American Lutherie


American Lutherie is the main benefit of annual GAL membership. We currently publish three full-color print issues of each year: Spring, Summer and Fall/Winter. Want to receive this year’s issues of American Lutherie? Become a GAL member today!

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, with a full-color version starting in 2011. Beginning in 2000, we began collecting three years of American Lutherie 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. Several Big Red Books are still available. In 2018 we began our American Lutherie Anthology book series, taking articles from more recent issues of American Lutherie. The AL Anthology book series are softcover books, organized by topic and printed in color. All six titles are currently available.

American Lutherie Current Issues

American Lutherie #151 – Spring 2024

Todd Cambio finds inspiration in those inexpensive "catalog" guitars, made in their millions before WWII in American factories using American woods. How do you explain that the glue squeeze-out in some fine old guitars by Spanish masters drips the wrong way? Tobias Braun built a solera like a mysterious century-old example in the shop of Santos Hernández to show how it might have been done. Imagine attending an intensive seminar to build a fine classical guitar from scratch with an instructor who is carrying on the teaching work of José Romanillos; and it's in an authentic castle in Austria, with a gourmet restaurant. Jay Anderson innocently attended a James Taylor concert, and received an epiphany that changed his life; that is to say, he became a luthier. Fourteen-year-old Harry Fleishman found a kindly and perceptive mentor in Seymour Drugan, an older legit jazz player who was running a guitar store. It's never too late to say thank you. StewMac has bought a European wood supply house; meet the new VP of Global Sales. Want to know the breaking point of a particular steel guitar string? Here's the neat and tidy way, using a cell phone. Lee Herron tinkered together a cool bandsaw jig to cut the kerfs in lining strips. Make an action gauge from cheap mail-order stuff. Dan Erlewine and William Eaton remember their friend and guitar repair guru Frank Ford. Plus: a double-sided steel jig to join the halves of a guitar top or back. Mark on dark wood with soapstone, not pencils. Nut-filing guides made on a laser cutter. Fleishman-style swing-arm binding router.

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Scheduled to be mailed to 2024 members in late April.

American Lutherie 2023 Issues

American Lutherie #150 – Winter 2023

A Dutch luthier makes a recreation of a quintessentially American Instrument, based on a model that is a century out of date: the Gibson L-1 round-hole archtop. Does string tension make the action of an archtop guitar get higher or lower? Kinda both, and here's the math of it. Richard “R.E.” Bruné is a founder of the GAL as well as of the American Lutherie Boom. He and his son Marshall run an important shop collecting, selling, restoring, and building fine classical guitars. Image a Dobro mashed up with a Hawaiian lap-steel into a double-neck WeissenBro. January Williams is back with more fine jigs from the estate of the late Denny Stevens, explaining them to us as he figures out their function. Professor Mark French a couple of his post-grads show us the physics behind the latest developments in electric guitar intonation improvements. A group of older luthiers hijack the shop of their woodworkers’ club to present a two-day class for kids and families to build a uke kit. Here’s a neck carving jig to make it repeatable and accurate. It’s possible to locate a buzzing fret on a guitar with a VOM, but this little gizmo project does it better. Jeffrey Elliott shows us his self-centering jig for cutting a side sound port in a classical guitar. Mike Doolin makes nice solid wood linings starting with veneer from the hardware store. The late Robert Lundberg is legendary as a lute maker and educator, but Birck Cox knew him before all that, back when Lundberg was working on fiberglass race cars. George Smith was a self-starter guitar maker in the 1950s. We offer three remembrances by people who knew him well. Harry Fleishman is back with another look at simple, small, perhaps overlooked things that help our lutherie efforts. The Hammond Glider saw is a rare and wonderful thing. Apply superglue with a quill pen that you made from a Q-tip. Make try squares and bevel squares with clear-plastic blades.

