American Lutherie #140
Summer 2020

You must be a 2020 member to receive this issue. Join or Renew your membership now!

On this issue’s cover we see a brace being chalk-fitted to an archtop guitar soundboard during Stephen Marchione’s 2017 GAL Convention workshop. Does that plane shaving perhaps remind you of one of those improbably gossamer banners being gently wafted by cherubs in the ceiling painting of a Rococo mansion?

Photo by Brian Stone

Chalk-fitting Guitar Braces

from his 2017 GAL Convention workshop by Stephen Marchione

The braces in an archtop guitar are very similar to the bars in fiddles, and Marchione fits them with the same traditional techniques. The mating surface of the brace is roughed out with a chisel, then refined with a small plane, and perfected with files and scrapers. Chalk shows the whole truth of the fit. Believe the chalk.

On this issue’s cover we see a brace being chalk-fitted to an archtop guitar soundboard during Stephen Marchione’s 2017 GAL Convention workshop. Does that plane shaving perhaps remind you of one of those improbably gossamer banners being gently wafted by cherubs in the ceiling painting of a Rococo mansion?

Photo by Brian Stone

Speaking of art painting, on our back cover, Kerry Char employs a bit of faux bois to finish up a challenging restoration project. The back has been extended with a filler material, and he is painting in the pattern of the rosewood.

Photo by Kerry Char

Meet the Maker: John Jordan

by Paul Schmidt

John Jordan was a young guy happily repairing instruments and making guitars when he got a commission to make an experimental electric violin. It turned out well enough to take his career in a new direction. Read his story and see some of his diverse and beautiful work.

The Charles Fox Guitar-Building Method, Part Two

by Mark French

Building a Charles Fox guitar reveals the beautifully developed interdependence between the design and the process. In this episode we rough out the neck, work with the unusual neck block and the distinctive two-part lining, and then brace the top and back plates.

A Larson Bros. Harp Guitar Restoration

from his 2017 GAL Convention workshop by Kerry Char

This ornate contraption had seen a lot of use and abuse in almost a dozen decades of service. Long-ago modifications plus the pull of sixteen strings left it in a sorry state. It had to be taken in hand rather decisively to be brought back into playing condition. Two necks, the back, the enormous bridge, and a lot of bracing came off. It gets pretty scary.

Javier Campos Tijeras, The French Polisher’s French Polisher

by Federico Sheppard

Many of the fine hand-made guitars that are born in Granada, Spain, spend a few weeks in the shop of Javier Campos Tijeras receiving a light, thin coating of shellac before they venture out into a cruel world of fingernails, cigarette smoke, and shaky guitar stands. Javi explains his process and holds nothing back about the specific materials and supplies he uses.

Little Lutherie Class on the Prairie
Teaching Guitar Making in a Saskatchewan High School

by Glen Friesen

Some public servants take on challenging tasks that many of us would fear to attempt. I’m not talking about fire fighters or the people who change light bulbs on the tops of suspension bridges. I’m talking about high school shop teachers. And here’s a guy who has been teaching guitar making in public school for twenty years. Hats off to you, sir! And respect to the students. These guitars look pretty good.

Bamboo Laminate for Classical Guitar Back and Sides

by Geoff Needham

Bamboo is kinda like wood, right? Ever wonder if you could make a guitar out of it? Nowadays it comes in large panels of edge-laminated strips that are about the right thickness. The author made two nice classical guitars with bamboo sides and backs, and gives the material a big thumbs-up for workability, appearance, and sound.

Making Notched Straightedges

by Bob Gleason

Straightedges that are notched to fit over frets have become popular tools for judging the straightness of fretboards, and for projecting the surface of the board for setting neck angles. You can make your own, with the advantage that you can use any fret scale. Here’s how.

In Memoriam: Graham Caldersmith

by Juan Oscar Azaret

Pioneering guitar maker, guitar designer, acoustics researcher, and author Graham Caldersmith has passed away. If you knew him, perhaps from his attendance at GAL Conventions, read this affectionate remembrance. If you didn’t, read it to find out what we’ve lost.

When Does “Replica” Become “Inspired By?”

by C.F. Casey

Nearly twenty years ago, Casey made a detailed drawing of a 7-string Russian guitar which we published as GAL Instrument Plan #48. Recently, he was called on to make a replica of that instrument. Sure, he had the drawing, but he took a few liberties with the project. He tells us what he did, and why.

Review: Cyclopedic Dictionary of Lutherie Terms

by James Buckland

Review: Iconic Guitars in Life Size

by Mike Doolin

Two books, two reviewers, two thumbs up. Or is it four thumbs up? Thumbs are up; that’s the thing of it.

Questions

edited by R.M. Mottola

One question this time: How big should a flamenco guitar tap plate be? Turns out there’s a fair amount to be said about it.

Web Extras

View photo gallery for this issue of American Lutherie.