American Lutherie #150
Winter 2023

On this issue’s cover we see a jig for accurately and safely cutting a side soundport in a classical guitar.

Jig, guitar, and photo by Jeffrey R. Elliott

American Lutherie #150 – Winter 2023


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The Gibson L-1: A Modern Recreation

by Sjaak Elmendorp

The technology and fashion of wooden instruments move forward inexorably, although whether that “forward” motion is the same as improvement can be a matter of debate for decades or centuries. Elmendorp made what he calls a “faithful impression rather than accurate reproduction” of a 1907-style Gibson L-1: small body, carved top, floating bridge, round hole.

On this issue’s cover we see a jig for accurately and safely cutting a side soundport in a classical guitar.

Jig, guitar, and photo by Jeffrey R. Elliott

American Lutherie #150 – Winter 2023


SKU: N/A Category:

Additional information

Choose Membership Status


On the back cover we see a Gibson L-1 archtop guitar from 1915. The adjustable bridge is not original. Sjaak Elmendorp describes building a non-exact replica of this instrument.

Photo courtesy of The Guitar Company (Netherlands).

Effect of String Tension on Archtop Guitar Action Height

by Sjaak Elmendorp

When you tighten the strings on an archtop guitar, the neck lifts forward and the action height increases. At the same time, the bridge pushes the top down and the action height decreases. It’s a win-win! So you can just feel lucky about it and proceed naively along your life path, or you can do what Elmendorp did: get a bucket of water, a piece of wire, and a dial indicator; collect some data; then crunch the numbers.

Let’s Catch Up With Richard Bruné and Marshall Bruné

by Mark French

Richard “R.E.” Bruné was in the GAL’s very first cohort and was an author and convention presenter from the very beginning. We’ve visited him a couple of times over the decades. His son Marshall was born into the business, and into the Guild. Together they run a large workshop and epicenter of classical guitar making, scholarship, restoration, appreciation, and dealing.

The Double-Neck WeissenBro

by Lee Herron

A Dobro is good clean fun. And then maybe you’ll want to expand your lap-steel playing to include an acoustic Hawaiian guitar. Wouldn’t it be great to have them both on your lap at the same time? Do it. Go on; you are a luthier, you can mash them up. A Dobro... a Weissenborn... a WeissenBro!

Denny’s Jigs, Part Two

by January Williams

Author Williams bought the lutherie estate of the late Denny Stevens several years ago. He has taken an archeological approach to it, pondering over the nicely crafted gizmos he has discovered, and reporting them to us as he figures out the function of the various treasures.

Reducing Frequency Error in Electric Guitars

by Mark French, Devon Pessler, and Alyssa Fernandez

Ya talk about rabbit holes. Research into guitar intonation just gets deeper and deeper. This article homes in on individual string compensation at the nut, plus small adjustments to the position of the 1st and 2nd frets. Industrial strength data collection. Heed the eggheads.

The Two-Day Ukulele: Inducting Novice Luthiers

by William T. Crocca

A group of mature woodworkers set themselves the challenge of designing and presenting a two-day class in which kids and families can build a StewMac uke kit. It involved setting up twenty workstations. The class was a success, and everyone went home with a strung uke “in the white.”

Neck-Carving Jig

by Carl Hallman

Author Carl Hallman likes to develop methods and jigs that let the various operations involved in making a fine guitar repeatable and accurate. This one is an evolution of an idea used for making bolt-on necks for solidbodies, adapted for an acoustic guitar neck with a full heel and angled peghead.

Fret-Buzz Detector

by John Kruse

Like you might have heard, it is possible to locate a buzzing fret on a guitar that uses metal strings by exploiting the fact that an electrical connection would be made when the string briefly touched the fret. It can be hard to see a flickering light or see a response on a VOM. This little project is optimized to make that contact visible and audible.

Self-Centering Sideport Jig

by Jeffrey R. Elliott

Whatever the task may be, million-year GAL member Jeff Elliott does it right. Here he turns his attention to a jig for accurately placing and cleanly cutting a side sound port in a classical guitar.

Making Solid Linings for Guitars

by Mike Doolin

Doolin shows us how to make nice solid wood linings starting with veneer from the hardware store. They turn out great, and you have your choice of colors: light, or dark.

My Friend Bob Lundberg

by Birck Cox

The late Robert Lundberg is legendary as a lute maker and educator, but Birck Cox knew him before all that, back when Lundberg was working on fiberglass race cars. They met while unloading a moving van and were friends for many years.

In Memoriam: George A. Smith

by Maria Gonzalez-Leon, Peter Tsiorba, and David Franzen

George Smith was one of that rare breed: A self-starter guitar maker before the American Lutherie Boom. Here’s three fond remembrances by people who were glad to have known him well.

Simple Things

by Harry Fleishman

Snip a drinking straw at an angle to make a great tool for clearing wet glue squeezeout. And there’s a “sharpee” that’s better than a Sharpee-brand sharpee. Plus more simple things. Like, get the good brand of pencils.

Letters from our Readers

The Hammond Glider saw is a rare and wonderful thing. It was intended to cut type metal, but we get guidance on using it to cut wood. An Australian retiree has made a cello, and intends to make more. Numerous members enthuse about the recent Convention.

Review: You Will Be a Builder of Musical Instruments by Edward Victor Dick

by John Calkin

After decades in the wood shop, the burning energy of one’s young self can seem remote. Our reviewer says that this little book about a remarkable life in lutherie helped him to remember.

It Worked for Me

by Dan Alexander, Paul Dzatko, Steve Kennel, Terence Warbey, and Dan’l Brazinski

Make your sanding dish even more useful. Apply superglue with a quill pen that you made from a Q-tip. Make try squares and bevel squares with clear-plastic blades. Easy alignment for guitar mold halves. No-slip scarf joint clamping. K&K pickup positioning and gluing tool.