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Heavens Open for Robbie

Heavens Open for Robbie

by R.L. Robinson

from his 1980 GAL Convention lecture

Originally published in Guild of American Luthiers Quarterly, Volume 8 #4, 1980



My wife says, “You really shouldn’t go up there to San Francisco, because you’re too darn old and your hair’s not long enough.” I did feel a little out of place until I met old Doc Lyle here. While you people were all down here learning the business of lutherie, he and I were finishing off a bottle and having a ball slapping our sides and cackling about all you young folks. We already know it all because we’ve been here about 20 years more than most of you, but that’s the only difference between us.

Twenty years ago the heavens opened up for me and changed my whole life. From that point on it’s been 24 hours a day every day thinking about nothing except the harp. I used to be in the State Department and worked all over the world, living in various countries. My whole world had caved in, my wife was on the verge of leaving me, and I lost everything I had. I was pondering that great question, you know the one that Hamlet asks, “To be or not to be” and whether life is worth all that stuff. Well, I heard something. In Rio de Janero the record stores have 568,000 watt amplifiers. They put the record on inside and the speaker outside. Well, I heard this record and, as I said, the heavens opened up; this sound really turned me on. As I remember that episode I get very emotional. It turns out that the record was by Luis Bordone, who was a Paraguayan with eighteen gold records living in Sao Paulo.

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Wonders of the Lutherie World: The Great Oregon Prairie Fiddle

Wonders of the Lutherie World

The Great Oregon Prairie Fiddle

by Peggy Stuart

Originally published in American Lutherie #15, 1988



Long ago, when European settlers first began to hew out a rough existence in the wild Pacific Northwest, they found some really big trees growing there. Their response, prompted by the insistent urgings of western culture, was to make really big fiddles!

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The Paul Schuback Story

The Paul Schuback Story

from his 1986 GAL Convention lecture

Originally published in American Lutherie #9, 1987 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume One, 2000



Paul Schuback was born in Barbados in the West Indies in 1946 and moved to the United States at the age of nine months. Through his experiences and training, he lived in thirty-three different homes before the age of twenty.

His interest in musical instruments began when he was quite young, when he took up the violin at the age of seven. At the age of nine he began playing the cello, joining a youth symphony orchestra in Utah at the age of fifteen. Then, before graduating high school, he began his career as a luthier with a three-year apprenticeship to master Rene Morizot, in Mirecourt, France. Following this, he specialized in violin making in Mittenwald, Germany. He then became a graduate in bow making at the Morizot Freres again in Mirecourt, France. He continued his studies by researching historical instruments in France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. From 1968 to 1971 he worked as journeyman in the Peter Paul Prier violin shop in Salt Lake City, Utah, before moving to Portland, Oregon, where he established his own workshop and where he resides today.

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Remembering Harry LeBovit

Remembering Harry LeBovit

by Fred Calland

Originally published in American Lutherie #10, 1987 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume One, 2000



Harry LeBovit’s company was always and unvaryingly a pleasure, and his companionship was never touched by shyness, aloofness, or anything boring like that.

I can’t remember the first time I met him, and I know why I can’t; the man put me at ease on the spot, probably saying something like, “You must be very happy doing something so interesting so well.” Now add to that a sort of uneven smile and a warm welcoming expression, and you have a master of diplomacy, a man capable of aggressive friendship, and an irresistible companion in spirit.

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A Case of Explosion Damage

A Case of Explosion Damage

by Keith Davis

Originally published in American Lutherie #15, 1988



In the course of operating a violin shop we have seen all sorts of typical and not-so-typical repair jobs come in, as every shop does. The average day brings a dropped soundpost, a broken bridge, some cracks and so forth. But we were recently called on to repair a series of problems in the instruments of the high school orchestra following a natural gas explosion .

On January 13, 1988 a leak in an underground line allowed gas to build up in the boys’ locker room and weight room of the West Iron County High School. When a coach flipped a light switch the resulting spark apparently set off the explosion, which injured approximately twenty students and staff. The orchestra had stored their instruments in a nearby room and the explosion and shock wave following it caused many of the instruments’ soundposts to either fall or shift position. It is our opinion that the position of the instrument at the time determined whether the post fell or was relocated. Several bridges broke, both violins and ‘celli being so affected. As a point of interest, no viola damage was reported.

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