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A Contrabass for the Pugo Brothers

Cuenca. They Became Self-Made Luthiers in their El Cebollar Neighborhood. They Make String Instruments.

A Contrabass for the Pugo Brothers

These Artisans had to Desecrate Several Secrets Before Making Violincellos, Contrabasses, Violins, and Guitars.

But they did it.

by Juan Carlos translated by John L. Walker

Originally published in American Lutherie #73, 2003



When Angel Pugo was a young boy he developed a phobia that never went away: fear of school. His teachers’ intolerance, according to him, was the reason that caused him to not sit near the blackboard anymore. “Those that went around barefooted were never well considered,” says Angel, now a violin maker.

His father, Miguel, had heaped rondadores, flautas de pan, pingullos, and ocarinas¹ upon his sons while he watched the corn grow on the hillside. After one of his first “traumas,” as Angel calls them, he also hung up his pingullo and headed towards the Conservatory of Cuenca. “They told me that all they did in the conservatory was repeat do, re, and mi, and that it was very boring. But solfège delighted me.”

The musical center’s director looked at him carefully and said, “You are worth it.” This same director, after sitting him in front of a piano, would choose Angel Pugo as a beneficiary of one of the thirty pianos provided by the government of Jaime Roldós Aguilera.²

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Trends: 1985 Lute Society Seminar

Trends: 1985 Lute Society Seminar

by Lawrence D. Brown

Originally published in American Lutherie #3, 1985



The 1985 Lute Society Seminar in Oakland, Michigan, June 16-22, was attended by 50 students, 5 professional luthiers, 7 faculty, and 3 guest speakers. The students included serious amateurs, professional and semi-professional players, and rank beginners. They came from as far away as Japan, Europe, Canada, and England, providing a fascinating cross-section of players and instruments from around the world. Since many of those attending brought two or sometimes three instruments, a great many instrument makers were also represented.

For me, as a full-time builder of lutes and other early instruments, it represented an unparalleled opportunity to examine the quality of instruments currently being made by a great variety of makers, and to identify any trends in playing techniques (which can greatly effect the mechanics of a musical instrument).

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Big Blue Ladder

Big Blue Ladder

by Harold Turner

Originally published in American Lutherie #33, 1993



Now I wouldn’t know a Pinusconeus abundus from an Avocado delectable, but I do know eastern white pine. I’ve rolled down mountains of sawdust, sawn down a few Christmas trees, and lit camp fires with the cones. I’ve even made a few instruments from the stuff.

Eastern white pine has one rare gift I’m glad to be associated with: the climb! A mass of limbs from the earth to the moon and back. A boyhood dream come true. A place to get away from it all. In the bowing branches of a pine you can be an astronaut, a cowboy ready to jump on his trusty steed, or Tarzan of the Apes swinging from limb to limb.

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Accident Prevention: A Case History

Accident Prevention: A Case History

by Jeffrey R. Elliott

Originally published in American Lutherie #14, 1988



Aa a luthier who has repaired several thousand guitars over the past 20 years, I have developed a growing obsession over guitar care and safety. Much of this is due to my realization that nearly half those repairs may not have been necessary had they been properly handled. Significantly, they were often not in their owner’s possession at the time of “the accident”.

In such a case a few years ago, the culprits appeared to have been the baggage handlers of several airlines during a rigorous two month international tour. The owner took all the proper precautions before and after each flight, and the guitar was in an expensive custom case made especially to accommodate its shape and dimensions. So I was upset, but not surprised, when I learned of the first incident, as airline handling of instruments remains notoriously poor. However, upon learning of three more identical mishaps, I became increasingly concerned for the instrument.

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Lutherie: Art or Science?

Lutherie: Art or Science?

by R.E. Bruné

Originally published in American Lutherie #1, 1985



Aside from the eternal “How do you bent the sides” question asked by non-makers, the most frequent point of curiosity seems to be that of other makers: “What do you think of the Kasha guitar?” I am somewhat surprised at this.

Firstly, it doesn’t really matter what I think of the Kasha model. I don’t build it, and I would think this fact says enough. The second point is that the Kasha model and theories have been around for enough years (nearly twenty if I’m correct) that, were there merit in the model, it would have been almost universally adopted by makers and players by now. It took less than twenty years for the conservative makers of Spain to adopt the design ideas of Torres, for by the time of his death just before the turn of this century, nearly every Spanish maker with the exception of José Ramírez I was using his model. The reason for this nearly overnight conversion is obvious; the models of Torres were clearly superior to anything else available, and the musicians quickly accepted them. In fact, the makers who didn’t adopt his patterns went out of business.

In contrast, one does not see musicians today playing the Kasha model. I know of no professional classical guitarists playing them, and in the nearly twenty years I have been involved in the guitar world, I have never been to a concert where a Kasha model guitar was played. Yet it seems there has hardly been an issue of the G.A.L. Quarterly without some article or reference to the Kasha model as if it were definitive, and desirable.

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