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Harp Guitars: An American Lutherie Anthology – Fall 2023

You might think you know something about harp guitars, but you’ll know a lot more after reading the newest 100-page book in our American Lutherie Anthology series: Harp Guitars! Sure they’re the giant, archaic monsters we’ve seen with mandolin orchestras, but they’re also modern instruments fulfilling the musical dreams of current musicians. And someone might want you to fix or build one someday! Our new book includes a bunch of the major articles we’ve done on harp guitars, including an historic overview of European and American versions, as well as the design process behind new models of steel string, classical, and electric versions that are taking the instrument into the future. Also included are reduced versions of three of our popular harp guitar plans, drawings of a wide variety of new designs, a panel discussion from our 2006 Convention, meet-the-maker interviews with three builders of harp guitars and other instruments as well as collector/harp-guitar enthusiast (aka Pope) Gregg Miner.

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American Lutherie #149 – Summer 2023

We interview Ken Parker, a giant of the American Lutherie Boom. The world knows him as the maker of the Fly solidbody guitar, but now he has returned to his first love: the archtop guitar. Ever see a nice hunk of firewood and think, "I could make a guitar out of that"? So did Lee Herron. Guitar intonation; math, music, and mojo. How good is good enough? Charlie Price brings us one step closer. Or is it one step beyond? Imagine two interviews happening at the same time. That’s what happens as we meet Rebecca Urlacher and Paul Woolson and learn about their lutherie lives. John Calkin is shows us how to get the back of a ukulele glued onto the ribs quickly and accurately, with no cleanup needed. Make a flattop guitar bridge saddle out of a rock? Robin Connaughton says, "Try it!" and collects data with an ingenuously simple plucking technique. You know that tube they put in the port of a loudspeaker? Pretty much the same thing as a tornavoz in a guitar. Mark French and Eddy Efendy give us the math. Robert Hamm made a slick little shop-built thickness sander that fills a need between a full-sized auto-feed belt sander and a Robo-sander drum chucked up in a drill press. Karl Hoyt makes a simple, reliable, and easy to assemble bolt-on uke neck joint. Jon Sevy uses cheap gizmos from Harbor Freight to measure the thickness of the sides or plates of an assembled guitar. Fit the sole of a bridge to its domed soundboard the safe and easy way, says Bob Gleason. Mark French is back with a super-simple table saw jig to taper fretboards. Fourteen years ago, Graham McDonald surveyed the steel string guitar making books of the time. He’s back with an update. Warm up that brown paper tape with a hair dryer before you pull it off. A snipped-out plan drawing makes a template. Inflatable door-hanging jack also works as a lutherie clamp.

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American Lutherie #148 – Spring 2023

Steve Kauffman builds Klein Acoustic Guitars and his own Kauffman Guitars. Steve Klein started his lutherie endeavors fifty-five years ago as a teenager in his parents’ house. Today he’s continuing to make innovative ergonomic solidbodies in his own shop. The Fibonacci Series guitar on this issue's cover is a collaborative project of the two Steves. Karl Hoyt stumbled upon a small and distressed old instrument that turned out to be made by a founding father of the authentic ukulele. Did you know that the famous Helmholtz resonance in string instruments is the note that you don’t hear? Mark Frech explains. The late Denny Stevens was an early self-taught American Lutherie Boomer. He was also a mentor to Harry Fleishman, who goes back in memory and imagination to interview Denny as he never did in life. January Williams shows us some of Denny's jigs. James Buckland reviews Seven Fine Books About the Romantic Guitar. John Calkin makes uke-sized spherically-radiused sanding dishes powered by a drill press. A 12-hole classical guitar bridge improves on the old-school 6-hole bridge, says Brent Benfield. Bob Gleason's soft side sanders look like rolling-pin sanders, but don't spin. Reviews of a new book of Graham Caldersmith’s collected papers, and Robert O’Brien's online French polish course. Harry Fleishman explains the very basics of using that brown paper binding tape, because it is OK to be a beginner. The "It Worked for Me" column covers a carving table, a brace-tapering jig, cheap and easy sanding wheels for your Dremel tool, and a sturdy electric aluminum bending iron.

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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.