AL 127 cover shows a classical guitar soundboard by Jeffrey R. Elliott

American Lutherie #127
Fall 2016


This issue’s cover shows two views of a classical guitar soundboard with Jeffrey R. Elliott’s open harmonic bar bracing. Braces pass through openings in the top’s transverse braces, and over thin wooden pads glued directly to the top. Elliott discusses the rationale for this bracing scheme in this issue, and we present a detailed plan.

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Traditional Lutherie Techniques for Violin and Guitar Making
from their 2014 GAL Convention workshop
by Charles Rufino and Stephen Marchione
A guitar maker and a violin maker team up for a show-and-tell focusing on hide glue, sizing, linen reinfrocement, hand-cut dovetail joints, and getting the best out of a spruce top wedge.

Seven String Surgery by Robbie O’Brien with Antonio Tessarin
So you made a nice 6-string classical guitar for your client, and he loves it. Now he wants to play a 7-string. The guitar has a Spanish heel. What do you do? Saw off the neck and graft on a new one. Scary, but it turned out great. We see every gory step along the way.

Let’s Catch Up With: Jeffrey R. Elliott by Chris Sobel
Jeffrey R. Elliott has been a luthier for about 50 years, and a GAL member for about 40 years. He has over 50 GAL author credits to his name and has been a frequent GAL Convention presenter. The last time we interviewed him about his life and work was about 30 years ago, so there is a lot of catching up to do.

GAL Instrument Plan #74:
2016 Jeffrey R. Elliott Standard Concert Model Classical Guitar

by Jeffrey R. Elliott
In his interview, Elliott goes into some depth about the development of his classical guitar pattern. That decades-long evolution has produced his current sophisticated and successful design, which is presented here in detail. Of course we offer it as a full-scale two-sheet plan.

A Rubbed-Oil Finish Method for Classical Guitar
from his 2014 GAL Convention workshop
by Kevin Aram

Conventional Wisdom says that rubbed-oil finishes are no good for guitars. Well, once again Conventional Wisdom is wearing a dunce cap, because Kevin Aram has made about 200 world-class classical guitars over the last twenty years using a finishing process that involves nothing but Liberon oil rubbed on with a rag. No sealer, no solvent, no compressor, no filters or exhaust fans. Heck, not even a brush. But it does require excellent surface preparation. He shows us exactly how to do it.

Meet the Maker: John Knutson by Don Bradley
John Knutson personifies the pioneers of the Lutherie Boom generation; a self-taught, self-confident selfstarter who jumped right into making instruments as a young man. He showed his first mandolin at the GAL’s 1980 convention in San Francisco, and briefly met David Grisman there. Decades later he recorded a CD with Dawg, using guitars and mandolins that he built. There is more to his interesting story. Read it here.

Effects of Grain Orientation on Brace Deflection
by Greg Nelson with Benjamin Nelson

What’s stiffer: a spruce brace with vertical grain, or one with flat grain? How about diagonal grain? How would you know? Here’s an attempt to gather some data and present it in a way that makes sense. Challenge your assumptions; read this article.

Reviews:
True Faith, True Light: The Devotional Art of Ed Stilley
by John Littel
Lots of luthiers are doing nice clean, sophisticated, carefully developed work. Yes, our standards of fit and finish are high these days. But have we squeezed the soul out of it? Did we lose the spark of wonder as we chased the phantom of perfection? Nah. But you might like to check out this book about a guy who feels inspired to make some primitive and heartfelt instruments out of whatever the Universe sends him. And the Universe has a sense of humor.

It Worked for Me by Rick Rubin, Graham McDonald, and Gene Simpson
Big Ziplock bags work for vacuum pressing. Ironwood works great for bandsaw guides. Take a photo of a ruler under the strings to duplicate nut spacing.

Questions edited by R.M. Mottola
What are the rules about mentioning certain trade names in instructional videos? Where do you get cases for huge custom flattop basses? How do you make and locate pinless bridges for steel string guitars?

In Memoriam: Don Bradley
by by Deb Olsen, Chris Herrod, Al Carruth, and Fred Carlson
Ouch. It’s tough to lose an old friend like good ol’ Don Bradley. Maker of frequency generators, keeper of llamas, attender of GAL Conventions, super great guy.

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