Posted on

Review: The Century That Shaped the Guitar

Review: The Century That Shaped the Guitar (From the Birth of the Six-String Guitar to the Death of Tárrega)

James Westbrook

2005. 180 pp., Available from theguitarmuseum.com.

Previously published in American Lutherie #88, 2006



In 1813 the soon-to-be-renowned composer and guitarist Fernando Sor left Spain, never to return. His destination was Paris, in the only country that would have him. After two years of frustration and disappointment he moved to London where he was to finally achieve the success that had eluded him. The large forces that brought Sor to London include his education, his professional training, the many wars in Europe, and taste.

Sor was given a liberal education in his native Barcelona. He studied composition, singing, and the newly invented 6-string guitar. With the premiere in 1797 of his opera Telemachus on Calypso’s Isle, Sor became the celebrated wunderkind. But a career in music was not in his immediate future. He had received a military training that seemed unlikely to cause his musical career much trouble. But, Napoleon’s invasion of Spain changed all that. Sor was thrown into active duty. When the French finally conquered Spain, Sor was given the choice of continuing his military career as part of the occupying French army, or joining the Spanish resistance. (The resistance was not doing so well, as documented by the many gruesome paintings by Goya.) Sor chose to continue his military career with the French (bad move). When Napoleon was finally defeated, these Spanish afrancesados were being murdered by the now victorious resistance at an alarming rate. Like many Spaniards in his position, Sor joined the exodus of 1813 and moved to Paris.

Become A Member to Continue Reading This Article

This article is part of our premium web content offered to Guild members. To view this and other web articles, join the Guild of American Luthiers. Members also receive 4 annual issues of American Lutherie and get discounts on products. For details, visit the membership page.

If you are already a member, login for access or contact us to setup your account.
Posted on

Nine Electric Guitar Construction References Reviewed

Nine Electric Guitar Construction References Reviewed

by John Calkin

previously published in American Lutherie #63, 2000



Electric guitars are interesting creatures. The noises they are capable of producing are so far removed from an acoustic guitar that a listener could convince him/herself that either something magical has happened to the instrument or something has gone dreadfully wrong in the world.

Creating electric guitars often conjures up a frustrating paradox. The guitar body begins life as nothing more than a chunk of wood and ends up as little more than a chunk of wood, but assembling and shaping that chunk can present a challenge out of all proportion to what you end up with. Power planers and jointers are expensive. On the other hand, accomplishing the job with hand tools requires a serious investment in time needed to learn to sharpen, set up, and master the tools. Farming out the heavy work is possible, but often seems to dilute the lutherie experience (a belief, strangely enough, found most often in rank beginners who have neither money nor talent, and are often cursed with a stunted sense of the practical). To me the obvious answer was plywood, which makes a much better guitar than anyone would have you believe. The shape, cavities, and channels can all be established with routers and such before the body is glued up to thickness. It’s chief drawback is that it’s hard to finish nicely, but it will get you into guitar making with the least amount of outside help and expense.

Become A Member to Continue Reading This Article

This article is part of our premium web content offered to Guild members. To view this and other web articles, join the Guild of American Luthiers. Members also receive 4 annual issues of American Lutherie and get discounts on products. For details, visit the membership page.

If you are already a member, login for access or contact us to setup your account.
Posted on

Review: Classic Guitar Making

Review: Classic Gutiar Making

Arthur E. Overholtzer

$13.00

Published by: Lawrence A Brock

1929 Mangrove Ave.

Chico, California 95926

Originally published in Guild of American Luthiers Newsletter, Volume 2 #3, 1974



This book is a comprehensive work of the classic guitar. It is a large book, 8 1/2" × 11" with over 300 pages, well illustrated, with more than 300 drawings and pictures. Beginning with the selection of the proper wood, to the application of a mirror-like finish, it is quite complete. It also tells how to do many things with different methods; by hand, with a router and jig, etc.

Become A Member to Continue Reading This Article

This article is part of our premium web content offered to Guild members. To view this and other web articles, join the Guild of American Luthiers. Members also receive 4 annual issues of American Lutherie and get discounts on products. For details, visit the membership page.

If you are already a member, login for access or contact us to setup your account.
Posted on

Review: Guitar Repair

Review: Guitar Repair

“A manual of repair for guitars and fretted instruments”

Irving Sloane

1973; 95pp.

$8.95 postpaid from; E.P. Dutton

201 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10003

Originally published in Guild of American Luthiers Newsletter Volume 2 #2, 1974



This book should have been written years ago. It would have saved us all the trouble of figuring out these techniques ourselves, and given us more time to develop our Art.

Compiled with the C.F. Martin Organization, Mr. Sloane’s book deals in all facets of repairing acoustic guitars, including what to do with:

Become A Member to Continue Reading This Article

This article is part of our premium web content offered to Guild members. To view this and other web articles, join the Guild of American Luthiers. Members also receive 4 annual issues of American Lutherie and get discounts on products. For details, visit the membership page.

If you are already a member, login for access or contact us to setup your account.
Posted on

Review: The Modern Harpsichord

Review: The Modern Harpsichord

Wolfgang Joachim Zuckermann

Octoberhouse Inc. $15.00

Originally published in Guild of American Luthiers Newsletter Volume 1, #1, 1973

 

This recent book by Mr. Zuckermann is a large, well-illustrated, intelligently written and edited volume that lists and comments on most of the known makers of today. It contains, also, an historical preface and a practical guide to the care and feeding of all kinds of harpsichords, ancient and modern. This book is interesting, readable, sometimes humorous, often bitingly critical. Zuckermann’s liberal use of his own rather strong opinion seems not to detract from the authority of this well-researched work. Anyone interested in buying or building a harpsichord will find this book immensely valuable and well worth its $15.00 price. Having just finished my first scratch-built harpsichord, I speak from personal experience.

—  J.R. Beall (1973)