Historical Lute Construction
by Robert Lundberg
Photographs by Robert Lundberg and Jonathon Peterson
Cover of Historical Lute Construction by Robert Lundberg
Robert Lundberg’s landmark book, Historical Lute Construction, is by far the most comprehensive and authoritative work on the subject of understanding and constructing authentic lutes. The material in this remarkable book originated with the Erlangen Lautenbaukurs, an annual seminar presented by Lundberg in Erlangen, Germany beginning in 1978, which were then presented, along with a complete step-by-step instruction in lute construction, as a series of nineteen articles presented in American Lutherie over a seven-year span (1987-1994). These articles were then revised, expanded, and augmented into this definitive book form by the GAL Staff and Mr. Lundberg before he passed away in 2001.

Organized in two sections. “Section One: The Erlangen Lectures” covers the historic development of the lute from the 15th through the 18th centuries with over 100 photos of ancient lutes taken by Lundberg and 50 diagrams. “Section Two: Practicum” covers the construction of the lute in minute detail with over 600 step-by-step photographs by Jonathon Peterson and a dozen diagrams. Appendices include the Erlangen Series lute plans (complete reduced images of seven lute plans drawn for the GAL by Robert Lundberg); list of ancient lutemakers, catalog of extant ancient European lutes, glossary, bibliography, practicum summary, and index.

Robert Lundberg’s encyclopedic knowledge, insightful analysis, and mastery of woodworking techniques grew out of a distinguished 30-year career in which he examined and measured over 250 extant ancient lutes and built hundreds of fine instruments. This is a book about the soul of lutherie. In these pages you will stand at the workbench of a master luthier as he shares with you in detail the fruits of a distinguished career of scholarship and craft. It will be a rich source of inspiration to any luthier. The insights, information, and techniques in Historical Lute Construction will broaden every instrument maker’s horizons and change the way they look at musical instruments. It is a unique resource of tremendous value to makers of all kinds of string instruments and belongs in the library of every serious luthier. Robert Lundberg spent fifteen years in close collaboration with the GAL staff to produce Historical Lute Construction. It is a monument to his understanding, scholarship, and skill, as well as his support of the Guild’s mission of information sharing.

Hardcover, 280 pages, B&W photos and reduced plan drawings.
Members $65, Nonmembers $72

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Praise for Historical Lute Construction:

...Historical Lute Construction... offers a wealth of invaluable and relevant information for the general reader who is interested in the craft of instrument making from the 16th through the 18th centuries. [...] The author’s readable and engaging text is accompanied by hundreds of photos, diagrams, and informative captions; his direct, conversational writing style reflects his personality and his natural gifts as a teacher. [...] Even the reader with only a casual interest in mathematical design will marvel at Lundberg’s lucid description of the geometry of barring arrangements, wood thickness graduations, and rose designs, all laid out with full-page diagrams and photographs.
    — American Musical Instrument Society

For those of us not privileged to personally know Robert Lundberg, within the pages of Historical Lute Construction we share an indelible sense of pride in our craft. For the rest of the civilized world, behold one of the many wonders provided to you by an esteemed colleague. Lundberg ardently details past and present achievements of the world’s finest lute makers, chronicling the instrument’s long and elegant history.
    — Robert Benedetto, Archtop Guitar Maker

I learned more about guitar making from this than from most of what I’ve read in the past fifteen years put together. And I do a lot of reading. This is a window into Lundberg’s total mastery over his subject. It’s awe inspiring. The information in historical perspective is peppered with little how-to masterpieces. From conceptualization to realization, each little aspect of making the lute is covered. This is the fusion of left and right brain. Totally absorbing!
    — Dana Bourgeois, Flattop Guitar Maker

Robert Lundberg’s exemplary research into historical lute construction and his willingness to share this with the lutherie community set the highest example of dedication our art has seen. I hope every luthier will acquire this magnificent book and study it thoroughly, not just for the specific historical documentation regarding the lute family, but more importantly, for the thorough approach to lutherie which this book so eloquently advocates.
    — R.E. Bruné‚ Classic Guitar Maker

Robert Lundberg spent much of his adult life studying historic lutes and using that knowledge to build lutes patterned on the wonderful examples he found in museums and collections. This book is a rare combination of scholarship and practical how-to by a master craftsman who loved to build instruments and, more importantly for us, loved to share that knowledge. Anyone with the least interest in woodworking or historical instruments will find treasure here.
    — Cyndy Burton, Classic Guitar Maker

Bob Lundberg was one of the best luthiers who ever lived, and of those, certainly one of the best informed. I await with great anticipation the arrival of this treasure of information.
    — Robert Cooper, Pioneer Lute Maker/Author

Robert Lundberg was known as a meticulous researcher and craftsperson. I wish he’d been involved in violins instead of lutes — the violin field could use more people like him. Nevertheless, his lute construction series was so interesting, well-done, and unique, I think the book should be in every string instrument maker’s library as an example of how to look at and appreciate any stringed instrument. Many of his attitudes about lute construction transfer directly to working with violins, and I imagine should also give guitar makers a lot to think about.
    — Michael Darnton, Violin Maker

A magnificent, definitive, comprehensive, historical study of lutes and their construction. Useful information for makers of all stringed instruments. A great legacy by a great maker and scholar.
    — Jeff Elliott, Classic Guitar Maker

If you can’t build a lute with this information, there’s some kind of major impairment involved. I’ll buy it even though I don’t build any lutes. Beautiful, methodical presentation; very impressive. Sequence of events, concept of process that produces optimal results. Great addition to any guitar maker’s reference library.
    — John Greven, Flattop Guitar Maker

Only in vast portions of time are icons written on any given subject. This is one of them. No matter what instrument you are associated with, this book offers such great insight and experience that one couldn’t help but absorb something from it. There’s some goodness here for everyone.
    — John Monteleone, Archtop Guitar Maker

Robert Lundberg’s book is a completely professional presentation of a complex body of material. Lavishly illustrated through Jon Peterson’s intelligent photography, Historical Lute Construction will be a useful book in any luthier’s library. Even for instrument makers who will never make a lute, it’s a must for seeing what wonderful work can be accomplished in a low-tech way if one is only willing to learn the skills.
    — Ervin Somogyi, Flattop Guitar Maker

To have a lifetime of working knowledge about historical lutes, their materials and measurements is a great resource, but to have it with the practical information needed to build fine period instruments in one book, that is beyond price. Bob Lundberg’s legacy is not just his study of the instruments of the past, or indeed the wonderful lutes and guitars he built, it is also his de-construction of the methods of old luthiers. Only the GAL could put this on paper and pass Bob’s wealth of experience to those who want to make lutes.
    — Clive Titmuss, Lute Maker

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