Cover of American Lutherie #123 shows Nick Kukich shapes the neck of a Franklin guitar.

American Lutherie #123
Fall 2015

This issue’s cover we see a ukulele top being glitter-tested in the shop of Craig Sullivan.
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Old photo of Charles Rufino and Jimmy D'Aquisto Authenticity, Originality, and Unleashing a Personal Style in
Violin Making
from his 2014 GAL Convention lecture by Charles Rufino
Charles Rufino has had a distinguished career as a hand-builder of violins, beginning with traditional school, apprenticeship, and mentoring. In this photo he shares a fiddle and a box of strawberries with his informal mentor, Jimmy D’Aquisto in the mid ’80s. He talks about the many opportunities for self expression when making an instrument as highly standardized as the violin.

Inside of 1875 Antonio de Torres guitar Restoration of a Guitar by Antonio de Torres, 1875
by D. and F. Sinier de Ridder
Any guitar, or even part of a guitar, from the hand of Torres is a treasured icon in our day. So it is really shocking to see the ham-fisted and wrong-headed treatment that this instrument has endured. The French husband-and-wife team of restorers takes on the challenge of making it playable again and shows us the process step-by-step.

Old photo of Jean Larrivee All from the Same Litter Jean Larrivée and his Apprentices
by Steve Denvir with Sergei de Jonge, Grit Laskin, Linda Manzer,
and David Wren

An awful lot of water has passed over the metaphorical dam since young Jean Larrivee and his rag-tag band of helpers were struggling to make guitars in Toronto in the early ’70s. Today Larrivee has factories and British Columbia and California, and many of those long-ago helpers are old masters in their own right. Here they talk about the old days, their beloved mentor, and the solidarity that they still have with each other.

Top bracing of Jean Larrivee guitar Thoughts on Larrivée’s Symmetrical Bracing by Grit Laskin
William “Grit” Laskin worked with Jean Larrivee from the very beginning of his steel-string period, and has continued to use the distinctive Larrivee bracing pattern in his own work. He tells us about how and why it works.

Bending a two-piece arched top or back Plate Bending for Bowed and Plucked Instruments by Nupi Jenner
Here’s a technique for making a two-piece arched top or back from relatively thin pieces of wood by prebending the halves. For instance, Nupi and company make a violin plate starting with wood only about 3/16” thick. They like the voice, visual beauty, and efficiency of the method.

Modern Ukulele A Modern Uke Family
Thoughts About Small, Smaller, Smallest
by Craig Sullivan
Sullivan’s ukes are not entirely traditional; they feature fan bracing, laminated blocks, and optional X-bracing for the backs. He shows us some of his methods and presents plans for an entire uke family.

GAL Instrument Plan #71: A Modern Ukulele Family Plan GAL Instrument Plan #71: A Modern Ukulele Family by Craig Sullivan
The companion plan to Craig’s article is a set of full scale detailed drawings of each of the four family members: soprano, 12-fret concert, 14-fret concert, and tenor. It’s our first four-page plan. The one page preview that appears in this issue is of the soprano.

Ken Altman Meet the Maker: Ken Altman by January Williams
Like many of us, the teen-aged Ken Altman played rock music in a garage and tried to make a guitar. He went on to make a few successful instruments, including a respectable fiddle, and worked in a violin shop for a few years. Then, after a career as a maker of fine furniture and jewelry boxes, he found his calling as a bowmaker. He shows us some of his interesting techniques and shop-made tools.

Octave Guitar The Octave Guitar by Peter Rosenbladt
Peter Rosenbladt didn’t know what an octave guitar was when he got a commission to build one. After some research, design work, and jig-making, he built a successful instrument. He shares with us what he learned.

Herringbone trim and shell purfling Herringbone Trim and Shell Purfling by John Calkin
Calkin has purfled and bound a lot of steel string guitars, both in his own shop and in his day job at Huss&Dalton. Here he shows us his current techniques to do a quick, clean, tight job with the traditional fancy trims.

Circle cutting jig A New Concept in Circle Cutting Jigs by Greg Nelson
Controlling the distance between the pin and the bit is the whole game when cutting circles with a router. Here’s a new way to do it that offers very fine control and no threads. Elegant!

Review of O'Brien's Online Acoustic Guitar building Course Review: O’Brien Online Acoustic Guitar Building Course by John Calkin
There’s a big new cyber-world out there, and it’s got a lot of good lutherie how-to info waiting patiently for us in its sun-dappled meadows. Calkin is a fan of video instruction, going back to the VHS days. He’s been delving into Robbie O’Brien’s vast catalog of on-line material, and gives us a report.

Using ear plugs to plug peg  holes It Worked for Me by Tip House, Mark Frazier, and Peter Yelda
Ear plugs are just he right size and squish to plug peg holes before using epoxy filler. An old plane blade makes a great utility knife/scraper. A scrap of foam insulation can help you make nice clean pre-bent purflings

Questions edited by R.M. Mottola
How high should I set the action on a uke? Is “chocolaty” tone an example of synesthesia? What’s the best way to glue oily woods like cocobolo? When did tuning gears change from worm-under to worm-over, and why?

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