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Questions: Nylon String Baritone Guitar

Questions: Nylon String Baritone Guitar

by Graham Caldersmith

Originally published in American Lutherie #102, 2010



Len Laviolette from San Diego, California asks:

I have been asked by a prominent local guitarist to build a nylon-string baritone guitar. I am intrigued, but I don’t know anything about baritone guitars. I have seen some steel strings, but never a nylon string. My questions are about scale length, top thickness (for cedar), and body size; also the availability of nylon strings in heavier gauges. Should it have a 12-fret neck?


Graham Caldersmith from Comboye, Australia responds:

I have made fifteen classical baritones since 1980 and have found that the carbon fiber/balsa lattice suits the needs of the baritone range better than traditional bracing designs. The baritone is particularly effective as an ensemble instrument where it plays the cello part of string quartets, a standard guitar plays the viola part, and treble guitars play the violin parts. Some musicians, including Slava Grigoryan and Ralph Towner, use their baritones as solo instruments, particularly for the Bach cello suites.

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Letter: Gittler Guitar

Letter: Gittler Guitar

by Anthony D. Blokzyl

Originally published in American Lutherie #19, 1989



I read your request for information on the Gittler guitar with great relief! I have yet to see one of these unique instruments, and hope that they are still being manufactured somewhere.

They were first mentioned, that I know of, in the August 1978 issue of Guitar Player. The Gittler is almost entirely of brushed stainless steel. There is a central “spine” through which are milled, at decreasing intervals, a series of holes that erupt fractionally. Through the holes are friction fitted short rods acting as frets. The inventor remarked in the article that the dowels could be turned to compensate quickly for wear, if such was feared.

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Monochord Enthusiasts “Dig” Colo.

Monochord Enthusiasts “Dig” Colo.

“14,000 Feet and Beyond” Proclaims Participant

by Bonnie Carol

Originally published in Guild of American Luthiers Newsletter Vol. 4, #4, 1976

 

Note: The following is a report on the “In Search of the Wild Dulcimer, Kindred Gathering II”, held August 13, 14, 15, 1976.

We dulcimer players got together at a 130 acre homestead in the Colorado Rockies near Fort Collins. It all began with the arrival of Janette Gould, Robert Force, Albert d’Ossche, Ian, Neal, Sally and Shilo Hellman, a week or so in advance. We all fixed trucks, dug outhouses, hiked into snowstorms at 14,000 feet and beyond, ate meals prepared by professional cooks, Neal and Sally, and even played dulcimer on occasion.

The festival included workshops of “Rhythm” (Albert d’Ossche), “Fingerpicking” (Bonnie Carol and Roger Harris), “Mode within Modes” (Neal Hellman), “Moving with Voice” (opera as learned in Southwestern New Mexico from an Italian opera singer by Robert and Janette), “Blues Dulcimer” (by some California folks with chromatic dulcimers with guitar-like necks, Robert and Susan Cole and Mark and Julie Warner), “Building” (Roger Harris and Bonnie Carol), and probably others that I didn’t hear about. Many impromptu jams and occurrences — including a banjo (played by Blind Boy d’Ossche), fiddle, kazzo, and even dulcimer reveille on Sunday; square dancing with a live Colorado caller, Connie Baker; and a Saturday night fireside song swap. What more could we want? ◆

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Two Tuvan Instruments

Two Tuvan Instruments

by Thomas Johnson

Originally published in American Lutherie #98, 2009



Originally, the igil and morin khuur (also spelled morin huur) were made by nomadic people with rudimentary tools. Instrument making in Tuva remains a cottage industry, and the master makers have mostly died off without leaving a trained younger generation.

It can be difficult to find wood big enough for Tuvan instruments, and it is becoming common practice to build up the piece by gluing extra bits on. For example, the height of the horse’s head above the fingerboard of an igil is enough to significantly increase the block of wood required. A maker can easily use a smaller block and, using a piece cut from it, add to the height by gluing it to the top. As the wood is from the same block, it can be fairly invisible. This is also possible for the soundbox and the fingerboard; two equal-sized cheeks can be added to either side to enable the correct dimension to be achieved.

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Questions: Instrument Plan #36

Questions: Instrument Plan #36

by Scot Tremblay

Originally published in American Lutherie #101, 2010

 

Bob Barnard from Olympia, Washington asks:

I just finished making a copy of the 1816 Martínez Salon Guitar from GAL Instrument Plan #36. I strung it up with Aquila Alabastro classical guitar strings (normal tension) to pitch (A440). It was overpowered and did not have the right tone or response. I lowered the pitch a whole step and it improved substantially, leading me to think the string tension is too high. Any suggestions on appropriate string tension for this wonderful little guitar?


Plan author Scot Tremblay from Victoria BC
responds:

My preference in strings for most smaller Early Romantic guitars, including the Martínez, is the La Bella ERG #1 or the La Bella 2001L Light Tension strings. I think it’s best to keep the tension to 5.5–6.5KG/string. Because of the 614MM string length of the Martínez you are going to get closer to 5KG/string which should be fine.