excerpt from the book at the station's website. (6/6/2017, audio running time 11:07)