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Clapton's Guitar: Watching Wayne Henderson Build the Perfect Instrument

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  305 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
In 1994, Eric Clapton came across a Wayne Henderson guitar in a recording studio and decided on the spot that he had to have one. Rarer than Stradivarius violins, these musical works of art are built from near-extinct Brazilian Rosewood, Appalachian spruce, black ebony, and fine mother-of-pearl. With Henderson's keen ear for the vibrations of each piece of wood he uses, ea ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published October 12th 2005 by Free Press (first published 2005)
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Michael Anderson
A humorous and endearing story of a master guitarist and luthier, Wayne Henderson, in rural Virginia who is asked to build a Martin-like acoustic for Eric Clapton. Clapton appears on two pages up front and is never seen again. This is a story about building guitars, playing guitars, and tries to explain the love and obsession some people have for the instrument. Full of stories about Henderson and his friends, I was entranced throughout. If you care about guitars, their history, their constructi ...more
Oct 22, 2014 Kayla rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Guitar Builders
Recommended to Kayla by: Appalachian State University
Shelves: 2014-reads
Allen St. Johns book Clapton's Guitar was not as interesting as the title would make you believe. In the book John hardly mentions Eric Clapton. He mainly talks about the wonderfully crafted man building the guitar, Wayne Henderson. Wayne Henderson is a beautiful human and I had the honor of hearing him speak at convocation at Appalachian State University (Go Mountaineers!). If you are interested in learning the technicalities of building a guitar then by all means read this book. If you were ju ...more
Sep 24, 2011 Adan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wrote a review of this elsewhere:

Here's the text:

This book documents the construction of two nearly identical high-end acoustic guitars by a one-man-show guitar builder. There were many aspects of this book that were fascinating to me. One that jumps out, however, is the nature of the product that is being created. This builder is a classic craftsman, a man who has honed his skills over decades of building instruments. However, the guitars are actually
Tom Carrico
Mar 29, 2008 Tom Carrico rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

BY Allen St. John

Reviewed by Tom Carrico

This paperback caught my eye as it sat in the middle of the non-fiction new release table at the Short Pump Barnes and Noble for one reason and one reason only. There is a spectacular looking acoustic guitar on the cover. Although at first glance it appears to be a vintage Martin, the headstock does not have the usual squared off end. Additionally, the name across the headstock was not Martin, but Henderson. What’s a Henderson
Jan 20, 2013 Marilyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book on the sale shelf, thinking my husband or (especially) my guitar-playing son would like to read it. I picked it up myself, the next day after purchase - and didn't like that everyday chores got in the way of my finishing it as quickly as desired. Generally, memoir is the only type of non-fiction that mesmerizes me enough to keep reading like that. The author of this book, Allen St.John, pulls the reader into the entire process of a master luthier (that would be a guitar maker ...more
East Bay J
Jan 01, 2008 East Bay J rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: about-music
Clapton's Guitar is hands down one of the best books I read this year. Though ostensibly a book about a man who builds guitars, Allen St. John takes you to guitar contests, Christie's auction house, the Martin factory in Nazareth, PA and even to Boston's Fenway Park for a showdown between the Red Sox and Yanks. In fact, the breadth of this book is what makes it so special. But the most interesting time is that spent in the workshop of master luthier, Wayne C. Henderson. Whether St. John is descr ...more
Timothy Neesam
Mar 19, 2016 Timothy Neesam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wayne Henderson is a West Virginia luthier responsible for hand-crafting a limited number of acoustic guitars for friends and select individuals. Much of the book revolves around Henderson making a guitar for blues musician Eric Clapton, who never actually makes an appearance and for whose music Henderson is indifferent. We also get many, many yarns about Henderson, the local yokels who gather daily in his workshop, and guitar-making in general. A well-told story about appreciating fine craftsma ...more
Ronald Wise
Jul 24, 2011 Ronald Wise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I finished this book it felt as though I'd just completed an interesting yet relaxing prolonged stay with master luthier Wayne Henderson. I met his friends and family, enjoyed seeing the role bluegrass and old-time music play in his life, and most importantly, watched him at work in his shop.

Author Allen St. John so adeptly describes his experience with Henderson that I could almost smell the wood and glue, and hear the rich sounds coming from his new creations. With no drama or tension, He
Jul 16, 2014 Bjorn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book that gives a special insight into an interesting corner of the guitar-building world. Well written, and full of great characters from the world of american music.

