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Review: Build a Steel String Guitar with Robert O’Brien by Robert O’Brien

Review: Build a Steel String Guitar with Robert O’Brien by Robert O’Brien

Reviewed by John Calkin

Originally published in American Lutherie #84, 2005 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Seven, 2015

Build a Steel String Guitar with Robert O’Brien
Robert O’Brien
Apprentice Publishing, DVD, 2005 or LMI

This DVD will henceforth be included with LMI steel string guitar kits. Because I have some criticisms of it, I’d like to make a couple things clear at the start. I’ve built and reviewed kits from several companies, and I believe that for the first-time builder they are the way to go. I’m especially fond of kits that include joined plates, installed rosettes, bent sides, and a slotted fretboard. A shaped neck is also OK, but an adventurous first-timer can deal with shaping a neck. My point is that no matter how accomplished an individual is as a woodworker, it can’t be accepted that lutherie is a natural next step. It’s just too different. A good kit can smooth the stormy seas that arise when one faces the creation of their first guitar. I’m a believer.

I’m also a believer in video instruction. It pains me to say so, but I believe that books have had their day. Live interactive instruction is best. Video/film is next. Books are a distant third. If you suspect that a terminal failure of the power grid will resurrect the importance of books, I surrender to your paranoia (you are obviously a fan of Lucifer’s Hammer by Niven and Pournelle). Barring a natural catastrophe of global scale, electronic instruction is here to stay and I salute it.

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