American Lutherie #111  cover shows Robert Spear doing a glitter test
American Lutherie #111
Fall 2012

This issue’s cover shows violin maker Robert Spear using a small loudspeaker, a signal generator, and some glitter to find the modes of vibration in a cello top. His technique, now well known in the violin making and guitar making communities, was taught to him by physics and lutherie pioneer Carleen Hutchins.
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Vintage Bridge restoration Vintage Restoration: Playability and Collectability by Joe Konkoly from his 2011 GAL Convention lecture
Joe looks at getting the details right on vintage steel string guitar bridge and nut replacements, and then talks about the major modification for which he is known: replacing the carved top of an old Martin archtop with an authentic-style flat soundboard.

Robert Spear Meet the Maker: Robert Spear by Roger Alan Skipper
Robert Spear worked with two lutherie mentors who could not have been more different. One was German-trained Karl Roy, and the other was the self-taught American maverick Carleen Hutchins. Robert learned a lot from each of them, individually. Today he specializes in instruments of the New Violin Family, an octet of carefully sized fiddles from tiny to huge designed by Hutchins.

Karl Roy An Appreciation of Karl Roy by Robert Spear
Spear met his mentor in 1974 when Karl Roy came over from Germany to guest-teach a summer seminar at the University of New Hampshire. At that time Roy was the director of the German state violin making school. He returned every summer for decades and had a major impact on the course of American violin making.

Robert Spear gluing a brace in place on a violin Bob's Workshop: Glitter and Glue by Cyndy Burton
Here's a little closeup how-to info from opposite poles of Robert Spear's violin making experience. He glues in a bass bar with hide glue and wooden clamps, then fires up the signal generator to measure the shape and frequency of vibration modes in a cello top.

CAD drawing of a guitar by R.M. Mottola Fretboard/Top Plate Geometry of the Flattop Guitarby R.M. Mottola
When designing a flattop guitar, calculating the height of a bridge or the pitch of a neck can get complicated when you add in factors like top doming, fretboard taper, and neck relief. But with R.M. Mottola as your spirit guide in this spooky forest of equations, you will brave any danger.

Don Bradley Meet the maker: Don Bradley by Tom Harper
Don Bradley attended the Roberto-Venn school in 1976 and has been a GAL member since 1977. He keeps llamas and has driven a fully electric car for many years. And if you do glitter testing (aka free plate tuning) you most likely use a signal generator that he built.

Old photo of Deb and Tim and the Guild Headquarters On the GAL's 40th Anniversary: How It All Began by Deb Olsen
Here at GAL World Headquarters, we try not to spend a lot of time or page space blowing our own horns. Last time we did so was a full twenty years ago, so we thought maybe it was OK to tell a few stories on ourselves for a change. It has been forty years since some teenage kids mimeographed the first issue of what has grown to become the world's foremost lutherie journal. If you want to know the secret of the GAL's success, it's right there on page 59.

A spiral rainbow guitar rosette Making a Spiral Rainbow Rosette by David Freeman
Longtime GAL member, luthier, and lutherie teacher David Freeman has found a way to make the rings around a rosette in a spiral form instead of concentric rings. He shows how it's done and suggests some interesting decorative possibilities.

Laminating guitar sides Visual Overview for Making Laminated Sides by Larry Breslin
Larry shows us his process of laminating guitar sides from three veneers in fourteen step-by-step photos and some concise text.

How to artificially age your screws for a solidbody guitar It Worked for Me by Eron Harding, Jason Rodgers, and Jean Francois Noel
Age your new screws for use on vintage solidbody guitars by dipping them in acid. Make a dust hood for your Wagner Safe-T-Planer. Make a bracket to hold a solidbody guitar while spraying it.

Questions Edited by R.M. Mottola
We get to answers to questions about guitar neck stability in humidity change; top thickness in flattop acoustic basses; keeping ebony dust from staining spruce tops; bending sides with steam; financial realities and the lutherie life; and cracks in rosewood.

Joseph R. Johnson Memoriam In Memoriam: Joseph R. Johnson by Deb Olsen
Joe Johnson was just a great guy, and we are glad we knew him. Back in 1987 he suggested the GAL hold its national convention at the Shrine to Music Museum where he was serving as Museum Educator. With his expert help it turned out to be a great idea, and we held conventions there in 1988 and 1992. Read his memoriam.

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