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Review: Making Stringed Instruments — A Workshop Guide by George Buchanan

Review: Making Stringed Instruments — A Workshop Guide by George Buchanan

Reviewed by C.F. Casey

Originally published in American Lutherie #26, 1991 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Three, 2004

Making Stringed Instruments — A Workshop Guide
George Buchanan
Sterling Publishing Co., 205 pp.
ISBN 0-8069-7464-8

You don’t have to look at the publishing information to know this is a British book. You don’t even have to depend on the usual vocabulary clues. In fact, they’re not even all here. The book uses “clamps” rather than the dead-giveaway “cramps,” although it does refer to “timber” rather than “lumber.” It’s the style, that unmistakable tone typical of English do-it-yourself books: not exactly formal, not exactly old-fashioned (in fact, the book was first published in 1989), but just subtly different in flavor from its North American counterparts.

It’s more than just diction and syntax that make this book different, it’s the approach to the material. As the title suggests, the book is about a variety of instruments: violin, viola, and cello; mandolin and mandola; and classical and archtop guitars. However, rather than treating each instrument more or less independently, as most books of this type seem to do, Buchanan spends fully half the book dealing with the violin and viola, and then adds comparatively short chapters covering those aspects of the other instruments which are different from the violin. He does spend somewhat more time on the mandolin and mandola, as the first flat-top-and-back instruments in the book.

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