American Lutherie

Sharing lutherie information is what the Guild is all about, and American Lutherie is our primary vehicle for accomplishing that goal. Articles come from two sources: those produced by the GAL staff in collaboration with our members (such as presentations from our conventions, and interviews with instrument makers), and voluntary submissions by Guild members themselves. Our volunteer authors are motivated by a desire to benefit others with what they have learned, and to support the give-and-take system employed by the Guild.

Our respected quarterly journal American Lutherie focuses on all aspects of the art, craft, and science of stringed instrument making and repair, and it reflects the varied interests of our diverse membership.

Rich in quality content, friendly in tone, and abundantly illustrated with full-color photos, each 76-page issue contains interviews, adventures, research, opinion, reviews, and how-to information, all of specific interest to the maker and repairer of stringed musical instruments.

In American Lutherie, we strive to publish methods, opinions, and explanations that are backed by experience. GAL members find the techniques, practices, and materials of other builders to be of value in their own workshops, whether in their own specific fields or not. This wide outlook and open attitude is basic to the success of the Guild. It seems to be working. Never has the worldwide lutherie scene been stronger, deeper, more productive, or more highly regarded. The Guild and its members are proud to continue to be a part of the ongoing advancement of the luthier’s craft.

What started as a small newsletter in 1972, grew and developed into our full-sized journal American Lutherie in 1985, and went to full-color printing in 2011. Beginning in 2000, we collected three years of American Lutherie at a time into large hardcover volumes called the Big Red Books of American Lutherie, as the back issues went out of print. We published seven Big Red Books, covering eighty-four issues of American Lutherie magazine.

Four issues of American Lutherie are the main benefit of annual GAL membership. Want to get the current issues of American Lutherie? Become a GAL member today! Members receive three regular issues (spring, summer, and winter) and a double American Lutherie anthology issue in the fall.

American Lutherie Current Issues

American Lutherie #141 – Winter 2020

Leonardo Michelin-Salomon builds Romantic-era guitars at a craft school in Norway, using locally-harvested spruce; he explains his techniques and discoveries. In Part Three of our series on building a guitar with Charles Fox, we brace the top and back, close the body, and bind it. Evan Gluck tells us what to do when your lutherie business hits an unexpected bump. Peter Hurney shows us his direct and accurate method for calculating the exact position of a uke bridge. Steve Kennel presents a detailed drawing a 1964 Harmony/Regal Guitar, a straightforward and inexpensive instrument. Stray cedar logs wash up on the beaches of British Columbia, and Gerry Chicalo harvests them. Erik Wolters built a challenging and unusual first guitar, which resembles a New York taxi. Mark French selects and installs an inexpensive CNC router in his home shop. John Calkin shows us the advantages of quick-and-dirty auxilliary workbenches and tables. RM Mottola gives step-by-step instructions for drafting the outline of a traditional flattop pickguard. Our reviewer likes The Spanish Guitar by Françoise and Daniel Sinier de Ridder. And more.

See Preview

Scheduled to mail to members mid-January

Classical Guitars: An American Lutherie Anthology

Members will receive Classical Guitars, the third book in our American Lutherie Anthology series, as their fall issue for 2020. It’s a full-color, soft cover, 100-page book with articles selected from the 1986-2010 issues of American Lutherie on the topic of classical guitars. Unlike the original issues of AL, this book is printed in full color.

See Preview

American Lutherie #140 – Summer 2020

Stephen Marchione shows us how to fit the braces in an archtop guitar using traditional techniques that are used to fit bars in fiddle tops. We meet John Jordan, a guitar maker and repairer who is best known for his solidbody electric violins. In Part Two of our series on building a guitar with Charles Fox, we rough out the neck, work with the neck block and lining, and then brace the top and back plates. Kerry Char performs a restoration of a century-old Larson Bros. harp guitar. Javier Campos Tijeras does the French polish work for many of Granada's best guitar makers, and he tells us all about it. In a high school in the Canadian prairie, students have been making guitars in the Industrial Arts class for twenty years. Laminated bamboo panels seem to work just fine for making nice classical guitars. Make your own notched straightedges. We remember Graham Caldersmith, pioneering guitar maker, acoustics researcher, and author. C.F. Casey builds a replica of a 7-string Russian guitar, but takes some liberties. How big should a flamenco tap plate be? Our reviewers like Cyclopedic Dictionary of Lutherie Terms and 34 Iconic Guitars in Life Size.

