American Lutherie #145
Spring 2022

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On this issue’s cover, Michael Bashkin inlays pieces of marquetry into the end graft of one of his guitars. He lectured on his techniques of ornamenting pegheads and end grafts at our last GAL Convention, way back in the prepandemic days of 2017.

Photos by Michael Bashkin

Strategies for Peghead Overlays and End Grafts

from his 2017 GAL Convention workshop by Michael Bashkin

Bashkin ornaments his pegheads and end grafts with marquetry combined with thin, free-flowing veneer lines. He shows us in detail how he accomplishes some of these effects, including scorching decorative pieces in hot sand.

On this issue’s cover, Michael Bashkin inlays pieces of marquetry into the end graft of one of his guitars. He lectured on his techniques of ornamenting pegheads and end grafts at our last GAL Convention, way back in the prepandemic days of 2017.

Photos by Michael Bashkin

On the back cover, we see Matt Brewster in action in his tightly packed Manhattan repair shop.

Photo by Evan Gluck

Ruminations on Historic Guitar Restoration

by Jeffrey R. Elliott

Elliott is best known for his long career of making classical guitars of the highest quality, but he has also undertaken some major restorations of important historic instruments. Here he reviews three projects and shares thoughts about his approach.

Meet Matt Brewster

by Evan Gluck

Imagine you were a guitar repair guy, and there was another guitar repair guy in your same town. What would you do about it? If you were Evan Gluck, or any other enlightened, right-thinking luthier, you would march right over there and make him your best friend. These guys have a blast “competing” in the same market, sharing stories, customers, tools, and techniques. And yes, it does help if your hometown has over eight million people in it.

The Musical Instrument Museum — A Must-See for Luthiers

by Mark French

Frequent author Mark French spends a lot of time in the physics lab and the workshop. But here he emerges, blinking, into the Arizona sunshine to visit a fabulous musical instrument museum. In fact, it’s The Musical Instrument Museum.

Hand-Powered Radius Sanding Jig

by Roger Häggström

Häggström uses a commercially-available radiused sanding block, a few scraps of wood, and a handful of parts from the hardware store to make this simple jig. It that lets him quickly and quietly produce a fretboard with the radius and the relief accurately sanded in.

Small is Beautiful: The Piccolo Balalaika

by Sjaak Elmendorp

Here’s the story of a big guy and his little balalaika. After rashly promising a friend that he would make a balalaika although he know nothing about the distinctively triangular Russian instrument (We’ve all been there, right?), Sjaak went on to explore and build the rare descant member of the family.

A 2×4 Twofer

by Fred Casey

We sometimes hear of a luthier who enjoys the challenge of building an instrument from lumberyard materials rather than from picked and approved tonewoods. But Casey goes one better when he makes two successful instruments from a single softwood two-by-four. And it had a knot in it, just for extra fun.

Steel String Guitar Nut Slotting

Using a Stick-On Template

by R.M. Mottola

Mottola precisely describes his process for slotting a nut. All the spacing work is done on-screen, then printed out to make a template for the bench work.

Making Control Cavity Jigs

by John Calkin

Using simple, non-dedicated tooling, Calkin steps us through his straightforward, no-nonsense process of routing control cavities in solid guitar bodies.

Vertical Bending Iron Table

by Phil Ingber

Mounting an electric bending iron in such a way that it pokes up out of a work surface helps you avoid a twist in the bent side.

Reviews

Reviewed by Federico Sheppard and John Calkin

Our frequent author and online lutherie resource hero R.M. Mottola has finally gone all the way. He has written Building the Steel String Acoustic Guitar, a comprehensive, detailed construction method for building a flattop guitar. Federico Sheppard and John Calkin each review it. And John Calkin looks at another instructional video from Robbie O’Brien: Inlay Techniques with Larry Robinson.

In Memoriam: Jon Peterson

by Jeffrey R. Elliott, Cyndy Burton, and Woodley White

Jon was a member of the GAL staff for over two decades. He wrote many articles, and did all the photography for Robert Lundberg’s landmark book Historical Lute Construction.

In Memoriam: Laurence “Buzz” Vineyard

by Rick Rubin and Michael Elwell

Buzz was a very early GAL member who made beautiful and unusual mandolins and archtop guitars.

 

It Worked for Me

by Steve Kennel, Dan Alexander, and Joe Browne

Use the parts from pipe clamps to make super-powered bench hold-downs; a simple and non-toxic recipe for glue remover; make a sort of vertical solera for working on the sides and ends of guitars.