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Review: The Strad Facsimile — An Illustrated Guide to Violin Making

Review: The Strad Facsimile — An Illustrated Guide to Violin Making

Edwin John Ward

S.E. Ward, Kaneohe, Hawaii, 1984
Out of print (1999)

Originally published in American Lutherie #2, 1985 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume One, 2001



Reviewing any book can be a formidable task. Reviewing a book about violin construction can be downright hazardous! Consider for a moment the possible dangers: irreversible brain damage from attempting to understand the logic of the author; hearing loss from attempts by the reviewer at duplicating the electronic plate-tuning tricks so beloved of some contemporary makers; and last, but certainly not least, near blindness from trying to read the incredibly small type of some of these books. Fortunately, the work of a book reviewer isn’t always this bad. Every now and then, a book is written that appears to be a serious attempt at communicating basic knowledge about a subject to its reader. The Strad Facsimile — An Illustrated Guide To Violin Making by Edwin John Ward is just such a book.

The Strad Facsimile is a straightforward, but somewhat concise attempt at describing exactly how Edwin John Ward goes about constructing a Strad pattern violin. This book does have some limitations. It assumes the reader has a good grasp of basic hand-woodworking skills. It does not provide the reader with any information on comparative methods of violin making. The reader is left to do his/her own research into the alternative schools of violin-making technique.

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Out of the Basement

Out of the Basement

by Richard Bingham

Originally published in American Lutherie #7, 1986 and The Big Red Book of American Lutherie, Volume 1, 2000

See also,
“H.L. Wild” by Paul Wyszkowski
“A Scene from Dickens” by Steve Curtin



About five years ago, when I was in the middle of my second C.F. Martin guitar “kit,” (thanks to Dick Boak, who saw me through this madness and was very generous in fitting it out), a good friend of mine who moves houses and buildings for a living presented me with one of his “finds.” It was a cardboard carton with variously-sized pieces of wood; bookmatched slabs of spruce and maple, very rough and indifferent looking pieces of ebony, a few sticks of bass wood, and a rather gaudy rosette glued to a piece of tag-board. The materials were noted on a slip of yellow paper printed by a spirit-duplicator and checked off in pencil, and dated May 12, 1964. The label told that the contents were from “H.L. Wild, New York City.” Apparently the “kit” was too much for the party who requested it.

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Review: Stradivari

Review: Stradivari

by Stewart Pollens

ISBN: 978-0521873048

Cambridge University Press, 2010

Originally published in American Lutherie #103, 2010



For over 200 years, Antonio Stradivari has been universally regarded as the greatest violin maker who ever lived, yet it is not widely known that he made virtually every kind of bowed and plucked string instrument popular in the Baroque period, including lutes, guitars, mandolins, viols, harps, and bows. And what do we actually know about the man and about his life and times? For a start, Antonio Stradivari (the Latinized form of his name “Antonius Stradiuarius” can be seen on the labels he inserted in his instruments) lived and worked in Cremona, Italy. He was born sometime between 1644 and 1649 and died in 1737 and was the successor to three previous generations of Cremonese violin makers of the Amati family.

What do we know about Stradivari’s working methods, about how he designed and built his instruments? Certainly a lot can be learned from studying the more than 600 of his instruments that still exist, although many of us regrettably may never have the experience of studying firsthand his instruments inside and out. Furthermore, almost all of those surviving instruments have been altered in the process of repair and modernization.

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Review: Classic Guitar Making

Review: Classic Guitar Making

Arthur E. Overholtzer

Williams Tool Company, 1983 (revised edition)

Out of print (1999)

Originally published in American Lutherie #1, 1985 and The Big Red Book of American Lutherie, Volume 1, 2000



For readers who are familiar with the origi­nal edition of Classic Guitar Making, this edition is a new printing, using a full-page format instead of the two-column style used in the original, and has about two-thirds of the illustrations (180). As far as I can tell, the text is the same, with some general tightening up of Art’s rambling style. The printing and illus­trations are of a higher quality than the original version. The directory of sources for materials and supplies has been expanded and updated.

When I first got interested in building clas­sic guitars, I read several books and soon discovered that there were several ways of doing most of the construction operations. At that time, the first edition of this book was out of print. When I finally got a copy through inter­library loan, it struck me as being the most logical and complete source that I had read on classical guitar building, so I started using Overholtzer methods. His concepts have done well for me and have been a good platform from which to experiment, in building eleven classic guitars, a fingerpicking steel string, and a 34" scale acoustic bass guitar.

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A Scene from Dickens

A Scene from Dickens

by Steve Curtin

Originally published in American Lutherie #7, 1986 and The Big Red Book of American Lutherie, Volume 1, 2000

See also,
“H.L. Wild” by Paul Wyszkowski
“Out of the Basement” by Richard Bingham



I suppose the seeds of the notion to build an instrument were planted in many of us in The Last Whole Earth Catalog, from which I learned of this fabulous establishment on Manhattan's Lower East Side. I think I planned to build some dulcimers first, and embarked by train and subway for the place. This was 1974.

Great neighborhood! Inside, I was greeted by a scene out of Dickens. The light through the unwashed windows and dust was poetic in the best cinematic style. Unfamiliar woods were every­where, strewn in chaos. Light barely penetrated the rear of the shop.

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