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Review: More on Somogyi’s Responsive Guitar

Review: More on Somogyi’s Responsive Guitar

Reviewed by Michael Sandén

Originally published in American Lutherie #102, 2010



I first meet Ervin in 1984. I was in my second year as a wannabe guitar builder, and already I had read about him in Frets magazine. Over the years we have met a few times when I have passed through San Francisco and of course at Guild conventions. I have listened to his workshops and I have read his articles in American Lutherie magazine.

When I saw these two thick books of about 300 pages each, I got the feeling that Ervin had left nothing out. Finally someone has taken the time and effort to write all of this down. He goes through the many aspects of the guitar and just tells you his experience (which spans over four decades) of how everything works. Ervin makes a full chapter of some topics that are barely mentioned in many guitar building books. Take for instance the chapter, “The Functions of the Guitar Back.” I have been building guitars for almost thirty years. To now be able to read about these things that have been in my head for so long gives me great satisfaction.

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Review: Building the Selmer-Maccaferri Guitar by Michael Collins

Review: Building the Selmer-Maccaferri Guitar by Michael Collins

Reviewed by John Calkin

Originally published in American Lutherie #96, 2008



Building the Selmer-Maccaferri Guitar
Michael Collins
Acoustic Guitar Resources
DVD, 14 hours
Available from Stewart-MacDonald, $159.98

The Selmer-Maccaferri guitar, whether D-hole or oval hole, is unlike any other commonly encountered. As far as I know, this DVD set and the accompanying book (available separately) are the only thorough guides to the construction details and how to put one together, though the DVDs only cover the oval hole model. Although Michael Collins makes references to the book and plans to help clarify specific details, I haven’t seen them, so we’ll have to examine the DVDs on their own.

The most obvious and remarkable aspect of the DVDs is their ten volume, fourteen-hour run time. Editor Tim Olsen’s e-mail to his crew hoping to find a reviewer asked, “Is anyone not in prison going to have time to watch these?” Well, there I was with my cybernetic arm waving in the air. I guess I’m just a glutton for this stuff. I must confess, though, that while I try to watch video media at least twice before reviewing, once through had to suffice for this set.

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Review: The Responsive Guitar & Making the Responsive Guitar by Ervin Somogyi

Review: The Responsive Guitar & Making the Responsive Guitar by Ervin Somogyi

Reviewed by Roger Alan Skipper

Originally published in American Lutherie #102, 2010



The Responsive Guitar
ISBN 978-0-9823207-0-9

Making the Responsive Guitar
ISBN 978-0-9823207-1-6
Two-book hardback boxed set
Ervin Somogyi
Luthiers Press, 2009

To suggest that this two-book set is striking would be an understatement. Contained in this box is more than eight pounds of quality glossy paper, and a quick fanning reveals a large section of stunning color photographs, plus sharp black-and-white images and sharply detailed drawings throughout. Also of immediate note is the price: $140 per book, $280 for the set; that this is intended as a serious and significant work is clear. A bit of investigative work (this information is found in the introduction of one book, on the back cover of the other) reveals that The Responsive Guitar is the first of the set, with Making the Responsive Guitar an accompanying and subsequent tome.

The first book’s purpose and the author’s qualifications are clearly defined on the cover: “The Responsive Guitar is about the physics, dynamics, acoustics and construction of the guitar”; “Somogyi is arguably the premier maker, theoretician and expert of the modern acoustic guitar for his generation.” The last page of text is numbered 339, but the numbering doesn’t begin until approximately fifty pages in, after a logical and concise table of contents, a brief foreword by musician and recording artist Martin Simpson, and an introduction and acknowledgments page by the author. This is followed by thirty-two pages of professional color photographs of contemporary guitars of all descriptions — innovative, artful, minutely detailed, and divinely crafted — to quicken the pulse of any luthier. Only ten pages are of the author’s work, as he pays homage to other makers.

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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.

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