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Review: The Luthier’s Mercantile Catalog for Stringed Instrument Makers

Review: The Luthier’s Mercantile Catalog for Stringed Instrument Makers

Reviewed by Frederick Battershell

Originally published in American Lutherie #4, 1985 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume One, 2000



The Luthier’s Mercantile Catalog for Stringed Instrument Makers
The Luthier’s Mercantile
P.O. Box 774, 412 Moore Lane
Healdsburg, CA 95448
$19.50 + $3.50 (1999)

If confession is good for one’s soul, then I must come forward and confess: I am an unabashed bibliophile! Yup! My library/bedroom is piled from floor to ceiling with books, catalogs, brochures, broadsides... anything at all connected (even remotely) with instrument making, music theory, cooking, philosophy, woodworking, boat building, toolmaking, and on and on. These are read and reread; each time they yield small portions of knowledge, personal insight, and genuine enjoyment.

While I’m on the subject of genuine enjoyment, let me tell you about The Luthier’s Mercantile Catalog for Stringed Instrument Makers. Here is either a book that wants to be a catalog, or a catalog that wants to be a book. The staff at TLM deserve a loud bravo! for their combined efforts at getting this catalog together in a thoroughly enjoyable and readable format.

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Review: The Technique of Violin Making by H.S. Wake

Review: The Technique of Violin Making by H.S. Wake

Reviewed by Frederick Battershell

Originally published in American Lutherie #3, 1985 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume One, 2000



The Technique of Violin Making
H.S. Wake
published by H. S. Wake, 1973
$23 from Stewart-MacDonald (1999)

The good news about privately-published books is they make hitherto obscure information available to the public. The bad news is these privately-published books are seldom reviewed, and as a result of this lack of constructive criticism, are apt to be poorly written. The author may be more intent on presenting his point of view than with enabling his readers to understand what he is trying to say. The Technique of Violin Making has some of these faults.

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This article is part of our premium web content offered to Guild members. To view this and other web articles, join the Guild of American Luthiers. Members also receive 4 annual issues of American Lutherie and get discounts on products. For details, visit the membership page.

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Review: The Strad Facsimile — An Illustrated Guide to Violin Making by Edwin John Ward

Review: The Strad Facsimile — An Illustrated Guide to Violin Making by Edwin John Ward

Reviewed by Frederick Battershell

Originally published in American Lutherie #2, 1985 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume One, 2001



The Strad Facsimile — An Illustrated Guide to Violin Making
Edwin John Ward
S.E. Ward, Kaneohe, Hawaii, 1984
Out of print (1999)

Reviewing any book can be a formidable task. Reviewing a book about violin construction can be downright hazardous! Consider for a moment the possible dangers: irreversible brain damage from attempting to understand the logic of the author; hearing loss from attempts by the reviewer at duplicating the electronic plate-tuning tricks so beloved of some contemporary makers; and last, but certainly not least, near blindness from trying to read the incredibly small type of some of these books. Fortunately, the work of a book reviewer isn’t always this bad. Every now and then, a book is written that appears to be a serious attempt at communicating basic knowledge about a subject to its reader. The Strad Facsimile — An Illustrated Guide To Violin Making by Edwin John Ward is just such a book.

The Strad Facsimile is a straightforward, but somewhat concise attempt at describing exactly how Edwin John Ward goes about constructing a Strad pattern violin. This book does have some limitations. It assumes the reader has a good grasp of basic hand-woodworking skills. It does not provide the reader with any information on comparative methods of violin making. The reader is left to do his/her own research into the alternative schools of violin-making technique.

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This article is part of our premium web content offered to Guild members. To view this and other web articles, join the Guild of American Luthiers. Members also receive 4 annual issues of American Lutherie and get discounts on products. For details, visit the membership page.

If you are already a member, login for access or contact us to setup your account.