The Guild of American Luthiers is a membership organization for luthiers and anyone interested in the art, craft, and science of stringed musical instrument building, repair, and restoration.

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Guild Membership


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United States, Outside United States


2019, 2019+2020, 2020, 2020+2021

The Guild has led the way since 1972 to create a community of craftspeople who want to share their knowledge, experience, and inspiration about lutherie with their fellow members. The spirit of information sharing among our members has made us the foremost source of lutherie knowledge.

We invite you to join the GAL - membership is open to everyone! The primary benefit of membership is one year of our highly regarded quarterly journal American Lutherie, which includes three regular issues in the spring, summer, and winter and one double anthology issue in the fall. Members receive a membership certificate and discounts on GAL publications and advertising. Members have exclusive access our new premium web content and will also automatically receive our occasional email newsletters. Only members can exhibit at GAL Conventions. And your membership dues ($60 in the USA, and $72 everywhere else) help support and sustain the Guild’s mission and activities.

As you can see from our catalog of books, back issues, and plans, the Guild is an idea that has been working to educate and inspire luthiers for over four decades. Join the Guild of American Luthiers and participate in our long and successful information sharing experiment.

The Guild is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational membership organization.

Membership dues are paid on a calendar-year basis (i.e., 2019, 2020, and so on), and members receive the four issues for a given year, no matter what time of year they join.


American Lutherie

Our respected quarterly journal American Lutherie focuses on all aspects of the art, craft, and science of stringed instrument making and repair, and it reflects the varied interests of our diverse membership. Rich in quality content, friendly in tone, and abundantly illustrated with full-color photos, each 76-page issue contains interviews, adventures, research, opinion, reviews, and how-to information, all of specific interest to the maker and repairer of stringed musical instruments.

Sharing lutherie information is what the Guild is all about, and American Lutherie is our primary vehicle for accomplishing that goal. Articles come from two sources: those produced by the GAL staff in collaboration with our members (such as presentations from our conventions, and interviews with instrument makers), and voluntary submissions by Guild members themselves. Our volunteer authors are motivated by a desire to benefit others with what they have learned, and to support the give-and-take system employed by the Guild.

In American Lutherie, we strive to publish methods, opinions, and explanations that are backed by experience. GAL members find the techniques, practices, and materials of other builders to be of value in their own workshops, whether in their own specific fields or not. This wide outlook and open attitude is basic to the success of the Guild. It seems to be working. Never has the worldwide lutherie scene been stronger, deeper, more productive, or more highly regarded. The Guild and its members are proud to continue to be a part of the ongoing advancement of the luthier’s craft.

What started as a small newsletter in 1972, grew and developed into our full-sized journal American Lutherie in 1985, and went to full-color printing in 2011. Beginning in 2000, we collected three years of American Lutherie at a time into large hardcover volumes called the Big Red Books of American Lutherie, as the back issues went out of print. We published seven Big Red Books, covering eighty-four issues of American Lutherie magazine.

Four issues of American Lutherie are the main benefit of annual GAL membership. Want to get the current issues of American Lutherie? Become a GAL member today! Members receive three regular issues (spring, summer, and winter) and a double American Lutherie anthology issue in the fall.

Current Issues

The Guild is Great!


Jay Lichty, Tryon, North Carolina

"Let’s face it. when you become a luthier, you become one of us. This is a family. OK, a family of nuts, but still family. We are a different breed who share our passion and our tricks. The best place to come and benefit from your new family is the Guild of American Luthiers. And talk about quality and bang for the buck: Hands down, the best, most consistent publication of our craft in the world is American Lutherie, which by itself is worth the price of membership. And what a great organization to support. I am proud to be a member and look forward to the next Convention, which is a family reunion of sorts."


