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2017 Book Gift Guide for Musicians

Keep your coffee table and your musician happy...


by Chris Loeffler



As 2017 comes to a close, we're taking a few minutes to look back at the books we reviewed in the last twelve months in case you find yourself hunting for an affordable gift for your favorite musician, or even yourself. Pull yourself away from the various screens in your life to dive into some analog sensory experiences!




Mixerman and the Billionheir Apparent by Eric Sarafin


This semi-fictional book review opened up our year, following the ongoing journeys of internet/blog sensation Mixerman (since outed as engineer Eric Sarafin) as he engages in even more out-there musical enterprises with a rich middle-eastern trust fund kid in a series of face-palm worthy escapades that draws equal laughs and cringes from readers who are willing to stare too deeply into the insanity that is the world of record labels and fickle (privileged) artists. 


Read the complete Harmony Central review of Mixerman and the Billionheir Apparent here





Mark Schulman's Conquering Life's Stage Fright


Harmony Central's Dendy Jarrett shared his personal connection with stage fright in his February review of Mark Schulman's inspirational meditation on fears and anxiety, both on and off the stage. While written by a drummer speaking to drummers, the messages and stories Schulman shares in this brief book transcend instruments (and even music) and speak to the heart of matters and humanity at large. Conquering Life's Stage Fright is the perfect kick of motivation and perspective for anyone looking to break through barriers!


Read the complete Harmony Central review of Mark Schulman's Conquering Life's Stage Fright here 




The Martin Archives by  Grahm Nash


Harmony Central's resident gear historian Phil O'Keefe was stoked to be an early reviewer of The Martin Archives when Backwing released the book early this year, and turned his critical eye to the book to assess its worthiness both as a definitive statement on the Martin Guitar instrument legacy as well as its aesthetic merits for coffee tables and general interest. His takeaway was the book achieves a thorough (if short of definitive) essay on the revered 185 year old company's output with enough eye candy to occupy a few minutes at a time and enough text to consume several evenings, making for a reading experience as deep (or shallow) as the reader wants.


Read the complete Harmony Central review of The Martin Archives here 





Sex, Drums, Rock n' Roll by Kenny Aronoff


I guess we weren't going to make it through a year of book reviews from music industry insiders without hitting at least some slightly PG-13 material, so here's a brief dip into the bluer side of the rock and roll lifestyle. However, Aronoff's recounting of excesses and bragging are just the thinnest veneer of bravado over a very American story of hard work, always being available for when the right opportunity presents itself, and the ultimate selflessness that is surrendering ego and wants for the art and the moment.


Read the complete Harmony Central review of Kenny Aronoff's Sex, Drums, Rock n' Roll here     





The Fender Custom Shop at 30 Years by Stephen Pitkin                              


While many of the books reviewed this year focused on more traditional narratives and thorough text content, Phil O'Keefe found The Fender Custom Shop at 30 years a refreshing visual treat to shamelessly focus on large, sexy images of rare and hard-to-find guitars with regular pepperings of text to support the luscious photos. Less a book to be read cover-to-cover than eye candy to ring that Pavalovian bell buried deep in the guitarists' id, The Fender Custom Shop at 30 is a celebration of three decades of amazing guitars.


Read the complete Harmony Central review of The Fender Custom Shop at 30 Years here



An Introduction to Music Technology-2nd Edition by Dan Hosken


Ok, while most of the books we reviewed this year were focused on entertainment or narratives, An Introduction to Music Technology was definitley the most academic of those we reviewed. Aimed at musicians new to the technology behind their instruments or looking to get into recording and sound engineering, An Introduction is a mid-depth dive into a very wide pool that touches on nearly all aspects of sound production, capture, and reproduction. Less interested in being a manual for specific technologies or platforms, this book addresses the "hows" and "whys", giving readers a solid (if sometimes unfocused) understanding of what every piece of technology is doing to contribute to sound production that can be applied to any process, from synthesizers to audio interfaces to mixing and mastering. 


Read the complete Harmony Central review of An Introduction to Music Technology- 2nd Edition here



Electric Guitars - Design and Invention by Tony Bacon


If An Introdution to Music Technology is the most technical book we reviewed this year, Electric Guitars is the most detailed and focused. Following most major innovations in the evolution of electric guitars across brands and genres, including many interesting side-trips to features and technology briefly explored before being relegated to the novelty bin of guitar odds-and-ends, Electric Guitars offers most of the "whys" readers probably haven't even thought to ask about how the modern guitar came to be and what ergonomic, sonic, and aesthetic discoveries were made upon the way to today's most iconic musical instrument.


Read the complete review of Electric Guitar - Design and Invention here


See you all in 2018 with another great batch of books to review! Are you an author or publisher with a book you'd like considered for review by Harmony Central? Email us at admin@harmonycentral.com and let's talk!




Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer. 



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