Classical Guitars

Classical Guitars: An American Lutherie Anthology


Classical Guitars, the third book in our American Lutherie Anthology series. It’s a full-color, soft cover, 100-page book with articles selected from the 1986-2010 issues of American Lutherie on the topic of classical guitars. Unlike the original issues of AL, this book is printed in full color.

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The Spanish Guitar at the Metropolitan Museum

by R.E. Bruné

The first major exhibition of Spanish guitars ever mounted in the USA opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City almost thirty years ago. Our man Bruné was there to cover the event and assess the historic significance. The GAL, now close to fifty years old, has some perspective on these things.

An Interview with Jeffrey Elliott

by Joseph Bacon

There’s young Jeff Elliott catching one of his fine boomerangs after a successful flight. As we learn in this interview, Jeff also makes fine classical guitars. He was already over twenty years into a distinguished lutherie career at that time in the mid-1980s, and he is now well past the half-century mark.

An Overview of the Hauser Tradition

from his 1986 GAL Convention lecture by Jeffrey R. Elliott

An American luthier takes a look at the influential dynasty of German builders.

1943 Hermann Hauser Sr. Classic Guitar

by Jeffrey R. Elliiott

On a two-page spread, we present a reduced image of GAL Instrument Plan #12. This detailed drawing of a 1943 classical guitar by Hermann Hauser Sr. was an immediate hit when we first offered it in 1986 and has continued to be one of our best sellers.

Meet James Buckland

by John Calkin

You might not think that a college professor who teaches 19th-century guitar performance would also have a collection of Marshall amps and a background in hard rock. But he does, and he also makes the slender and light-weight Romantic-era guitars that he plays.

John Calkin Asks James Buckland about the 19th-Century Guitar

Buckland explains the development of the Romantic guitar and introduces the major makers that shaped it.

Blind Listening Evaluation of Classical Guitar Soundports

by R.M. Mottola

Science itself is a way of making sure we don’t fool ourselves. And when we do go to the trouble of making sure we are doing it right, we may be surprised at what we learn. About guitars, about our ears, and about our minds.

19th-Century Guitar-Making Techniques

by James Buckland

There are significant construction differences between the Romantic guitar and the Classical guitar; bar frets, flush fingerboards, friction pegs, and small bridges. Buckland has developed a number of low-tech hand-tool methods for building these features, which he shares with us. The “old boys” didn’t need noisy power tools, and neither do we.

1825 Pons Aine Guitar, Paris

by James Buckland

Buckland presents a detailed drawing of a Romantic guitar (GAL Instrument Plan #63) made by the elder of the Pons brothers almost a century ago. It features an unusual design of adjustable friction pegs, a flush fingerboard, ladder bracing, and a pin bridge.

Meet Gregory Byers

by Woodley White

Greg Byers was in Puerto Rico researching hummingbird flower ecology on a National Science Foundation fellowship when he first fell in love with the classical guitar and decided that he would make one. One thing led to another, and he became a full-time luthier. Today he is a respected builder doing cutting-edge work investigating the vibrational patterns of guitars.

Segovia’s 1937 Hauser Revisited

by R.E. Bruné

The great guitarist Andrés Segovia left his famous Hauser guitar to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Richard Bruné, from whom Segovia had also commissioned an instrument, was allowed to examine and measure the Hauser. So how does it sound? We don’t know; the terms of the will stipulate that it must never again be tuned up.

1937 Herman Hauser Sr. Classic Guitar

by R.E. Bruné

On a two-page spread, we present a reduced image of Sheet 1 of GAL Instrument Plan #33. This is a detailed drawing of the 1937 guitar by Hermann Hauser Sr. which was extensively played by Segovia and called by him “the greatest guitar of our epoch.” The Guild sold this plan for years in the form of Bruné’s original pencil drawing, and then converted it to a fully redrawn two-sheet format. It’s one of our most popular plans.

Meet Paul Fischer

by Woodley White

In high school, British luthier Paul Fischer took an unusual opportunity to become a trained harpsichord maker. Later he met David Rubio and learned guitar making from him. He has since made over a thousand fine guitars and done extensive research in Brasil on tropical hardwoods. This interview was recorded in 2008, when Paul was celebrating his fiftieth year in lutherie.

Meet Cyndy Burton

by Tim Olsen

Attending a GAL Convention can change your life. Just ask Cyndy Burton. She was a school teacher from upstate New York who had taken a guitar-making class from Bill Cumpiano when she attended our 1979 national meeting in Boston. There she met a handsome guitar maker named Jeff Elliott, and the rest is history. She’s a guitar maker, writer, exhibition coordinator, and French polish expert and teacher in her own right.

A Life in Lutherie: A Discussion with Manuel Velázquez and his son Alfredo

from their 2006 GAL Convention presentation with Jeffrey Elliott and Robert Ruck

Manuel Velázquez was one of the very few active guitar makers in this country before the American Lutherie Boom hit in the late 1960s. He was born during World War I, and he had already been making guitars for a dozen years by the time he moved from Puerto Rico to New York city during World War II. He was just shy of ninety when he was honored at our 2006 GAL Convention.

Meet John Gilbert

by John Mello

The late John Gilbert was a highly successful machinist who became a self-taught luthier back in the early days of the American Lutherie Boom. He brought his precision measurement skills and the thought process of a trained engineer into his new craft, and became one of the most influential makers of classical guitars in the 1970s and ’80s. Unlike some builders, he always loved repair work and felt that he learned something from every instrument he ever fixed.

Double-Top Guitars

by Randy Reynolds

Here’s a well-illustrated step-by-step explanation of building a classical guitar soundboard with an inner layer of Nomex honeycomb material. A thin film of epoxy is applied to a plexiglas sheet with a rubber roller, and then accurately transferred to the tiny edges of the honeycomb. See? It’s easy when you know how.

Preliminary Conclusions about Double-Top Guitars

by Brian Burns

OK, you went to all the trouble to build a double-top guitar. Was it worth it? That is, does it sound great? Burns shows us his test rig and explains his analysis procedure.