American Lutherie #128
Winter 2016

This issue’s cover shows a statuette of St. Pancras in the shop of Gabriel Fleta, a third-generation maker of classical guitars in Barcelona, Spain. That’s a coin that the saint is holding, not a cigar. Maybe you looked at the photo and said, “Hey, St. Pancras is smoking a stogie!” Close, but no cigar.

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Letters from our readers
You know those new-fangled bevels that make fancy hand-made steel-string guitars more comfy to play? Ever wonder what it would be like to have a guitar that was beveled all the way around the body? American lutherie-boom pioneer Carl Samuels has already done it.

Considerations in Replicating Vintage Guitars
from his 2014 GAL Convention lecture by Alan Perlman
Perlman runs though a restoration job on a Torres guitar, replacing a side and copying fancy purflings. Then he builds a replica of a Stahl Style 6 flattop. So when you are copying a century-old American guitar, how far do you go in the name of authenticity? Do you match the faded tones of the purfling, or use the nice bright colors that the Larson Brothers liked? Do you let the glue blobs roam free like they did, or get all tidy like a nervous modern maker?

Meet the Maker: Jeff Manthos by Pat Megowan
People come to lutherie on many different paths. Some of us were nerdy model-making kids, or spoiled lefty college dropouts. Or maybe the garage band was our gateway into the opium den of guitar making. On the other hand, Jeff Manthos was a helicopter aircrewman and rescue swimmer in the Vietnam era. Then, unexpectedly, he went to the Violinmaking School of America in Salt Lake City. He has made a career of it, first in other shops and now on his own.

CNC in Small-Shop Mandolin Making
from his 2014 GAL Convention workshop by Andrew Mowry
Andrew Mowry was a one-man mandolin-making shop known for precise high-quality work. When he made the jump and brought a small but capable CNC mill into the mix, he was not trying to flood the market, but rather to further improve his work. All the tools and methods he shows here are well within reach; you don’t need to be a factory to afford it, and it won't turn you into a factory if you try it. Mowry still runs a one-man shop known for precise high-quality work.

Meet the Maker: Gabriel Fleta by Cyndy Burton with Jeff Elliott
His grandfather Ignacio Fleta was a violin maker who started making guitars after repairing instruments by Torres, and his father Gabriel Sr. made guitars for decades as one of the legendary “hijos” of Ignacio who made guitars for Segovia, John Williams, and many others. Gabriel Fleta Jr. has been making guitars since the 1970s and has now inherited the family business. We visit his shop in Barcelona.

A Large New Set of Stiffness Data for Lutherie Woods and
a Proposed Standard Test Method
by James Blilie
We all have ideas about the stiffness of brace wood, probably based on a combination of intuition, hearsay, and informal flexing. Blilie aims to accumulate more quantitave data. Here he reports on his latest tests. He also describes his methodology and the reasoning behind it.

In Memoriam: Jim Forderer by James Westbrook and John Doan
Guild members knew Jim Forderer as the guy who brought an RV full of important antique guitars to the GAL Conventions and let us play them. Disabilities advocates and Neil Young fans knew him as the co-founder of The Bridge School. Sometimes the angels don’t look like angels. Maybe all the time.

It Worked for Me by Terence Warbey, Sjaak Elmendorp, Harry Fleishman,
and C.F. Casey

Glue temporary tabs onto your guitar plates to align them during construction. Add a straightedge to your shooting board setup. Turn a rat-tail comb into a string wrangler. Make an adjustably-magnetic screwdriver. Find fretboard dot positions quickly and easily.

Reviews: McDonald’s The Mandolin — A History reviewed by
G.D. Armstrong
and O’Brien’s Fret Work reviewed by John Calkin

Graham McDonald has written books about mandolin-family instrument construction as well as speaking at GAL Conventions and writing for AL. Now he has written a book about mandolin history, and long-time GAL member GD Armstrong likes it. John Calkin gives a good review to a recent addition to Robbie O’Brien’s large and deep online lutherie instruction catalog. This one focuses on Kent Carlos Everett’s fret work techniques.

Questions edited by R.M. Mottola
What can you tell me about this old French guitar? And what’s the best way to get better at lutherie?

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