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The Trio Romantico and the Requinto

The Trio Romántico and the Requinto

by C.F. Casey

previously published in American Lutherie #89, 2007



Picture it: You’re sitting in an open-air courtyard, perhaps in Guadalajara, perhaps in San Juan, perhaps in Buenos Aires. Your surroundings are lit only by the candles on the tables and the stars above. The air is like a caress on your skin. Across from you sits someone you care about very much.

Nearby, in the semi-darkness, a small group wanders from table to table. You hear voices in close harmony, singing in Spanish, singing of love. Two guitars throb in the rhythm of a bolero or a tango. And above, between, and around the words, a third guitar pours out cascades and arabesques of clear, shimmering notes.

As the song ends and the group moves on, you gaze through the candle light, deep into the eyes of your companion, and say:

“I’d love to get a closer look at that lead guitar; it’s got a really unique sound. Maybe I could get my inspection mirror inside it and get a look at the bracing.”

We can’t help it: we’re luthiers.

You were listening to the sound of a trio romántico, and the lead instrument was a requinto, a smaller version of the regular nylon-string guitar, tuned a perfect fourth higher (ADGCEA).

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Review: Folk Harp Design and Construction by Jeremy H. Brown

Review: Folk Harp Design and Construction by Jeremy H. Brown

Reviewed by C.F. Casey

Originally published in American Lutherie #83, 2005 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Seven, 2015



Folk Harp Design and Construction
Jeremy H. Brown
www.musikit.com 150 pp.

You’ve got to like a book that begins, “Anybody can spout off his own opinions into a book if he puts his mind to it. Why a person would want to go to such trouble is a question I’ve been asking myself lately.”

I should point out that there’s an alias at work here. Jeremy H. Brown, author, is in another life Jerry Brown, founder and head honcho of Musicmaker’s Kits, Inc. (See John Calkin’s “Kit Review: Musicmaker’s Regency Harp” in AL#69, BRBAL6.) Does that mean the book is a shill for selling kits? Not at all. Naturally, most of the references are to Musicmaker’s designs. That’s reasonable enough; they are, after all, the designs Brown would be most familiar with. You wouldn’t expect Chris Martin to write a book on Gibson designs. However, Brown doesn’t stop there. I counted over two dozen references to the approaches and opinions of other harp builders throughout the eight chapters of the book.

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Review: El Tiple Puertorrqueño: Historia, Manual y Método by José Reyes-Zamora

Review: El Tiple Puertorrqueño: Historia, Manual y Método by José Reyes-Zamora

Reviewed by Fred Casey

Originally published in American Lutherie #81, 2005 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Seven, 2015



El Tiple Puertorriqueño: Historia, Manual y Método
José Reyes-Zamora
ISBN: 0-942347-55-2
Ediciones Puerto, Inc., 211pp., 2002
www.edicionespuerto.com

The tiple. Oh, yeah, that’s that South American instrument, like a guitar but triple-strung. I remember repairing one that had a soundbox made from an armadillo shell, like a charango. Then there was the adaptation that Martin came up with, putting tiple-type stringing onto a ukulele (see article and plan by Jorge Gonzalez in AL #39, BRBAL4). And one time I came across an old bowl-back mandolin that had twelve strings, arranged tiple-fashion. Yeah... the tiple.

Forget all that.

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Review: Making Stringed Instruments — A Workshop Guide by George Buchanan

Review: Making Stringed Instruments — A Workshop Guide by George Buchanan

Reviewed by C.F. Casey

Originally published in American Lutherie #26, 1991 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Three, 2004



Making Stringed Instruments — A Workshop Guide
George Buchanan
Sterling Publishing Co., 205 pp.
ISBN 0-8069-7464-8

You don’t have to look at the publishing information to know this is a British book. You don’t even have to depend on the usual vocabulary clues. In fact, they’re not even all here. The book uses “clamps” rather than the dead-giveaway “cramps,” although it does refer to “timber” rather than “lumber.” It’s the style, that unmistakable tone typical of English do-it-yourself books: not exactly formal, not exactly old-fashioned (in fact, the book was first published in 1989), but just subtly different in flavor from its North American counterparts.

It’s more than just diction and syntax that make this book different, it’s the approach to the material. As the title suggests, the book is about a variety of instruments: violin, viola, and cello; mandolin and mandola; and classical and archtop guitars. However, rather than treating each instrument more or less independently, as most books of this type seem to do, Buchanan spends fully half the book dealing with the violin and viola, and then adds comparatively short chapters covering those aspects of the other instruments which are different from the violin. He does spend somewhat more time on the mandolin and mandola, as the first flat-top-and-back instruments in the book.

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Review: The Modern Classical Guitar For Friend or Builder by Donald M. Sprenger

Review: The Modern Classical Guitar For Friend or Builder by Donald M. Sprenger

Reviewed by C.F. Casey

Originally published in American Lutherie #27, 1991 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Three, 2004



The Modern Classical Guitar For Friend or Builder
Donald M. Sprenger
Taylor Publishing Co., 121 pp.
ISBN 0-9617445-0-2

First, let it be said that I have very little knowledge about the Kasha system of guitar design. So when I saw this book advertised as using this system, I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn something.

On leafing through the book, the first thing that struck me was that the drawings were rather crudely done. Let me rephrase that: very crudely done. Now, I’m no whiz at draftsmanship myself; but it seems to me that if you’re going to the trouble of writing and publishing a book, it would be nice to go that little bit further and either do decent drawings or get someone to do them for you. But then I thought, “Maybe the man is a master luthier who just can’t be bothered with such petty details; maybe the text will make up for it.”

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