American Lutherie #98
Summer 2009

This issue’s cover shows a cutaway classical guitar by Cyndy Burton.

Photo by Jeffrey Elliott

This issue is out-of-print.

The Archtop Guitar: Perspectives on the Present and Future

from their 2008 GAL Convention panel discussion by Steve Grimes, Ted Megas, Tom Ribbecke and moderator Jeffrey Elliott

So the American archtop guitar is well over a century old, and we are two or three decades into the great archtop revival. In this panel discussion, three leading makers eschew the past and talk about what they are doing now, why they do it that way, and where they will go from here.

This issue’s cover shows a cutaway classical guitar by Cyndy Burton.

Photo by Jeffrey Elliott

This issue is out-of-print.

On the back cover are eight Burton rosettes. Cyndy’s figured-wood rosettes are much admired and her approach has been widely copied. Clockwise from upper left: Spalted maple burl; spalted, figured big-leaf maple; butterfly/wave mosaic rosette; bird’s eye maple burl; spalted Brazilian rosewood sapwood; chip-carved rosette; spalted Oregon myrtle. Center is her first figured-wood rosette, on a guitar made jointly with Jeff Elliott, in desert ironwood burl with a heartwood/sapwood pattern.

Photo by Jeffrey Elliott

Meet The Maker: Cyndy Burton

by Tim Olsen

As a guitar maker, an author, a meeting organizer, a presenter at GAL Conventions, and a long-time editor for American Lutherie magazine, Cyndy Burton has had a significant impact on the Lutherie Boom generation. Get the details on her story and her opinions in this issue. That’s her high-school yearbook photo from the ’70s. Click to see her today.

This article appears in our anthology book Classical Guitars.

Electric Guitar Setup

from their 2006 GAL Convention workshop by Erick Coleman and Elliot John-Conry

Erick and Elliot show us how to take an electric guitar fret job and action setup to a new level of refinement. Tips and tricks to get it just right.

Restoring a “Church Bass”

by Frederick C. Lyman

Long-time GAL member and author Fred Lyman restored an early American bass fiddle some years ago. It now resides at Yale University. Fred briefly describes the process, from basket case to museum piece.

Meet the Maker: James Buckland

by John Calkin

As a Canadian teenager, Jim Buckland was into shredding fusion rock in the basement with his brother and another kid. As he moved through college and post-grad work, his focus moved to making and performing on the 19th-century preclassical guitar. We hear the story of that journey in this issue, plus get a lot of information on guitar history.

This article appears in our anthology book Classical Guitars.

Two Tuvan Instruments

by Thomas Johnson

Maybe you have seen Tuvan throat singers on PBS, and wondered what was up with those big crazy two-string fiddles they were sawing on. Here’s your answer. We present drawings and brief descriptions of the igil and the morin khuur. We are pleased to offer it as GAL Instrument Plan #60.

GAL Instrument Plan #60: Two Tuvan Instruments

Drawn by Thomas Johnson

Reduced plan image appears in article. For more information on the full-scale instrument plan, see GAL Instrument Plan #60.

Fretboard Slotting with a CNC Router

by John Svizzero and R.M. Mottola

In the future, luthiers will have small, affordable robots to accurately slot fretbords and do cool stuff like stop the slot short of the edge to give a self-bound effect. Well, the future is today.

Dulcimer 101

by John Calkin

If you are of the geezerly generation, your first instrument project may well have been a mountain dulcimer. If not, you may never have bothered. Veteran guitar maker John Calkin takes a new look at making the old standby with his characteristically blunt approach, hoping to make it a fun, straightforward, and profitable was to develop guitar-making skills.

A Survey of Guitar Making Books

by Graham McDonald

From the bottom of the globe comes an overview of lutherie how-to texts from Australian maker Graham McDonald. He compares and contrasts the many volumes as he reviews them in chronological order.

Product Reviews

by Andrew Mowry

Andrew Mowry loves his cheap little spoon plane. He explains why and tells you where to get it.

It Worked for Me

by Kenny Hill and Patrick Fanning

Kenny Hill drills soundports into beautifully finished guitars. That’s the fun way. Patrick Fanning tries out the design of a “wedgie” guitar in 3D paper before cutting any wood. Prudent.


edited by R.M. Mottola

I found some things like cast iron pancake griddles, but they are shaped like guitars. What are they? How hot should side wood be when you bend it? If I make a guitar and donate it to charity, can I take the market value off my taxes?

In Memoriam: Lance McCollum

by Harvey Leach

Guitar maker Lance McCollum passed away suddenly. His friend Harvey Leach remembers a fine builder and a great guy. Read his memoriam.