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Review: 1996 & 1997 Luthier’s Art

Review: 1996 The Luthier’s Art & 1997 The Luthier’s Art

Reviewed by Woody Vernice

Originally published in American Lutherie #55, 1998

1996 The Luthier’s Art & 1997 The Luthier’s Art
String Letter Publishing
1996: 111 pages
1997: 141 pages, ISBN 1-890490-01-6
$19.95 per volume
Available from Acoustic Guitar magazine

These two lovely collections of instrument photos represent the participants of the Healdsburg Guitar Festivals of their respective years. Since the books came out well before the events, it’s obvious that the photos were submitted by the luthiers and weren’t taken at the shows. I’m sure the photos are better for it, but these aren’t necessarily the guitars you would have seen at the festivals.

As one of the sponsors of the festivals, Acoustic Guitar magazine has tried hard to make the guitar a cultural icon and the festivals a matter of artistic importance. These books are compiled to look like gallery or auction catalogs. The layout is formal and the photographic reproduction very good. If the collection is biased towards Left Coastians, the books are more interesting for it. The progressives and weirdoes lend an air of excitement and airiness to the pages, though they may send some staid readers on a quick search for a Martin copy just to regain their balance. All in all, however, there seems to be a lot more luthiers happily chugging away within the tradition than pushing the envelope. This is a pretty bunch of instruments with enough ideas in either volume to keep any builder thinking for a long time. The photo spread is followed by a short biography of each luthier.

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