Posted on

Electronic Answer Man, Part 1

Electronic Answer Man, Part 1

by Rick Turner

Originally published in American Lutherie #29–31 and #33–36, 1992 and 1993



Electronic Answer Man, Part 2 by Rick Turner (can be seen in Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume 4)


Can you explain pickup phase and polarity? How does coil polarity relate to hum and humbucking? I have heard that it is possible to achieve hum canceling in a Strat. How is this done?

Let’s start by trying to understand the basics of “absolute phase.” The easiest example is not a guitar, but rather a drum. Imagine putting a mike in front of a bass drum, running the mike through a mixer, power amp, and finally a set of loudspeakers. As the drum is struck, the drumhead first moves forward, then back. The first cycle of a sonic wave consisting of first pressurized, then rarefied air moves out from the drum head and intercepts the mike.

Become A Member to Continue Reading This Article

This article is part of our premium web content offered to Guild members. To view this and other web articles, join the Guild of American Luthiers. Members also receive 4 annual issues of American Lutherie and get discounts on products. For details, visit the membership page.

If you are already a member, login for access or contact us to setup your account.
Posted on

Little Dobro

Little Dobro

by John Calkin

Published online by Guild of American Luthiers, November 2022

 

I bet that a lot of instrument makers don't know what their hourly wage is. I came with this idea for a resonator guitar with the idea of making a specific wage. The body, including the perforated ring that supports the resonator cone, was made of construction-grade plywood. The neck and fingerboard stock was sourced locally in bulk. The body hardware came from StewMac and the machines from Schaller. The textured paint required no work after it was sprayed from the can, though the necks were lacquered normally. The rosette was made of shark teeth that I got from my friend Cousin Al (who wasn't my cousin at all.)

It was not difficult to price all the materials accurately. I timed myself as I made the first two of these guitars. I wanted to make $15 per hour, which was a good wage back then, and I probably made a little more after some practice. I sold them for $600 with no case. Everything was very business-like. Sometimes we forget that lutherie is a business and get lost in it without making enough money.

All photos by John Calkin
All photos by John Calkin
JC-little-dobro-direct-02
JC-little-dobro-direct-03
Posted on

Decades of Banjo

Decades of Banjo

from his 1984 GAL Convention lecture

by Tom Morgan

Originally published in Guild of American Luthiers Quarterly, Volume 12 ,#4, 1984



I would be a lot more comfortable today if I could have a gutiar and a five piece band, but I quickly discarded the idea of trying to set an hour’s lecture to music.

I learned to love the sound of a good banjo not too long after the vintage years, and have had the privilege of examining a lot of good instruments. RB was the designation the Gibson company used for their five string or regular banjo, and TB means tenor banjo. Small numbers such as 2,3,4, and 5 were used, and just before the war early numbers like 7, 12, 18 and 75 came into use. The new models after World War II started with 100, 150 and 250, which was also their list price, and an 800 was added later.

The Air Force sent me to Washington D.C. in 1955, where I met Callie Veach. Callie was originally from Arthur, West Virginia, and had several mountain traditions in his past such as hunting, making whiskey, riding horses, and making music. By the time we knew him, he worked at free lance carpentry, but kept a large number of musical instruments, which he modified, inlaid with Mother-of-Pearl and used to horse-trade with the local musicians.

Become A Member to Continue Reading This Article

This article is part of our premium web content offered to Guild members. To view this and other web articles, join the Guild of American Luthiers. Members also receive 4 annual issues of American Lutherie and get discounts on products. For details, visit the membership page.

If you are already a member, login for access or contact us to setup your account.
Posted on

Building the Prima Gusli

Building the Prima Gusli

by James H. Flynn

Originally published in American Lutherie #27, 1991 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Three, 2004



The Gusli is a very old Russian folk musical instrument. Most probably, it dates back to the 11th century. The gusli is a Russian version of the ancient dulcimer or psaltry. Also in the same family, although different, are the Finnish kantele and the Hungarian cymbalom. Over time, the gusli has changed to accommodate a wide range of musical situations. Today, with especial thanks to the great V.V. Andreev (American Lutherie #17, see Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Two, p. 180), one must be specific in describing the gusli because of the many styles.

The largest of the guslis, both in physical size and musical range is the piano gusli which is shown in Fig. 1. This instrument stands on four legs (which are detachable to facilitate moving) and has a musical range of five octaves. The keyboard, which is one octave wide, is manipulated with the fingers of the left hand while the right hand works over the exposed strings with a plectrum. Activating the keyboard lifts the dampers on certain strings in all octaves.

Become A Member to Continue Reading This Article

This article is part of our premium web content offered to Guild members. To view this and other web articles, join the Guild of American Luthiers. Members also receive 4 annual issues of American Lutherie and get discounts on products. For details, visit the membership page.

If you are already a member, login for access or contact us to setup your account.
Posted on

Attic Strads, and Why What’s Worth Something Is Worth What It’s Worth

Attic Strads, and Why What’s Worth Something Is Worth What It’s Worth

by Michael Darnton

Originally published in American Lutherie #25, 1991 and Big Red Book of American, Volume Three, 2004



One of the most common myths of violin fanciers is the existence of the attic Strad. The chances of finding a valuable violin at a garage sale are zip (or less). In recent years the number of Strads and Guarneris discovered in this world in this way can be counted on about three fingers, and they haven’t been found in attics in Kansas. Check out places like ancient European monasteries and the country homes of nobility if you want to increase your chances of finding something good. In spite of this, every large shop has several people a week coming in with a really bad violin they have been saving as a way to finance their retirement. In addition, hundreds of amateur collectors have instruments they believe are valuable Italians, which are “prevented from receiving their rightful recognition” by owners of the big shops who either “don’t want to admit that someone else has something good” or “don’t know what they’re talking about.” They are right; someone does not know what they are talking about. It isn’t the big shop owner.

In the early part of this century and the end of the last, thousands of cheap factory violins were imported into this country from Germany and Czechoslovakia. Although some of these look and sound quite nice and are made of beautiful wood, they are still just factory fiddles. Since much of a violin’s value derives from factors other than the quality of the wood and the quantity of sandpaper used in its construction, like it or not those factors don’t mean much in assessing the value of an instrument. Certainly no one would appraise a painting based on the cost of the paint and the quality of the canvas, yet many amateur violin collectors use that type of criterion for evaluating their finds.

Become A Member to Continue Reading This Article

This article is part of our premium web content offered to Guild members. To view this and other web articles, join the Guild of American Luthiers. Members also receive 4 annual issues of American Lutherie and get discounts on products. For details, visit the membership page.

If you are already a member, login for access or contact us to setup your account.