American Lutherie #99 cover shows John Doan playing a 20-string harp guitar
American Lutherie #99
Fall 2009

This issue’s cover shows a 20-string harp guitar being played by John Doan.

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Ukulele made from wood from RMS Olympic Letters to the Editor Thomas Johnson
Thomas Johnson writes to say that they are making ukuleles out of the original trim wood of the Titanic's sister ship Olympic. Unexpected news.

Dave Freeman gives a lecture about scale length, neck width, neck shape and action height Building for Playability by David Freeman from his
2008 GAL Convention lecture

Long-time lutherie teacher David Freeman talks us through the fine points of scale length, neck width, neck shape, and action height. Players need to know they like a guitar as soon as they grab it, and this is how it's done.

Jeff Huss checks the gap during final neck setup Understanding Neck Rake by John Calkin
The exact angle of the neck relative to the top of a flattop guitar is crucially important to its playability, feel, and sound. Calkin shows how they get it right at Huss & Dalton.

David Cohen Meet the Maker: David Cohen by Roger Alan Skipper
Dave Cohen first met Michael Kasha as a graduate science student, not as a luthier. He then spent many years as a chemistry professor, and is now well into a career as a respected mandolin maker.

Dana Bourgeois talks about optimizing steel string soundboards

Dana Hears, Voices: Optimizing Steel String Soundboard Response by Dana Bourgeois from his 2008 GAL Convention lecture
Dana's job is making the final adjustments to thousands of fine guitars to bring out the best sound that he can. Here he tells how he thinks about the complex process.


Jeffrey Elliott and John Sullivan collaborate on a modern 20-string concert harp guitar Developing the Modern 20-String Concert Harp Guitar
by Jeffrey R. Elliott
In 1986 Jeffrey Elliott collaborated with the late John Sullivan on the design of a new harp guitar that Sullivan then built for John Doan. Since then Doan has toured and recorded relentlessly and the harp guitar has established its renaissance. Here's the detailed scoop on the guitar that inspired a generation. (Article includes a reduced image of GAL Instrument Plan #61)

David Minniweather's 8-string  bass Electric Bass Design Considerations by Veronica Merryfield,
David Minnieweather and Harry Fleishman, moderator and organizer, from their 2008 GAL Convention panel discussion

An entertaining and informative discussion of the many forms and functions of the electric bass, including both upright and guitar-like versions.

Rings routed in a dished workboard Make a Dished Workboard, Freehand by Ryan Schultz
So, to make a dished workboard from a solid MDF sheet you need a router dangling from a thirty-foot-long pole, or else a CNC machine. Right? Nope, just grab a router and rip into it, freehand. With a little calculation and pencil marking, it can work.

John Calkin Meet the Maker: John Calkin by Lamar Scomp
Calkin walked a crooked road to lutherie, being a construction worker, a hippie, a gunsmith, a guitar repairman, and a school teacher before settling in at Huss & Dalton. It's a fascinating story well told.

Making guitar cutaways Parametric Models of Guitar Cutaways by R.M. Mottola
Here's the companion piece to Mottola's article on guitar outlines. Even if you don't use CNC, this gives you straightforward tools to plan and draw cutaways.

Controls for an acoustic guitar transducer fitted out the soundport It Worked for Me by Luis Mesquita
Poke the controls for an acoustic guitar's transducer out the soundport. great idea! The article also shows his slick adjustable archtop bridge that uses opposing wedges driven by thumbwheels.

Dennis Stevens memoriam In Memoriam: Dennis Stevens by Harry Fleishman
Harry praises his good friend and mentor. Read his memoriam.

Rod Girdis memoriam In Memoriam: Rob Girdis by Rick Davis
Rick mourns the passing of a well-liked and capable luthier and teacher. Read his memoriam.

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