Eric Clapton, in whom I have no interest, is blissfully absent from the book. But I am sure they sold more copies with his name in the title.
Roger Wetlaufer
Sep 05, 2014 Roger Wetlaufer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You would not think there would be enough here for an entire book, but if you like guitars you will find this story fascinating. It is great to get some insight into how the guitar building process occurs and how personal it becomes for the maker.I really enjoyed this look at what might be thought a mundane process.
Toni Taylor-Helser
Jul 28, 2013 Toni Taylor-Helser rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who is a fan of guitarsm Eric Clapton, and music
Shelves: music
March 2013 I rating it 5 of 5 stars
Clapton's Guitar, one of the very best bio's on Clapton's guitars and one of the best books about Epic Eric Clapton & music I have ever read.
The book introduces us to Luthier, a man who builds guitars. The author a sound recording engineer; Allen St. John takes us on many treks through guitar contests, Christi's auction house, the Martin factory in Nazareth, PA. In fact the diversity in topics in this tome of trivia is what made it such a great
I think th
Daelyn Bentley-Gottel
An interesting read that introduced me to an aspect of NC culture I certainly never knew existed, but I felt lost throughout the entire book. If I knew anything about guitars it might have been a little better, since the jargon never lets up. I was constantly flipping back and forth between the page I was on and the diagram up front. Not bad, and Wayne Henderson is definitely a force to be reckoned with, but not my favorite. Then again, I love a good fantasy novel over all, so I may be a bit bia ...more
Mar 26, 2015 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really interesting and personal glimpse into the quirky world of Wayne Henderson, one of the world's great luthiers. Fortunately, Eric Clapton appears in the title and not really anywhere else. I mean, he's a great guy and all, but I'm all about the guitar.
Oct 22, 2013 Noodlze rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book on my ex's recomendation. Not one for biopics or true stories I was skeptical. But Hot damn this book was a great read. I hadn't thought of it till I joined this though. This book really helped me on a number of levels. The expected in guitars. It made me actually interested in construction of guitars. Unexpectedly it threw me into an interest of how they actually worked, no more correctly how sound actually works.

Don't get me wrong this is no instruction manual. This is a telli
Robert Quinn
Sep 02, 2015 Robert Quinn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Two music greats with a guitar in common. Wayne Henderson is a "Luthier Extraordinaire".
Annemarie Beebe
Jun 15, 2014 Annemarie Beebe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chosen for a book club book I was not at all interested in reading this but it was great!
Sep 03, 2014 Rick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating. One the best books I have read in a long time.
Oct 21, 2010 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome book. The Clapton part is really just a hook to talk about a great guitar maker and musician, Wayne Henderson. St. John does a good job getting to who Wayne is, to the extent that can ever be really known through a book. It's also a fond look at the history of quality guitars in the US, especially the CF Martin brand. Unfortunately I started reading it on the first day of a five-day trip, and spent the much of that time wishing I was back home and playing the guitar.
Jake Kline
A book that kind of meandered throughout without much likeliness of a solid plot structure. Arguably a book about the personality of wayne henderson and how it is incorporated into his guitars, claptons guitar wasnt much more than a story of how one man with a ten year waiting list finally got his shit together and built two guitars at once. Not recommended
Apr 10, 2015 Maura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music-and-more
If you're interested in guitars, players and makers, this is a fascinating read. Don't let the title throw you; this is not a book about Clapton. It's about Wayne Henderson, an incredible musician and luthier. I had the good fortune to spend some time with Wayne and he is the real thing. I'm glad I read the book after I met him. I'm not sure I'd have had the guts to hang around and play with him. Lesson learned...
Mar 11, 2012 Thomas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Thomas by: Terry Straker
An extraordinary book! A page-turner. The story of one man (the author) getting to know another (the luthier) as he built two guitars - one for Eric Clapton. Wayne Henderson is an inspiration and Allen St. John was obviously the perfect man to tell his story. It was a pleasure reading this book. There wasn't a wasted sentence! And I hope someday I get the chance to play one of Wayne's guitars!
Karen S.
Aug 25, 2015 Karen S. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alan St. John did an amazing job of capturing the life of Wayne Henderson. Though I don't play, I loved learning about the craft and how Wayne is a true artist & luthier extraordinaire. I've attended several of Wayne's Festivals at Grayson Highland Park and feel blessed to know these wonderful characters. Excellent read. Thank you Alan.
Jan 01, 2011 Geoff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating book that has less to do with Eric Clapton, and everything to do with the art and science of guitar building. The book is very well written, and although the subject may sound dry, it comes alive as a truly fascinating story. I bought many extra copies of this book to give to my friends.
Aug 14, 2007 Kip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: musicians
This is NOT a book about Eric Clapton, but a great story of a master guitar builder. Anyone who plays acoustic music would enjoy this book, but guitar players will LOVE this book. The only thing that would have made it better would be a disk with some sound files of the different guitars.
Wes Metz
Sep 06, 2011 Wes Metz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hang out with Wayne Henderson, master builder, as he constructs two guitars for master player Eric Clapton - one for a charity auction, and one for Clapton himself. Lots of guitar lore, and the inside dope on how a perfect guitar is built. (Not an instruction book on guitar building)
Mar 27, 2008 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in fine craftsmanship
Unfortunatly the first word in the title is the most unimportant part of the book. This is all about Wayne Henderson, master luthier, and the odyssey of Allen St. John to document the creation of the "perfect instrument."

This was a great read, but not for Clapton fans.
Sep 01, 2008 Carrie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love curmudgeons, and Wayne Henderson is nothing if not a curmudgeon of the most wonderful variety. I could just imagine myself sitting in his shop, listening to him and the other guys gab the day away while making some of the finest guitars on earth.
Clark Maddux
Apr 26, 2013 Clark Maddux rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't expect to care much for this book--I read it for a Committee I am on at school--but I was entranced by the work. The writing is richly allusive and the authorial presence is engaging and lively. I read it in one sitting of 4 hours.
Ben Kopetti
Jun 26, 2013 Ben Kopetti rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Come on, this is the perfect guitar geek's book. History, tricks of the trade, shop talk, name dropping. Loved every page of this. Probably best limited to guitar people and crafts-persons, but still...just awesomely fun.
Sep 22, 2008 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting look at what it takes to make an amazing acoustic guitar. I've just gotten quarter-decent with the ukulele. I thing I'll take up the guitar next
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