Out-of-Print-Book-Report: “The Guitars Friend” 1977

Download a thirteen-page excerpt from “The Guitars Friend” (no author credited), Quick Fox publishers, ISBN# 0-8256-3072-X:

DOWNLOAD: GuitarsFriend_Elec


Billed alternately as a ‘Catalog’ and a ‘Guide,’ “The Guitars Friend” (h.f. “TGF”) is a charming artifact of the late-hippie-era.  From the self-description offered in the book, TGF began as a mail-order catalog begun by former (owners or employees – unclear) of ‘Music, Strings, and Things’  a Detroit-area music store.  Seems that these retailers wanted to move to the country, and they took their business with them.  A few years later, they had stopped the mail-order business and took to solely publishing this guidebook to current musical instruments.  We’re not trying to sell you anything, man.  Just sharing.  (Although they apparently will sell you much of the gear if you write to them?  it’s all very vague.) Check it out in their own words:

The entire 180-pp volume is entirely hand-lettered and largely hand-illustrated.  It’s a pretty fantastic relic of the post-woodstock-youth generation as well as the back-to-the-land movement.

The book features descriptions and advice concerning mainly acoustic instruments, but there is a good ten pages devoted to electric guitars (no mention of amps and effects).  I’ve included the electric bits in their entirety in the download link at the head of this article.  Guitars depicted and discussed include: Ibanez Firebrand, Rocket Roll, MoonLight 59, F.M. Jr, Howie Roberts, Rick Bass, Old-Style Strat, and Strato Model; Gibson Les Paul Custom, Les Paul Deluxe, ES 335, SG Custom, Standard, L6S, and the Gibson Ripper and Grabber Bass; Fender Stratocaster, Telecaster, Mustang, Precision, Jazz, and Mustang Bass (es); Rickenbacker 4001; The Seagull Guitar, described as being built by Bernardo Rico (better known in the 80s as B.C. Rich);The Travis Bean TB1000 Standard and Deluxe; The Sunrise Electric Guitar (no model name given; made in Kalamazoo MI); and finally the Alembic Long Scale Bass and guitar, a steal at $1750 (that’s $6200 dollars in today’s bread).

Anyhow.  DL the file and give it a look…  some of the writing is pretty amazing; as in the discussion of Ibanez, who were then churning out thousands of what we now term ‘lawsuit guitars’:

“The Ibanez people…can make a copy of almost any stringed instrument and make it as good but cheaper than the original…The only complaint people seem to have is status-wise – that it is a Japanese copy.  Once they get past their own ego and conditioning, they are amazed at the quality.”

Let go of yr hangups and order a copy of “The Guitars Friend.”  Four currently available on Amazon dot com.

12 thoughts on “Out-of-Print-Book-Report: “The Guitars Friend” 1977”

  1. The original owners were Lawrence and Lieb Ostrow. I did all the photography for the catalog. I still have the original catalog. Good times! They eventually left Stockbridge Michigan to relocate in Sandpoint Idaho.

    1. I met and became very good friends with Lawrence when I lived outside of Sandpoint Idaho in the late 70’s. I have totally lost touch with him since. Is he living in Moscow, Idaho now and do you know his last name? I cannot remember it and that would greatly help in finding him. Thanks!

  2. I kept their second edition (which was printed “landscape” layout, to use modern jargon) and have done my best to keep it intact. For some ungodly reason I lost the first edition.

    It is an absolute treasure, and when I hear the term “wooden music” the pictures and photo come to mind immediately. In high school I once got a really nice, friendly, and folksy note from Lawrence when he responded to a question I had–I hope I still have the note. They all looked like good people. I google “Guitars Friend” on occation and always get routed to the mega-sized Musicians Friend. It’s nice to find this post!

  3. A friend of mine won $14,800 in a casino one night and spent it all on an Alembic guitar. it was absolutely beautiful. It was also the heaviest, deadest sounding screechy guitar I have ever played or seen. The basses are tolerable, if heavy, buit why anyone would have the guitar is eyond me.

    He still has it because the highest offer he’s ever had for it from a dealer is something just over two grand. Pretty bad resale, too.

  4. I bought my first real guitar from The Guitar’s Friend in 1975. It was a Yamaha FG260 12 string. I was a junior at Iowa State Univeristy. Those were the days. I wish they were still around today.

  5. I still have my copy. Got it in the mid-70’s and liked it so much I visited the store in Sandpoint when hitchhiking out west (I’m from Maryland). Fell in love with a Franklin guitar they were selling, wasn’t planning on buying anything — didn’t know of the guitar before I arrived, they put it in my hands saying “we really like these guitars, and the guy who makes them does that here” — but when I got home I ordered one and I’ve still got it. Along with a soft spot in my heart for a beautiful place in the Northwest.

  6. Leib and Laury (I think it was Laury) played at my sister Sheila Ryan’s wedding in Hortonville, Indiana (north of Indianapolis) back in 1975. I think Leib and Laury were traveling across the country that summer. Sheila did the artwork for at least one of the Guitar’s Friend catalogs. Peter, her husband, made guitars and dulcimers. I always thought they set up shop in San Francisco around Haight and Ashbury.

  7. Guitars Friend was my creation. After that Chi Pants and Dancing Helix. You can find me at the web site above. It means a lot to me, to see how our creative effort during a very special time and place has meaning for others.

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