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Making a Weissenborn-Style Guitar

Making a Weissenborn-style Guitar

by John Calkin

previously published in American Lutherie #102, 2010

“You shouldn’t write a Weissenborn story,” said Lamar Scomp, “’cuz I don’t want to build one.” Lamar tends to take everything personally, and the rest of humanity be damned.

“You didn’t want to build a dulcimer either, until I twisted your arm. But you had fun with it, didn’t you?” I said.


“And didn’t you tell me that playing dulcimer was making you a better guitar player?”

“Yeah,” said Lamar suspiciously, like he could see the trap in front of him and knew he was going to step in it anyway.

“Well, a Weissenborn is sort of the ultimate dulcimer on its way to becoming a guitar. The plates are flat, but braced like a guitar. My version has no taper to the sides, just like a dulcimer. Since it’s meant to be played with a slide, there are no frets to mess with, and setting the high action is a breeze. And it’s fun to play. I think you should check out some ace players on YouTube. You’ll be impressed.”

“I don’t believe nothin’ I see online. It’s all computerized trickery,” he said.

“OK, Lamar. But the Weissenborn is your next step on the way to making guitars. I think you need to build one.”

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