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3 March 2012

Hearts & Hands (1999)

Yesterday I picked up a book by the name of Hearts & Hands: Musical Instrument Makers of America. I started flicking through it in a charity shop and before you could say 'hot diggity damn' I'd bought it!

Being a photography book, I'm reluctant to post too much of the content. But what sort of review would this be without a few samples? As a halfway house I've decided to take pictures of some of the pages. I've purposely left them distorted and out-of-focus so you can get the gist, but that's about it.

The following picture was the shot that made me realise that I just had to have this book...

Jerry King and his banjo
Hearts & Minds, Jake Jacobson 1999

This book is what is termed a 'coffee-table book'. It's huge! If you stuck legs on it, you could turn it into a coffee-table!

Inside is a collection of photos taken by Jake Jacobson over a three year period in the late 90s. His project was to document some of the people who make musical instruments in America. It covers mainly small-scale outfits, but there are a few notable commercial entries too (like Steinways and Zildjian). I must admit that my heart's more with the amateurs, but I enjoyed it all. Jake covers most of the US, but has predominantly concentrated on the East coast. I would have loved to have seen an Hawaiian entry Jake!

Ken Butler makes instruments out of anything and everything
Check out the gun-cellos
Hearts & Minds, Jake Jacobson 1999

It's no surprise that my interest is in the instruments, but I was taken by some of the characters too. Most pictures are accompanied by quotes from the instrument makers that reveal as much as the photos themselves:
"I tell ya, this rock-n-roll, them people that call it music, don't have any more talent than one of them chickens up yonder..." - Arlin Moon
As you might expect, I was keeping an eye out for banjos, ukes and guitars. There's a fairly good smattering, but this book is not limited to any one type of instrument. I was particularly interested in the glimpses of workshops and some of the half-finished instruments. I would have loved to have seen more.

Harry N Edmonds and his amazing curly guitar
Hearts & Minds, Jake Jacobson 1999

Peter Whitehead with some beautiful lines
Hearts & Minds, Jake Jacobson 1999

Some ukes in Constandino 'Dino' Bersis' Workshop
Hearts & Minds, Jake Jacobson 1999

Lloyd "Butch" Heidt in his busy Man Cave
Hearts & Minds, Jake Jacobson 1999

On the Triple-B I'm simply going to recommend that you get hold of a copy and give it a flick-through. I reckon you could read this at least 6 times.

And if you can get a copy for 3 quid like I did... Buy, Buy, Buy!


  1. Looks really really good, you lucky lego man!