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 #144 - Winter 2021

Swedish luthier Roger Häggström rebuilds century-old commercial guitars to make them sound and play better than they look like they might. Federico Sheppard completes his uncompromising copy of FE08, the elaborate early opus of the master luthier Antonio Torres Jurado. Robert Anderson makes beautifully carved, inlaid, and engraved banjos in a converted tobacco barn. In the concluding episode of a six-part series, Charles Fox frets, assembles, and sets up a flattop guitar. Get the best, most accurate work from your benchtop CNC router by understanding the forces at play and calculating their effects. People teach teachers how to teach STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math) to high-school students by having them make guitars. Our reviewers like the SuperMax 16-32 drum sander, Michael Bashkin's online fretting course from, and a new book about the great Spanish master builder Vicente Arias. Find practical tips in our “It Worked for Me” column. And more.

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Scheduled to mail to 2021 members in January

Flattop Guitars 2: An American Lutherie Anthology

Members will receive Flattop Guitars 2, the fourth book in our American Lutherie Anthology series, as their fall issue for 2021. It’s a full-color, soft cover, 100-page book with articles selected from the 1983-2014 issues of American Lutherie on the topic of flattop guitars. Unlike most of the original issues of AL, this book is printed in full color.

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American Lutherie #143 – Summer 2021

Federico Sheppard tells a tale of mystery, dedication, and destiny as he builds a copy of FE08, the astonishingly elaborate early opus of the master luthier Antonio de Torres Jurado. In Part Five of our series on building a guitar with Charles Fox, the fretboard is slotted, crowned, and glued to the neck, which is then shaped. Alfred Woll discusses the development of the Neapolitan mandolin by the Vinaccia family in the 18th, 19th, and 20th century, then shows us how to make the distinctive arched-and-canted soundboard. Leonardo Michelin-Salomon builds Romantic-era guitars at the craft school in Norway. Here he takes a deep dive into building with the local spruce. Although the trees are not big, the wood is very good. Mark French shows us how to quickly make a frequency-response curve of a guitar on your bench, using a hand-held digital recorder and free software. Not cheap and easy enough? He goes on to tell you how to do the whole thing on a smart phone. Harry Fleishman starts with half of one of those little bench-top drill presses and makes a vise that can clamp to any bench top and can swivel and tilt all over the place. Steve Dickerson’s first uke build used cheap wood from the home improvement store. The humble uke came out fine. R.M. Mottola gives not-too-technical summaries of two articles recently published on-line by Savart Journal. In our Letters section, we hear about meeting Julian Bream; praise for cigar-box guitar swaps; and Charles Fox tools and jigs. Lots of reviews this time, including books on Agustin Barrios, John D’Angelico, and Jimmy D’Aquisto; a tracker gizmo; and an ambitious video teaching solidbody guitar making. The “Worked for Me” column covers a quick table saw jig for narrow ripping; a junk plane body used as a temporary tool handle; a modified Zyliss vise; and a magnetic cover for truss rod nut. And more.

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American Lutherie #142 – Spring 2021

Seven luthiers remember the great classical guitarist Julian Bream. In Part Four of our series on building a guitar with Charles Fox, the peg head is shaped and drilled, the neck shaft is slotted for the truss rod, the heel is formed, and the neck is fitted to the body. Luis Colmenares, a Venezuelan luthier and musician, updates his national instrument, the cuatro. Dan Erlewine puts together a rag-tag team of luthiers to consult on the design of a specialized new shop vise. James Buckland investigates the mystery of the terz guitar, a smaller Romantic-era guitar, and presents a full-scale plan of an authentic example. Ben Haskenhoff refrets a solidbody guitar with a bound fretboard while preserving the binding nibs. Doug Hunt and Mark French dare each other to make a useful guitar for a total investment of $75. One makes a flattop, the other a solid body. Terence Warbey makes efficient use of plywood by making an entire knock-down bending form and outside mold for a flattop guitar from a single sheet. Max Krimmel explains the tuning of marimba bars and resonators, and muses on how we can clarify our thinking about guitar resonances. Bob Gleason makes a big honkin’ C clamp for pressing home a dovetail joint. John Calkin talks about when to get rid of machines that junk up our shops. Our reviewers like Jay Lichty’s online uke building course, and new books about Romanillos’ late-period classical guitars and Freeman Vines’ rough-and-ready electrics. And more.

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American Lutherie 2020 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.