Cover of American Lutherie #101
American Lutherie #101
Spring 2010

This issue's cover shows the artsy cast-aluminum string anchor on Ben Patron's “chicken-ranch-roof” reconfigured guitar. This metal-bodied archtop acoustic also features a one-piece stainless steel fingerboard with die-pressed frets.
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Archtop soundboard pinned down with pegs

Low-Stress Archtop Guitar Design
from his 2008 GAL Convention workshop by Steve Grimes

Steve Grimes has been experimenting with making lighter-built soundboards for archtop guitars and decreasing the breakover angle. He likes the sound he's getting. He shows us in some detail how he does it.


Several instruments made by Ben Patron

Meet The Maker: Ben Patron by Roger Alan Skipper
Ben Patron has lots of great lutherie ideas, and he's not afraid to try them. He makes very useful guitars out of gold pans, chicken ranch roofs, and sheets of stainless steel. He also makes reproductions of guitars by D'Angelico, Torres, and Panormo.


Restored bridge of a baroque guitar

Restoration of a Michelot Late Baroque Guitar
by D. and F. Sinier de Ridder
There was a time in the 19th century when Baroque guitars were not treasured antiques, they were just old-fashioned. Here's one that got chopped into a “Spanish” guitar back then. Now it has been restored back to its original configuration by a Parisian lutherie team.


Fan Tao and David Dolak have a discussion after Fan's lecture

Strings: The (Often) Forgotten Accessory
by Fan Tao
from his 2008 GAL Convention lecture
D'Addario's resident physicist shows us some of the numbers that underpin the design of strings. Only a little simple math. Honest.


Ted Megas's quilted maple archtop guitar

Meet the Maker: Ted Megas by Jonathon Peterson
Ted Megas makes gorgeous archtops, but lutherie wasn't his first career choice. Read in this issue about how he came to be a guitar maker. He also has a hankering for machines. Big ones. Cast iron by the ton.


Pearl blanks are put on a sled and run through a thickness sander

Making Mother-of-Pearl Nuts by Ted Megas
A pearl nut is a classy appointment and a well-accepted aesthetic choice for archtop guitars. Ted quickly runs us through his process for making them from shells.


Dulcimer soundboard by Roger Alan Skipper

The Two-Storey Dulcimer by Roger Alan Skipper
This fancy dulcimer has an internal spruce back. The idea is to fully involve the back in sound production rather than having it damped by the player's legs. Did it work? Read all about it in this issue.


Not Only Cones Make It — and Cylinders Almost Do by F.A. Jaén
Seems resonable that the strings of a guitar, not being parallel, could not properly lie on a fretboard that describes a cylinder, doesn't it? But run the numbers. We are in for a surprise. Looks like Fender wasn't that far wrong after all.


Threaded inserts

Testing Threaded Inserts by R.M. Mottola
Lots of folks use threaded inserts to bolt necks onto flattop guitars these days. But should you use the inserts that are advertized “for wood”, or those “for metal”? We could discuss how many angels could dance on the nut of a truss rod, or we could just yank some inserts out of a piece of mahogany. The author does the latter, concluding that the inserts “for metal” are more effective for our application.


View of the back side of the Travel Lute

Travel Lute by Ben Cohen
Lutes don't travel well, with their fragile construction and long pegheads. Here's an easy-to-build practice lute that you can put in a padded bag and toss in the overhead.


Thicknessing router jig with magnetic holdowns

Thicknessing Router Jig with Magnet Holdowns by John Park
Here's a compact and inexpensive alternative to an abrasive planer. The thing that makes work so well is the use of high-powered magnetic balls to hold the work down to the platten.


Tap testing a completed plate

Reducing Build Variation in Arched Plates
by Mark French and Eddy Efendy

Imagine a CNC router carving an archtop guitar soundboard in an industrial situation. Quality control would check to confirm that parts are the same thickness. But really, we would like the tops made from stiffer material to be cut thinner. Here's an idea for making that all happen automatically without any measurement or analysis needed.


Lutherie Curmudgeon by John Calkin
The Lutherie Curmudgeon. He's been there, done that. Life has made him wise but grumpy. He's here to give you good advice about the mean streets of lutherie. Watch your back, kid.


Block plane with an extension

It Worked for Me by Ted Megas, Harry Fleishman, Mark Roberts, and Lennis Lavioletté
Make a longer plane by replacing the front sole of a block plane. Keep strings tidy while working on bridges. Cheap improvements for bench vises. Easily string up a half-done guitar to confirm bridge intonation.


Reviews
Author and vintage guitar expert Walter Carter likes novelist Jonathan Kellerman's book about his wonderful personal guitar collection. John Calkin likes the tough-love advise in Kent Everett's new booklet on making a living in lutherie.


Questions edited by R.M. Mottola
Questions and answers about water soaked logs, spraying lacquer in a basement, Brune's Hauser plan, liquid hide glue, string tension for 19th-century guitars, universal fret scales, and music wire.


Taku Sakashta memoriam

In Memoriam: Taku Sakashta by Tom Ribbecke
Tom Ribbecke mourns his friend and respected collegue Taku Sakashta. Read his memoriam.


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