See Preview

American Lutherie #139 – Spring 2020

Federico Sheppard tells of his astonishing international travels and lutherie adventures. We begin a four-part series providing a detailed look at the guitar-building process of Charles Fox, granddaddy of lutherie teachers. Kerry Char briefly reviews the evolution of Gibson's perennial favorite flattop, the J-45 guitar, and presents a full plan drawing. Meet Arie van Spronssen, part of the 1970s lutherie boom in the Netherlands. The entertaining team of Erick Coleman and Evan Gluck are back with more helpful hints for the guitar repair shop. Lee Herron builds a lap steel guitar made of kitchen gadgets and furniture. Harry Flieshman challenges us not to let our small messy shops stand in the way of our lutherie endeavors. Roger Bucknall conducts a guitar wood experiment to see if players hear what they think they hear. Ron Fernandez offers a fond remembrance of his friend Felix Manzenaro. Pat Megowan reviews two uke-making books. And more.

See Preview


American Lutherie 2019 Issues

American Lutherie #138 – Winter 2019

Guitar maker Michael Bashkin previously had a career in forestry; from this perspective he talks about the dilemma of luthiers using the earth’s dwindling supplies of fine traditional woods. Mark French attends an eight-day course at Robbie O’Brien’s shop in Colorado to make a flamenco guitar with Spanish luthier Paco Chorobo. John Calkin makes a lap steel guitar from a used humbucker, a wall stud, some extruded aluminum, and a couple other odds and ends. Tom Blackshear presents a plan drawing of a 1982 Arcángel Fernández Flamenco Guitar. Meet Jay Lichty and Corrie Woods, a married couple who, between the two of them, make and market ukuleles and guitars. R.M. Mottola restores a century-old beater guitar into a sweet-playing instrument that keeps all the dinged-up funk appeal. Harry Fleishman makes a series of changes to the bridge of one of his flattop guitars and evaluates the results. Graham McDonald takes us through the process of slicing and dicing contrasting woods to produce the style of rope binding that was popular in the early 20th century. Terence Warbey presents a simple jig to facilitate the fitting of a bolt-on flattop guitar neck to its body through a process that is sometimes called flossing. Bryan Johanson reviews Orfeo Magazine. And more.

See Preview

Tools and Jigs: An American Lutherie Anthology

Tools and Jigs is the newest title in our series of American Lutherie Anthology books. It’s a soft cover, 100-page book with articles selected from the 2006-2011 issues of American Lutherie. Unlike the original issues of AL, this book is printed in full color.

See Preview

American Lutherie #137 – Summer 2019

Federico Sheppard visits Todd Cambio, a guitar maker who revives the early-twentieth-century work of American guitar factories, Italian-American luthiers of New York, and Mexican-American makers. Mark French documents the ongoing adoption of CNC technology by individual luthiers. Cyndy Burton catches up with Canadian luthier Joshia de Jonge, who shows us how she builds an elevated and “twisted” neck for a classical guitar. Harp-guitar pope Gregg Miner looks into the early development of Gibson guitar strings. Todd Mylet gives a detailed explanation of resetting a dovetailed guitar neck. A 12-week course at The Totnes School of Guitar Making on the English seaside is described by former student J.A.T. Stanfield. R.M. Mottola gives short summaries of two articles recently published on-line by Savart Journal. Tom Ribbecke remembers lacquer expert Fred Campbell. Tim Olsen remembers early GAL staffer Leo Bidne. Greg Maxwell describes a seminar on modal tuning given by author Trevor Gore. A new Spanish-language step-by-step guitar making book by Luis Alberto Paredes Rodríguez is reviewed by Juan Oscar Azaret. And more.

See Preview

American Lutherie #136 – Spring 2019

Federico Sheppard presents a photo tour of the late Bob Ruck’s shop in Eugene Oregon. In a slide show from the 2017 GAL Convention, Kerry Char disassembles and restores a smashed flattop guitar. Mark French explains mechanical impedance. The large and prolific Tatay family of guitar makers is documented and explained by January Williams. Meet the versatile instrument maker Shaun Newman from Devon, England. Investigation of an unusual 1935 guitar made by Cremonese Luthier Luigi Digiuni. R.M.Mottola shows us the finer points of determining the scale length of an existing instrument. Harry Fleishman installs frets made of delrin rod on a multiscale electric bass. Mark French gives us an overview of Charles Fox’s “Hands-On Guitar Making” course. Peter Tsiorba reviews the opulent boxed set “34 Classical Guitars in Life Size.” And more.

See Preview

American Lutherie Back Issues

Back issues of American Lutherie from previous years are available to purchase individually. We currently have over 45 back issues available. See our Big Red Book of American Lutherie Series for even more American Lutherie content.

To get this year’s current issues of American Lutherie, become a member! In addition to getting the current issues of American Lutherie, you’ll get the member discount price on back issues as well as on our books and plans.