Liutaio Mottola Stringed Instrument Design



Woodworkers' Popup Units Conversion Tool / Calculator


Calculator converts to/from decimal inches, fractional inches, millimeters. Popups must be enabled for this site. From the Liutaio Mottola lutherie information website.



Did you know ....


.... you can click on most of the assembly photos on this site to enlarge them for a close look? Also, hovering the cursor over most linear dimension values will convert the values to decimal inches, fractional inches, and SI units.

Construction Techniques

On one hand lutherie is just like any other area of woodworking. But there are a number of techniques that are very specific to lutherie. Some of those are outlined here. This section does not offer complete instructions for building any one stringed instrument, but does offer detailed instructions for performing a number of typical lutherie tasks.

Last updated: August 15, 2015

For Bowed Instruments

Carving a Scroll and Pegbox

Violin family instruments use traditional pegboxes with scrolls. Here are step by step instructions for how to carve one. The example is of a scroll and pegbox for an Electric Upright Bass but the technique is the same for all instruments. Note: there are approximately 1 MB of pictures here so it may take some time to fully load this page over a dialup connection.

Installing Bass Bridge Adjuster Wheels

Step by step instructions for installing aluminum action adjuster wheels in the legs of a double bass.

For Plucked Instruments

Contour Maps of Domes

The plates of modern so called flattop guitars are really domed and that means the depth of the sides of the instruments vary along their length. One method that can be used to calculate the depth of a guitar side at any point along its length makes use of a contour map. Contour maps for the standard guitar plate dome radii are available for download here, and some references to articles describing how these are used are also provided.

Building the Neck Blank for the Steel String Acoustic Guitar

Step by step instructions for building the neck blank for a steel string acoustic guitar, using a scarfed neck joint and built up heel. This is the first major step in the production of a neck.

Planing stock to thickness.

Carving the Neck for the Steel String Acoustic Guitar

Step by step instructions for carving the neck. Also includes instructions for copying the neck profile from an existing instrument or designing your own profile, and for those that don't want to do either a general purpose neck profile is given.

Bolt-on Neck Joint for Acoustic Instruments

Step by step instructions for implementing the simple and effective butted bolt-on neck joint, as used in Taylor, Seagull, and other guitars.

Installing Frets

Step by step instructions for installing frets in new fretted stringed musical instruments.

Dressing Frets

Step by step instructions for dressing frets. Dressing operations include cleaning up the fingerboard surface, leveling the frets, fret recrowning, fret end dressing, and sanding and polishing the frets.

Building the Rib Assembly

Step by step instructions for building the garland; the ribs, blocks and linings of a stringed instrument. The techniques outlined here are specifically for flat top guitars, but can be simplified for use with other instruments. Side bending is discussed in detail, as is shaping sides to fit instruments that feature a tapered body and domed plates.

Building the Top Plate of the Flattop Guitar

Step by step instructions for building the top plate of the flat top guitar. The photos show the construction of a classical guitar top but most everything here is applicable to the steel string guitar, too.

The Tiled Rosette of the Flattop Guitar

Step by step instructions for making the tiled rosette, sans making the actual tiles.

Binding the Soundhole of the Flattop Guitar

Step by step instructions for installing wood binding in a round sound hole.

Building the Back Plate of the Flattop Guitar

Step by step instructions for building the back plate of the flat top guitar.

Closing the Box

Step by step instructions for attaching the completed top and back plates to the completed rib, lining and block assembly.

Construction of the Tapered End Graft

Step by step instructions for constructing and installing a tapered end graft.

Binding the Guitar Body

Step by step instructions for making and fitting wood bindings and purflings to the body.

Attaching the Steel String Guitar Bridge

How to locate and glue on the bridge of a flattop steel string acoustic guitar.

For All Instruments

Guitar Finishing Using Wiping Varnish

Finishing a musical instrument with thinned varnish wiped on with a rag is probably the simplest way to go. Wiping varnish is not just for beginners. In fact most of what are commonly called “oil” finishes are really wiping varnish finishes. Detailed instructions for selecting, applying, and caring for wiped varnish finishes are included. I had the honor of collaborating with master electric bass builder Jack Read on this one.