A very heavy package arrived yesterday. Lo and behold, it was Nacho Banos’s (and Lynn Wheelwright’s) new “book” on the earliest Fender guitars, called The Pinecaster Book. Several years ago, Nacho wrote a book on Telecasters called The Blackguard Book that sort of redefined how guitar books should be approached. Nacho took it where no one had dared—insanely detailed photographs, an abundance of exuberance regarding the history and timeline of these instruments, and a level of QUALITY that felt like you were handling the Rolls Royce of books.
The Pinecaster Book takes this approach ever further. It’s completely INSANE! Technically, it’s not A book—it’s FOUR books, all enclosed in a tweed-print case. Technically, the book is about the very first pine-body Fender solidbody guitars and prototypes, made in 1949 and 1950 as the company made its first attempts at marketing a solidbody electric guitar.
However, Nacho and Lynn Wheelwright took this idea and made it into a magnum opus of guitar history. One book is dedicated to the earliest history of electric guitars, covering all the makers from Ro-Pat-In to Vivi-Tone to Stromberg-Voisinet in the 1920s and 1930s and examining how these early attempts at making electric guitars eventually led the way to what Leo Fender made famous. The second book is about the guitars that led up to the first Fenders, including Bigsby’s pioneering instruments in the late 1940s and Leo Fender’s earliest prototypes and test ideas—including the Junior Barnard Epiphone that I turned up in Fresno a few years ago. Nacho, Lynn, and I all agree that Junior Barnard’s Epiphone, modded by Leo Fender in 1947, was the “test mule” instrument for what would become the Fender Esquire aka “Telecaster” prototype instrument two years later. This second book also contains hundreds of pages detailing every known example of the pine-body instruments made by Fender In 1949 and 1950, as well as details on Fender’s earliest steel guitars, amplifiers, and electric basses.
The third book is somewhat a revamp of The Blackguard Book, with hundreds and hundreds of pages dedicated to the Ash Body Broadcasters/Esquires/No-Casters/Telecasters made between 1950 and 1954. The fourth and final book is called “Nitty Gritty,” and boy, it’s a whole new level of geek! It is an entire book dedicated to studying the various parts used on Fender guitars from 1949 to 1954: screws, pickguards, knobs, potentiometers, tuners, etc. etc.
A really amazing bonus is the interactive app. Throughout the book, there are QR codes that you scan with your phone, and—voila! You can watch videos of people (including myself, Redd Volkaert, and a host of amazing players) demonstrating the very instruments that you’re reading about. The app also has a BUNCH of additional photos and videos of guitars that aren’t included in the book. This aspect really feels groundbreaking—taking this level of insanity into the future. It’s really well done, too; no amateur-hour stuff here. If that weren’t enough, the four books are filled with illustrations by Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top.
So….is the book (okay, are the BOOKS) expensive? Yes, insanely expensive. Is it worth it? If you appreciate this level of craftsmanship, detail, and quality, you’ll think the price is a bargain. I’ve never seen anything like it. It is truly the Rolls Royce of guitar books. It makes everything else I’ve seen look positively rinky-dink in comparison. I am really honored that I was asked to be a part of this book.
Congratulations to Nacho Banos and Lynn Wheelwright for taking such an ambitious concept all the way to fruition! Order here: thepinecasterbook.com