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A Laminated Neck Design

A Laminated Neck Design

by Tim Olsen

previously published as Guild of American Luthiers Data Sheet #50, 1977 and in Lutherie Woods and Steel String Guitars, 1997



The most obvious way to make a neck is to start with a chunk of wood big enough in every dimension to engulf the entire completed neck, then simply chip away at the block until only the neck remains. The advantage to this is that there is no joinery to perform and no joints which might fail or look sloppy. More importantly, those who distrust the integrity of laminations, whether structural or acoustical, will opt for this procedure. The disadvantage is, of course, the considerable waste.

The waste can be reduced by using a block of wood which will accommodate the widest portion of the fretboard, then adding wood to the peghead through the use of “ears” as in Fig. 1.

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South American Rosewood

South American Rosewood

by John Jordan

Originally published in American Lutherie #4, 1985 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume One, 2000



Rosewoods are among the most beautiful of all woods. Although they are native to tropical and semitropical climates around the world, we will deal in this article with those native to Central and South America. They are typically hard, very dense, and often resinous woods weighing 50–80 lb./cu. ft. One cubic foot (cu. ft.) is equal to 12 bd. ft. Because of their weight, they are expensive to ship; consequently the number of South American rosewoods available to the wood market in the U.S. will be greater than the number of African or Asian varieties due to our proximity to South and particularly Central America.

To quickly dispel some misconceptions: rose­wood trees do not produce rose-like flowers, nor are they close relatives of the Rosecae (flowering rose) family. The name rosewood is derived from the fact that the wood, especially when fresh cut, exudes a rose-like scent.

Several varieties of rosewoods were being exported for furniture, fine cabinetry, musical instruments, fine carving, and turnery long before botanical identification was established in the tropics. A Swedish botanist named Nicholas Dalberg (1735–1820) was credited with discovering that these rosewoods were close botanical relatives, hence the genus is named Dalbergia. The genus Dalbergia has over 300 species. I have gathered information on over 100 species, 15 of which, including the most popular ones, are represented here.

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World Outlook, a Merchant’s View

World Outlook, a Merchant’s View

by Michael Gurian

Originally published in Guild of American Luthiers Quarterly, Volume 7 #3, 1979 and Lutherie Woods and Steel String Guitars, 1997



Editor’s Note: The following article was distilled from Michael Gurian’s 1979 GAL Convention lecture. At that time Mr. Gurian was perhaps the leading lutherie wood supplier in the country. The update which follows it is from a 1995 interview with Michael Gurian by David Hill.

Availability. How much wood is really left? My answer is there are weak areas, but there is still wood. Everyone knows about the Brazilian rosewood situation. Some people swear Brazil still has mountains and mountains of rosewood that’s not been cut. There is, but it’s not the true Brazilian rosewood.

The availability of Indian rosewood is a little shaky right now and becoming more and more limited. That species of Indian grows in other parts of the world, so I figure the supply of Indian will continue for a number of years. Hundreds and hundreds of species of good quality rosewood can be had for instruments. It’s just a matter of letting people know which are good and which are bad and how available from which country.

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Two Tips on Pearl Inlay

Two Tips on Pearl Inlay

by Steve Goodale

Originally published as Guild of American Luthiers Data Sheet #104, 1979 and Lutherie Woods and Steel String Guitars, 1997



When cutting a pattern, Scotch brand double-stick two-sided tape is great for holding the pattern on the pearl. Just cut through the pattern and the tape; it doesn’t seem to interfere in the least.

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Tamburitzas

Tamburitzas

by Nick Hayden

Originally published as Guild of American Luthiers Data Sheet #18, 1975



This is a run down on the Tamburitza family. This instrument came first from Yugoslavia, mostly from Croatia. In the past 25 years there has been hundreds of children’s junior groups formed in the U.S., from New York to California. Most of the Tamburitzas are made in this country by men like me. Some people order from Europe, but those are factory made.

There is a university here in Pittsburg which has had a Tamburitza group for over 30 years. They travel all over the world.

I know they travel out your way to perform, so watch the paper, and you can see them.

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