American Lutherie #139
Spring 2020

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On this issue's cover we see a photo that was taken by Federico Sheppard several years ago at the Agustin Barrios museum in Paraguay. It is a Barcelona-style guitar built in 1930 by Enrique Sanfeliu and played extensively by Barrios. Take a moment to let yourself get lost in the astonishing level of detail in the mosaics and purflings.

Guitar Maker Without Borders

from his 2017 Convention lecture by Federico Sheppard

Here’s a lutherie career so wide-ranging, so full of amazing travels and fortuitous connections, that you might be thinking of Baron Munchausen or Forrest Gump. But this is a true adventure, and he left a lot of it out in order to pack the story into a 75-minute lecture. Must read to believe. Meet Federico at the 2020 Convention.

On this issue's cover we see a photo that was taken by Federico Sheppard several years ago at the Agustin Barrios museum in Paraguay. It is a Barcelona-style guitar built in 1930 by Enrique Sanfeliu and played extensively by Barrios. Take a moment to let yourself get lost in the astonishing level of detail in the mosaics and purflings.

Speaking of Federico, our back cover shows the lovely thousand-year-old church in Spain where he hangs out. Among the artworks on display are art banners by Fred Carlson, purchased at the GAL Benefit Auction.

Photo by Federico Sheppard

The Charles Fox Guitar-Building Method, Part One

by Mark French

If, some day, there is a Mt. Rushmore for the American Lutherie Boom, the ruggedly handsome face of Charles Fox will be boldly chisled in a place of honor. For over half a century he has led the way as developer and teacher of guitar-making methods and tooling. He is also a thoughtful and articulate philosopher of the craft, whose words will inspire luthiers yet unborn. Here’s the first in a series of four articles which will cover his process, and his thinking behind it, in detail.

The J-45: Gibson’s “Workhorse” Guitar

by Kerry Char

Vintage guitar restoration specialist Kerry Char runs down the many changes that Gibson’s most popular flattop has gone through over the decades. Then he presents a full drawing of one that falls into the best period of the model: a well-worn example from 1947.

Meet the Maker: Arie van Spronssen

by Sjaak Elmendorp

Holland had a lutherie boom in the 1970s, too. Arie started out as a carpenter, but moved into lutherie after an injury. Today he makes steel string guitars and a variety of other instruments.

Less than a Thousand Guitar Repair Tips

from their 2017 GAL Convention workshop by Erick Coleman and Evan Gluck

Erick and Evan (the two Es) are back with more helpful hints for the guitar repair shop. Some of the things they show are nicely developed professional tools, like for leveling frets while the guitar is still under string tension. Then there’s a diagnostic tool that is just a stick, a guitar string, and a salvaged tuning machine. If you think that’s gronk, how about the tool that Evan calls “my string.” It’s just a string. Not even a guitar string.

The Kitchenpunk Resophonic Lap Steel

by Lee Herron

Check it out: a standard cheeze grater is easily adaptable as a guitar tailpiece. But why would you even want to know that? Because you are crafting an electric lap steel guitar on a kitchen theme, obviously! This instrument uses pots, pans, flatware, everything but the kitchen table. Wait a minute.... Yes, it actually does use the kitchen table.

If You Want to Build Guitars, Build Guitars

by Harry Fleishman

Harry has been a lot of places and made a lot of instruments in a lot of shops. Now, after fifty years as a luthier, a lutherie teacher, and a hired-gun designer, he’s right back where many folks started: in a spare bedroom. He encourages us (and himself) not to let a humble shop space be an excuse for inaction. Just do it (registered trademark)!

The Guitar Woods Experiment

by Roger Bucknall

Can people really hear the difference between different back-and-sides wood? British guitar builder Roger Bucknall is in an excellent position to explore this question. He’s the founder (in 1973) and still head honcho of boutique brand Fylde Guitars. He made a set of identical guitars except for the wood choices, and..... Read the article to see what happened.

In Memoriam: Felix Manzanero

by Ronald Fernandez

Felix Manzanero was a classical guitar maker and collector in Madrid. He spent twelve years in the shop of José Ramírez II, starting at age fourteen. Felix was a friend of author Ron Fernandez’ father, and then a lifelong friend of Ron; they visited each other’s homes in Spain and California.

Reviews of two uke-making books

by Pat Megowan

Our reviewer compares, contrasts, and waxes eloquent about The Ukulele: An Illustrated Workshop Manual by Graham McDonald and The Uke Book Illustrated by John Weissenrieder and Sarah Greenbaum. In addition to a lot of thoughful and practical analysis, he uses the metaphore of different ice-cream eating experiences to explain their complex relationship.

Questions

edited by R.M. Mottola

Can you let a fretboard extension fly free? Got good advice for a beginning ukulele builder? What’s a good file for shaping bone? They say to cut lutherie trees when the sap is down, but what does that really mean?

Web Extras

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