American Lutherie #132
Winter 2017


This issue’s cover shows the peg head of Michael Bashkin’s Great Wave guitar. Inlay by Jimmi Wingert.


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Letters from our readers
The Guild has always taken the attitude that all lutherie info is good for all luthiers. Here’s a case in point. A Guild member has specialized in electric guitars and in Baroque instruments at different points in his career. He unites those ideas in an electric bass with relief carving based on rosette designs from our landmark book Historical Lute Construction by Robert Lundberg.

Meet the Maker: Michael Bashkin by Brian Yarosh
Michael Bashkin came to lutherie after earlier passions and careers in photography and tropical forestry. But for decades now he has been happily Geppettoing it, building beautiful steel string guitars in a cavernous industrial space. Watch for upcoming American Lutherie articles based on his two informative presentations at the recent GAL Convention.

Classical Guitar Setup by Kevin Aram
Kevin Aram has long been one of the very top classical guitar makers in the United Kingdom. Here he takes us through his process of setting the action on a classical guitar and making sure the frets are shipshape and Bristol fashion.


A Field Guide to Mandolins by Graham McDonald
Mandolins have come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and styles in over 350 years of history. And while you are not likely to stumble upon the kind of mandolin that Vivaldi wrote for, you may find yourself looking at a century-old American factory-made cutie like this Smurf-head Regal, resplendent in muliple pearloids. This article gives you a quick introduction to the rich diversity in the great Family of Man(dolin).

Let's Catch Up with Graham Caldersmith by Juan Oscar Azaret
Graham Caldersmith’s articles in GAL publications go back a full thirty-five years, earlier than American Lutherie magazine itself. He’s located in a tiny town in the hinterlands of New South Wales, Australia. He uses his scientific training to develop innovative classical guitars, and has long been a leader in the effort to develop a family of guitars of different sizes and musical ranges. Our globetrotting reporter asks about his latest thoughts and methods, which include carbon-reinforced lattice bracing.

The “Mysteries” of Panormo by R.M. Mottola
Louis Panormo was a popular and influential instrument maker in mid-19th-century London. Some of the features of his guitars and the methods he must have used to produce them can be puzzling to 21st-century luthiers raised on the ideas and standards which have come down to us from Antonio Torres and his disciples. Author Mottola builds a Panormo replica and takes the opportunity to speculate on the master’s motivations.

An Inexpensive Resophonic Guitar by Lee Herron
Take a break from building that replica Joachim Tielke Baroque guitar and step up to this lutherie challenge. Build a fully-functional Dobro from a sheet of 3/4” construction plywood, a few parts from the plumbing department, and various stuff from the thrift store. OK, you can also have a fretboard, a real set of tuners, and a set of strings. But when it comes to finding a resonator cone, you’ll have to punt. Or Bundt.

A Better Approximation to the Rule of 18 by Mark French
We think the old boys found the 1st fret position by dividing the string length by 18. Then they divided that by 18 to get the 2nd fret. Sounds like a job for that nerdy apprentice kid. But 18 is just an approximation of the “right” number; that is, the 12th fret won’t be right in the middle of the string. If you want to do it by hand, here’s some thoughts and numbers about what would be a better approximation, and how much better it would be.

It Worked for Me by James Bliley and Doug Berch
A plywood jig bolted to a belt sander can quickly and accurately sand the radius into a fretboard. A scrap of kerfed lining with a bit of sticky sandpaper can quickly and accurately clean up a binding ledge. And if it is quick and accurate, we like it.

Questions edited by R.M. Mottola
What’s the deal with those little guitar-like instruments they play in the Veracruz region of Mexico? I have some old unlabeld hide glue; how can I tell if it is any good? Is Alaska yellow cedar more available than it used to be? How do you get the cleanest routed rosette channels? Do I need to de-grease unbleached bone? What oil should I use on a fretboard?

Product Reviews by Cat Fox
Experienced giutar repairer Cat Fox give a big thumbs-up to Glooboost products for drop fills on lacquer. Well, her thumbs are not that big. Just regular.

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