American Lutherie #135
Winter 2018

On this issue’s cover we see Kerry Char removing the back from a Knutson harp guitar using alcohol and a knife. He performed this nerve-wracking feat, cool as the proverbial cuke, during his workshop at the Guild’s 2017 Convention.

Photo by Peggy Stuart

American Lutherie #135 – Winter 2018

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Setting a Violin Neck Like a Professional

from his 2017 GAL Convention workshop by Charles Rufino

Here’s a close look at the process of setting a violin neck. No innovative tools or new miracle adhesives here; just good old-fashioned methodical, careful work with traditional tools and designs.

On this issue’s cover we see Kerry Char removing the back from a Knutson harp guitar using alcohol and a knife. He performed this nerve-wracking feat, cool as the proverbial cuke, during his workshop at the Guild’s 2017 Convention.

Photo by Peggy Stuart

American Lutherie #135 – Winter 2018

$14.00$16.00

Clear
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Additional information

Choose Membership Status

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The back cover shows the hands and work of Rafael Mardones Jr. at his shop in Rancagua, Chile. Rafa Jr. follows closely in the footsteps of his mentor and father, Rafa Sr., a self-taught luthier who began building in the early 1970s.

Photo by Federico Sheppard

Training the Next Generation

from his 2017 GAL Convention lecture by Dan Erlewine with Erick Coleman and Chelsea Clark

“Uncle Dan” Erlewine has been a constant presence in the American Lutherie Boom era, because he personifies the can-do ethos that underlies the whole dang movement: figure something out, and tell everybody about it. As a young man hoping to move from rocker to luthier, he found a generous mentor in Herb David of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Dan has paid that forward many times as he has brought young people into his shop and given them a place to grow.

Removing Top and Back Guitar Plates

from his 2017 GAL Convention workshop by Kerry Char

Kerry Char; nerves of steel. Here we see him lifting the top of an old Gibson flattop, having just sawed it off in front of a group of several dozen luthiers at the 2017 GAL Convention. And within the same hour he pried the back off a Knutsen harp guitar.

GAL Instrument Plan #76: 1957 Martin 0-15 Guitar

by Tim Olsen

Martin’s 15-style guitars were the bottom of the line back in the 1940s and ’50s. All the “fancy” stuff was stripped away, leaving a very respectable all-mahogany guitar with no binding. Here’s a drawing of the smallest, cheapest one in the time-tested series.

Meet Rafael Mardones Sr. and Jr.

by Federico Sheppard

In his youth, before Federico Sheppard found his calling as a luthier, he was a mere physician working for the Olympic Games. One day he heard a classical guitar being played on the radio of his car. It shook him to “his inner core being” as Lord Buckley would say, and changed the course of his life. And now he has finally made the pilrimage to Chile to visit the shop of the man who made that guitar, Rafael Mardones, and his son, Rafa Jr.

The Convolution of a Guitar Note

by Juan Oscar Azaret

Tap on a guitar. Or listen to just the first fraction of a second as you pluck a note. Those tiny samples contain a wealth of information. Our brains already form an impression of the guitar’s sound, long before the first second has elapsed. Computers can reveal the math behind the music and help us understand and visualize what is happening.

Guitar Making: The Luthier’s Bench and the Factory

by Mark French

Lutherie is changing. Digital tools are transforming factories, and also opening new possibilities to individual shops. This brigs up new issues. Like, what if the normal accuracy gets so high that the instruments sound too similar to each other? Will it become desirable to build in a certain amount of random variation?

A DRO Fret Slotter

by Mark French

Want a robot lutherie apprentice? It is here today and it is cheap. But it doesn’t look like something from the Jetsons. It looks like this; a digital readout connected to a lead screw. With a friendly whirr, it will move the saw guide right up to the next fret position for you. But get your own dang coffee.

In Memoriam: Robert Ruck

by R.E. Bruné, Federico Sheppard, and Peter Oberg

Good ol’ Bob Ruck was part of the dozen or two friends whose talent and commitment formed the basis for the American Lutherie Boom. He was always way ahead of the curve, and as they developed, his fine classical guitars provided inspiration for others of his generation. Three friends who knew him well share their appreciations. Read his memoriam.

It Worked for Me

by Stephen Mangold, Steve Dickerson, and Brent Benfield

Make a tiny chisle from an X-acto blade. Improvise a simple tabel saw from a cordless circular saw and a piece of MDF. Use Post-it notes to accurately position braces for gluing, and simplify the removal of squeezed-out glue.

Questions

edited by R.M. Mottola

What’s the right kind of steel for a Paracho knife blade? How do you position quarter-tone frets? What’s the deal with hardwood tops on steel string guitars? Can a guitar be saved after soaking in flood water?