Dana Bourgeois, Brunswick, ME

"Back in the mid ’70s, when I first started building guitars, information on the topic of lutherie was not so easy to come by. At that time a few good books were available, but guitar-building wannabes like myself had to make do without such luxuries as guitar schools, local luthier communities, apprenticeships, and the internet. There was a GAL, however, whose publications and conventions quickly became my lifeline to a universe of information. In the interim a lot has changed. Information is now widely available from so many sources that one can spend a lifetime digesting it all. Of all the sources out there, though, GAL is still the deepest, widest, and the one I find most rewarding. If I had to start over again I’d get myself a membership to the Guild of American Luthiers, a workbench, and a Stew-Mac catalogue, in precisely that order."


Stephen Marchione, Houston, Texas

"The GAL is the ultimate worldwide resource for lutherie information; from design to tool skills and technique. The fraternity of the GAL is the bedrock of the institution which has invaluably contributed to the modern stringed instrument as we know it and the success of many prominent members."


R.E. Bruné, Evanston, IL

"After over 40 years of lutherie, I still have a lot to learn, and the GAL is THE source of information, a veritable living encyclopedia of lutherie that eclipses the endeavors of any individual luthier. From the magazine and plans to the conventions, you can't get this information anywhere else, for any price. Why anyone who has even modicum of interest in lutherie is not a member is beyond my comprehension."


Fred Carlson, Santa Cruz, California

“Why join the GAL? Besides the obvious reason of all the knowledge to be shared, I think that for the art to move forward and for us as individual luthiers and humans to evolve, we need each other; we need to be part of a larger community. Having access to knowledge and experience is priceless, but having access to people is the thing. So much that is worthwhile about life comes from human contact. Many of my best friends I've met through the GAL. Many jobs and opportunities have come to me because fellow luthiers have come to know and respect my work enough to send clients, suppliers, and others in my direction. I'm convinced that my long-time membership and participation in the GAL has been one of the most important factors in achieving the level of success and enjoyment I've gotten from being a crazy, self-employed luthier/artist. Join the GAL; it may be the single best thing you can do for yourself as an aspiring or practicing luthier.”


Jeff Elliott, Portland, Oregon

“When I was introduced to the Guild in 1975 it was a fledgling organization with a grand vision. I joined because I believed in that vision: by sharing our collective lutherie experiences we would increase everyone's understanding and raise our own level of craft faster and more fully than any one of us might achieve by working alone. Each of us has something to share and something to learn. Together we're extraordinary. For over 30 years I have witnessed this ideal become an ongoing reality for thousands of luthiers, musicians, and aficionados the world over, and am proud to feel a part of it. Together with the unanticipated but equally satisfying benefit of lifelong friendships and professional camaraderie, my life has been immeasurably enriched. Thank you GAL.”


Harry Fleishman, Sebastopol, California

“I recommend, with only a hint of threat, that my students join the GAL immediately. I tell them that not only will they learn a lot and support a good group, but also they will have access to some of the best luthiers in the world. The Guild has been instrumental in fostering the idea that we learn together and grow together. Yes, there are too many luthiers; yes, the competition is getting fiercer by the day. But more luthiers has raised the bar for all of us and moved us from emulating the 19th century to creating the 21st. Joining GAL isn't enough, however. I encourage new members, especially younger members, to contribute. This gets fresh ideas into the lutherie community and also helps younger builders get known. Everybody wins.”

The Guild of American Luthiers is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt educational organization. The Guild is supported by our members through their membership dues, as well as through the sale of our educational materials, and donations. The Guild does not receive any outside funding, grants, or corporate sponsorship.

We welcome and appreciate monetary donations of any amount. Donations to the Guild are tax deductible in the USA. (Membership dues, purchases, convention fees, etc. are not considered donations.) The Guild is registered with the Charities Program of the State of Washington’s Secretary of State.

In addition to cash donations, we also raise funds for the Guild at the Benefit Auction at our GAL Conventions. Members can donate wood, tools and other lutherie-related items or services (including lutherie courses) that are auctioned in silent and live auctions to the highest bidder. In the past, we’ve received substantial donations of lutherie estates. Items donated to the Guild are tax deductible to the fair market value as determined by the donor. If you are considering donating an estate or other valuable item or service, or would like to ship items for a future auction, please feel free to contact us so we can make the most of your donation.

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