American Lutherie #101
Spring 2010

This issue’s cover shows the artsy cast-aluminum string anchor on Ben Patron’s “chicken-ranch-roof” reconfigured guitar. This metal-bodied archtop acoustic also features a one-piece stainless steel fingerboard with die-pressed frets.

Photo courtesy of Ben Patron

American Lutherie #101- Spring 2010

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Low-Stress Archtop Guitar Design

from his 2008 GAL Convention workshop by Steve Grimes

Steve Grimes has been experimenting with making lighter-built soundboards for archtop guitars and decreasing the breakover angle. He likes the sound he's getting. He shows us in some detail how he does it.

This issue’s cover shows the artsy cast-aluminum string anchor on Ben Patron’s “chicken-ranch-roof” reconfigured guitar. This metal-bodied archtop acoustic also features a one-piece stainless steel fingerboard with die-pressed frets.

Photo courtesy of Ben Patron

American Lutherie #101- Spring 2010

$4.00$5.00

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On our back cover is a partial view of one of Ted Megas’ beautiful archtops, in quilted maple with flamed koa binding.

Photo by Ted Megas

Meet The Maker: Ben Patron

by Roger Alan Skipper

Ben Patron has lots of great lutherie ideas, and he's not afraid to try them. He makes very useful guitars out of gold pans, chicken ranch roofs, and sheets of stainless steel. He also makes reproductions of guitars by D’Angelico, Torres, and Panormo.

Restoration of a Michelot Late Baroque Guitar

by D. and F. Sinier de Ridder

There was a time in the 19th century when Baroque guitars were not treasured antiques, they were just old-fashioned. Here’s one that got chopped into a “Spanish” guitar back then. Now it has been restored back to its original configuration by a Parisian lutherie team.

Strings: The (Often) Forgotten Accessory

from his 2008 GAL Convention lecture by Fan Tao

D’Addario’s resident physicist shows us some of the numbers that underpin the design of strings. Only a little simple math. Honest.

Meet the Maker: Ted Megas

by Jonathon Peterson

Ted Megas makes gorgeous archtops, but lutherie wasn't his first career choice. Read in this issue about how he came to be a guitar maker. He also has a hankering for machines. Big ones. Cast iron by the ton.

Making Mother-of-Pearl Nuts

by Ted Megas

A pearl nut is a classy appointment and a well-accepted aesthetic choice for archtop guitars. Ted quickly runs us through his process for making them from shells.

The Two-Storey Dulcimer

by Roger Alan Skipper

This fancy dulcimer has an internal spruce back. The idea is to fully involve the back in sound production rather than having it damped by the player’s legs. Did it work? Read all about it in this issue.

Not Only Cones Make It — and Cylinders Almost Do

by F.A. Jaén

Seems resonable that the strings of a guitar, not being parallel, could not properly lie on a fretboard that describes a cylinder, doesn't it? But run the numbers. We are in for a surprise. Looks like Fender wasn’t that far wrong after all.

Testing Threaded Inserts

by R.M. Mottola

Lots of folks use threaded inserts to bolt necks onto flattop guitars these days. But should you use the inserts that are advertized “for wood”, or those “for metal”? We could discuss how many angels could dance on the nut of a truss rod, or we could just yank some inserts out of a piece of mahogany. The author does the latter, concluding that the inserts “for metal” are more effective for our application.

Travel Lute

by Ben Cohen

Lutes don't travel well, with their fragile construction and long pegheads. Here’s an easy-to-build practice lute that you can put in a padded bag and toss in the overhead.

Thicknessing Router Jig with Magnet Holdowns

by John Park

Here’s a compact and inexpensive alternative to an abrasive planer. The thing that makes work so well is the use of high-powered magnetic balls to hold the work down to the platten.

Reducing Build Variation in Arched Plates

by Mark French and Eddy Efendy

Imagine a CNC router carving an archtop guitar soundboard in an industrial situation. Quality control would check to confirm that parts are the same thickness. But really, we would like the tops made from stiffer material to be cut thinner. Here's an idea for making that all happen automatically without any measurement or analysis needed.

Lutherie Curmudgeon

by John Calkin

The Lutherie Curmudgeon. He's been there, done that. Life has made him wise but grumpy. He's here to give you good advice about the mean streets of lutherie. Watch your back, kid.

It Worked for Me

by Ted Megas, Harry Fleishman, Mark Roberts, and Lennis Lavioletté

Make a longer plane by replacing the front sole of a block plane. Keep strings tidy while working on bridges. Cheap improvements for bench vises. Easily string up a half-done guitar to confirm bridge intonation.

Reviews

Author and vintage guitar expert Walter Carter likes novelist Jonathan Kellerman’s book about his wonderful personal guitar collection. John Calkin likes the tough-love advise in Kent Everett’s new booklet on making a living in lutherie.

Questions

edited by R.M. Mottola

Questions and answers about water soaked logs, spraying lacquer in a basement, Bruné’s Hauser plan, liquid hide glue, string tension for 19th-century guitars, universal fret scales, and music wire.

In Memoriam: Taku Sakashta

by Tom Ribbecke

Tom Ribbecke mourns his friend and respected collegue Taku Sakashta. Read his Memoriam.