American Lutherie #111
Fall 2012

This issue’s cover shows violin maker Robert Spear using a small loudspeaker, a signal generator, and some glitter to find the modes of vibration in a cello top. His technique, now well known in the violin making and guitar making communities, was taught to him by physics and lutherie pioneer Carleen Hutchins.

Photo by Cyndy Burton

American Lutherie #111 – Fall 2012

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Vintage Restoration: Playability and Collectability

from his 2011 GAL Convention lecture by Joe Konkoly

Joe looks at getting the details right on vintage steel string guitar bridge and nut replacements, and then talks about the major modification for which he is known: replacing the carved top of an old Martin archtop with an authentic-style flat soundboard.

This issue’s cover shows violin maker Robert Spear using a small loudspeaker, a signal generator, and some glitter to find the modes of vibration in a cello top. His technique, now well known in the violin making and guitar making communities, was taught to him by physics and lutherie pioneer Carleen Hutchins.

Photo by Cyndy Burton

American Lutherie #111 – Fall 2012

$8.00$10.00

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On the back cover, Robert has just glued a bass bar into a viola top using three simple and elegant wooden clamps.

Photo by Cyndy Burton

Meet the Maker: Robert Spear

by Roger Alan Skipper

Robert Spear worked with two lutherie mentors who could not have been more different. One was German-trained Karl Roy, and the other was the self-taught American maverick Carleen Hutchins. Robert learned a lot from each of them, individually. Today he specializes in instruments of the New Violin Family, an octet of carefully sized fiddles from tiny to huge designed by Hutchins.

An Appreciation of Karl Roy

by Robert Spear

Spear met his mentor in 1974 when Karl Roy came over from Germany to guest-teach a summer seminar at the University of New Hampshire. At that time Roy was the director of the German state violin making school. He returned every summer for decades and had a major impact on the course of American violin making.

Bob’s Workshop: Glitter and Glue

by Cyndy Burton

Here’s a little closeup how-to info from opposite poles of Robert Spear’s violin making experience. He glues in a bass bar with hide glue and wooden clamps, then fires up the signal generator to measure the shape and frequency of vibration modes in a cello top.

Fretboard/Top Plate Geometry of the Flattop Guitar

by R.M. Mottola

When designing a flattop guitar, calculating the height of a bridge or the pitch of a neck can get complicated when you add in factors like top doming, fretboard taper, and neck relief. But with R.M. Mottola as your spirit guide in this spooky forest of equations, you will brave any danger.

Meet the Maker: Don Bradley

by Tom Harper

Don Bradley attended the Roberto-Venn school in 1976 and has been a GAL member since 1977. He keeps llamas and has driven a fully electric car for many years. And if you do glitter testing (aka free plate tuning) you most likely use a signal generator that he built.

On the GAL’s 40th Anniversary: How It All Began

by Deb Olsen

Here at GAL World Headquarters, we try not to spend a lot of time or page space blowing our own horns. Last time we did so was a full twenty years ago, so we thought maybe it was OK to tell a few stories on ourselves for a change. It has been forty years since some teenage kids mimeographed the first issue of what has grown to become the world’s foremost lutherie journal. If you want to know the secret of the GAL’s success, it’s right there on page 59.

Making a Spiral Rainbow Rosette

by David Freeman

Longtime GAL member, luthier, and lutherie teacher David Freeman has found a way to make the rings around a rosette in a spiral form instead of concentric rings. He shows how it’s done and suggests some interesting decorative possibilities.

Visual Overview for Making Laminated Sides

by Larry Breslin

Larry shows us his process of laminating guitar sides from three veneers in fourteen step-by-step photos and some concise text.

It Worked for Me

by Eron Harding, Jason Rodgers, and Jean Francois Noel

Age your new screws for use on vintage solidbody guitars by dipping them in acid. Make a dust hood for your Wagner Safe-T-Planer. Make a bracket to hold a solidbody guitar while spraying it.

Questions

edited by R.M. Mottola

We get to answers to questions about guitar neck stability in humidity change; top thickness in flattop acoustic basses; keeping ebony dust from staining spruce tops; bending sides with steam; financial realities and the lutherie life; and cracks in rosewood.

In Memoriam: Joseph R. Johnson

by Deb Olsen

Joe Johnson was just a great guy, and we are glad we knew him. Back in 1987 he suggested the GAL hold its national convention at the Shrine to Music Museum where he was serving as Museum Educator. With his expert help it turned out to be a great idea, and we held conventions there in 1988 and 1992. Read his memoriam.