Book Review: Hawaiian Guitar

John W Troutman – Kika Kila: How The Hawaiian Steel Guitar Changed The Sound Of Modern Music (University of North Carolina Press)

Kika Kila: How The Hawaiian Steel Guitar Changed The Sound Of Modern Music cover artwork

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Historian and steel guitarist Troutman sets out the development of steel guitar in 19th century Hawaii.

A wild ride follows that sees Hawaiian music become an international phenomenon and Sol Ho’opi’i a pioneering guitar hero.

From there, Hawaiian guitar’s huge popularity plays a profound role in the development of country music (lap steel) and blues (slide guitar). Yet as Hawaiian music got relegated to tourist kitsch it fell out of favour, both internationally and at home.

Superbly written, beautifully illustrated and packed with anecdotes, this remarkable book is a gem and should find a readership far beyond guitar obsessives.