Book Look: The Birth of Loud

book cover: The Birth of Loud


Written by Ian S. Port

There is one person I thought of often when reading this book, so this is dedicated to my stepdad Steve. I am sending you my copy.

This book should appeal to everyone of the rock 'n' roll generation and beyond, but especially to anyone that knows a thing or to about electric guitars. And if you own a Fender or a Gibson - read this - and you'll never see it the same. Ever.

One fascinating aspect of this book is how Leo Fender and Les Paul's lives crossed leading up to the first actual solid body electric guitar being played on stage, which -spolier alert- neither one built. Their personalities were so polar opposite, it's amazing they could stand each other: Leo Fender the electronics introvert in his lab all day; Les Paul the guitarist & bullshit artist on stage all night.

The intertwined paths of those that pioneered rock and roll music is well documented. But now we have this book - it could be the first of its kind - to connects the dots regarding how those musicians got these new-fanged electric guitars (and other important innovations) in their hands - and how they used them to make their music sound even more unique.

Some not-so random quotes and passages:

"And that is where their friendship turned competitive. Soon Leo Fender and Les Paul were focused on - even obsessed with, as only people like the two of them could be - the challenges of electric guitars. They met on Les's patio [Hollywood, Ca] on Sunday afternoons to listen to the players and discuss ideas. Les had built his Log; Leo had constructed his black radio shop instrument. Both knew there was a major advance on the horizon for the electric guitar, that the present limits on its volume and tone would somehow have to be overcome. They were chasing the sound of music's future."


"At Dale's request, Leo took a Hammond reverb tank and placed in a standalone box. Dale ran his voice through it. Suddenly, he "was able to sing and sound like Elvis," he remembered. Next, almost on a lark, Dale tried tried running his Stratocaster through the reverb. Dale and Leo knew in an instant that they'd found something even more amazing. Dale's crisp electric guitar was transformed into a smear of tonal color. The sharpness of the Fender Stratocaster blurred by the wet atmosphere of the reverb made for a thrilling juxtaposition, like a knife gleaming underwater."


"Though entirely the creation of Gibson designers, not Les himself, the prototype solid-body shared profound similarities with Les Paul. Both stood as conservative radicals within their historical moment, pursuing new ideas without violating current standards of respectability."


"Even the guitar's sound was conservative, mimicking the mellow tones that hollow-body electric guitars employed in jazz. A Fender Telecaster might scream or twang or even howl; it could certainly offend some ears. As envisioned by its creators in 1951, this Gibson model was almost incapable of producing an ugly or unbalanced sound. It was a solid-body electric with non of the raffishness or bellicosity of the Fender; a guitar for tuxedos and velvet-curtained theaters rather than ten-gallon hats and dusty honky-tonks."


See it on the Simon & Schuster website:

Comments (5) -

Steve Burne
Steve Burne 3/10/2019 1:05:03 PM

Love your Mrs. Marbles piece... sad to see her age catching up to her though.  "Birth of Loud"... Oh yeah, I can't wait to see the two masters  banging heads over bags of minutia.  I am currently dividing my reading time with "Reversing Parkinson's", Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" and one about the "cozy" style of life in Denmark.  

We are currently set in eight inches of new snow that frames a set of fox tracks leading from the woods in back to the back of the house where the  Miata sets wrapped for winter's best.


Thanks Steve, Mrs. M continues to delight and frustrate as any family member would :_)

Your reading list sounds good, surprised that you've got Rachel Carson in there, NICE!

Look for the hardcover coming your way in the mail, let me know what you think. Did you ever own a Fender Precision bass?  The book gives Fender huge props on bringing this instrument to market.

Be well, we miss you and Mom!!

Steve Burne
Steve Burne 3/11/2019 1:24:18 AM

There have been many occasions when I wished I had gone for the Precision Bass instead of the Framus hollow body that I bought in 1966, but there were just as many times that I appreciated the spread of sound and light weight of the Framus Star.  I later shelved the Framus and went to a Japanese version of the Les Paul bass.  Of course I have always had "Bertha" (upright acoustic) at the ready for big band, folk, polka, orchestral, and small group jazz.

Steve Burne
Steve Burne 3/11/2019 5:32:12 AM

Back to my reading list: a while back I was chatting with Nick about his chosen focus of studies being environmental engineering  and I mentioned "Silent Spring" asking if he had read it.  Nick spun around a said, "That's what started this whole thing."  And so I began my story:
I was born the seventh child in 1945.  In 1948 my father bought a pull-along chemical sprayer for spraying insecticide over the dozen or so fruit trees (apple, peach, pear) the latest and greatest of spray chemicals was of course DDT.  In the shade of one of the  apple trees was a pile of sand for my brother Tom and me to enjoy and grow. So this meant that our toy trucks, cars, boats and airplanes were recipients of a good dose of poison every two weeks or so.
It was not until 1962 when the first pages of "Silent Spring" hit the streets amidst a humble beginning.  Or, as Nick called it: "What started the whole thing."  And I call: "a slow ride to the last station" as we deal with the likes of Parkinson's Disease.  And this is where I would cut in a few bars of Hendricks playing "Don't Cry For Me Argentina"  


The things we do to our environment. Thanks for sharing that story. I am reminded of this:

“I don't really believe that humans are evil; it is just that we are not very intelligent animals. No animal is so stupid as to foul its only nest, except humans.”
― Yvon Chouinard

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