American Lutherie #125 cover shows James Condino at the 2011 GAL Convention demonstrating his technique of applying a water-based sunburst to one of his fine mandolins.

American Lutherie #125
Spring 2016


This issue’s cover shows James Condino at the 2011 GAL Convention demonstrating his technique of applying a water-based sunburst to one of his fine mandolins.

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Jay Lichty installing a extended soundport Contemporary Ukulele Making: Extended Soundport
from his 2014 GAL Convention workshop by Jay Lichty
Jay Lichty makes these cool little side soundports with fiber sleeves in them for his ukuleles. They have a nice finished look to them and are relatively easy to do. Jay demonstrated the entire process live at the 2014 GAL Convention, and we cover it here in detail.

Tom Bills in his shop Meet the Maker: Tom Bills by David Goen
Tom Bills’ story reads like a movie script idea. It starts with a 16-year-old kid who had never heard a guitar and turns him into a successful guitar maker and lutherie teacher. Along the way there are revelations, disasters, mentors, and miracles. Featuring Boaz Elkyam in the role of Gandalf.

Young's modulus. Stiffness versus density of softwoods and hardwoods Wood Stiffness:
An Analysis of a Substantial Sample of Woods of Interest to Guitar Makers

by Jim Blilie with Alan Carruth
So you tap on the wood when you buy it. You flex it when you select it for an instrument. You scratch it and knock it as you build. And the instrument turns out pretty good. When you build the next one, will you remember what you did? Blilie and Carruth try to make the whole process a bit more quantifiable by looking at the stiffness and density of individual wood samples.

Federico Sheppard holding a electric drill Secrets of Santos by Federico Sheppard
Santos Hernandez, universally considered one of the greatest of the 20th-century Spanish guitar makers, had a reputation for secrecy. Our intrepid globe-trotting reporter Federico Sheppard travels to Madrid to find the truth. To what lengths will Federico go to get the scoop? This photo should give you a clue!

Guitar sides on a workboard with neck and end block being attached Traces of Santos by Federico Sheppard and R.E. Bruné
On his quest for the secrets of Santos, Federico visits a permanent exhibit of Santos’ original tools and forms at El Centro de la Vihuela de Mano y la Guitarra Española “Jose Luis Romanillos” in the Medieval city of Siguenza.

1934 Santos Hernandez flamenco guitar plan by R.E. Brune GAL Instrument Plan #73: 1934 Santos Hernández Flamenco Guitar
by R.E. Bruné
And speaking of Santos, here’s a detailed plan of a nice Santos flamenco guitar in the personal collection of R.E. Brune. Study it for yourself. Find the secrets of Santos!

Doc and Florisel standing in front of the current shop. Meet the Maker: Patrick “Doc” Huff by January Williams
Meet “Doc” Huff, a self-reliant man, independent thinker, and joyful inventor. “Doc” has traveled the world as a disaster-relief medic,and is now homesteading in the coastal mountains of Oregon. He makes highly original and unusual frailing banjos using a dizzying selection of gorgeous woods. He built his shop and house, and uses a chainsaw mill to make lumber from logs felled on his property.

James Condino demonstrating how to hand rub a sunburst finish The Hand-Rubbed Sunburst
from his 2011 GAL Convention workshop by James Condino
James Condino likes to do sunbursts on archtop mandolins the way they did it back in the 1920s: rubbing water stains directly on the bare wood. He says you need to be well prepared, and then be ready to roll with it if the wood has a whole different idea. He’s getting beautiful results.

Mark French made some modifications to the nut of a Squier Stratocaster. A Simple Modification to Reduce Frequency Errors in Guitars
by Mark French
Put your money where your math is! The calculator says to move the first two frets back a little, and push the nut forward a lot. So try it! (I’m not gonna try it. You try it!) I know; let’s get Professor Mark French! He and his college students will try anything!

Questions edited by R.M. Mottola
Is that gorgeous flamed paneling in Asian hotels really wood? Will a nicely sawn 4-piece guitar top sound as good as a 2-piece top? How should I change the bracing when adapting a 6-string guitar plan to make a 12-string? Where can I get that nice brown tape in quantity?

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