American Lutherie #112
Winter 2012

On this issue’s cover, we see a steel string guitar body being built on a workboard at the École-atelier Lutherie-Guitare Bruand in Montréal. Many mundane items, designed for use in the tedious tasks of everyday life, can be given a higher calling in the quest for lutherie excellence. Take, for example, the humble clothespin. Add a rubber band, and you’ve got a great little clamp for gluing linings. And why get plain ones when they can be a riot of Easter-Bunny colors? Go ahead. Live a little.

Photo courtesy of Andre Brunet

American Lutherie #112 – Winter 2012

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Ultralight Cello and Other Heresies

from his 2011 GAL Convention lecture by James Ham

Jim Ham started this lecture with a quick blind listening demonstration in which the crowd agreed that a crazy-looking balsa fiddle made by a boatbuilder sounded fine. That’s the “heresy” referred to in the title. Jim went on to describe the many unusual features and materials of his experimental ultralight cello.

On this issue’s cover, we see a steel string guitar body being built on a workboard at the École-atelier Lutherie-Guitare Bruand in Montréal. Many mundane items, designed for use in the tedious tasks of everyday life, can be given a higher calling in the quest for lutherie excellence. Take, for example, the humble clothespin. Add a rubber band, and you’ve got a great little clamp for gluing linings. And why get plain ones when they can be a riot of Easter-Bunny colors? Go ahead. Live a little.

Photo courtesy of Andre Brunet

American Lutherie #112 – Winter 2012

$8.00$10.00

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On the back cover we see a finished harp guitar by Kathy Wingert. In this issue, Kathy shows how she executed the dramatic soundboard inlay inspired by the work of designers Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh.

Photo by Richard Salas

Meet the Makers: Bruand School Class of 2011

by R.M. Mottola

The young graduates of Montréal’s Bruand School were quite a hit at the 2011 GAL Convention. R.M. Mottola followed up and got the story of how the kids found the school, what they learned, and what they are doing now.

Stahl Style 6 Guitar built by Carl and August Larson, Serial #81225 “Lisa”

by January Williams

January Williams took a liking to this fine-sounding guitar, owned by GAL member Denis Merrill. The more he looked at it, the more interesting it became. It features a highly-domed top braced by laminated spruce-and-rosewood X braces. We present an image of GAL Instrument Plan #66 plus lots of detail photos and an essay that uncovers a lot of information about the instrument’s builders, the Larson Brothers.

GAL Instrument Plan #66: Stahl Style 6 Parlor Guitar #81225

Drawn by January Williams

Reduced plan image appears in article. For more information on the full-scale instrument plan, see GAL Instrument Plan #66.

Meet the Maker: Alan Carruth

by Tom Harper

Al Carruth has been a cheerleader for informed lutherie since the 1970s. He’s been a consistent presence at GAL conventions and a frequent author in American Lutherie. In this issue we follow him from his days as a grade-school kid who won prizes for making model kits to a respected sage and accomplished builder.

Mackintosh Inspired Inlay

by Kathy Wingert

Harp guitars offer new opportunities for decorative embellishment. Kathy Wingert designed a large swoop of figured maple that echoes the elegant work of architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and she shows us the process of inlaying it into the spruce top.

American Mandobass History 101

by Paul Ruppa

The mandobass is the wooly mammoth of American musical instruments; often mentioned but rarely encountered. Raise your hand if you have heard of a mandobass. OK, hands down. Now raise your hand if you have actually seen one. Uh-huh. Paul Ruppa take us to school and shows us a few specimens of the breed.

Reviews

Pierre Audinet reviews Stauffer & Co., a lavish multi-language production that may upset our assumptions about the central role of Torres and the Spanish tradition in the evolution of the classical guitar. Michael De Luca reviews Building an Electric Archtop Guitar by J.P. Laplante. He finds a lot of good in it, but warns that we need to be aware that it is based on the use of commercially-available laminated plates and sides.

It Worked for Me

by Gary Hopkins, John Mello, and Mark French

Sure, you can put a big honkin’ exhaust fan in your shop for when you spray finish, but Gary Hopkins shows us how to hook up one of those anti-snoring masks and bring the fresh air directly to your nose instead. John Mello assembled a pair of nice mikes on a desktop mike stand along with a digital recorder to make a compact unit for recording live guitar performances. Mark French shows us how to reliably drill out the shaft holes in control knobs.