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.

Links to Other Lutherie Resources

In the true spirit of HTML, context dependent links to resources for builders of stringed musical instruments are scattered throughout this website. This page contains some general links or links that don’t fit well anywhere else on the site. They are grouped roughly by type and are in no particular order. There aren’t a lot of links here and there probably never will be, as I don’t have either the time or the inclination to build and maintain a comprehensive site of lutherie links. Besides, it’s already been done on the Guild of American Luthiers website. What I’m trying to focus on here are links to high content sites sites that provide a lot of free lutherie information in one spot, and that contain no popups or other advertising, or require “membership” that will be used to try to sell you something. There aren’t a lot. Please let me know if I’ve missed anything and if any of these links are dead.

Folks occasionally ask for links here, and these days there are commercial businesses that will pay to have links placed in an attempt to game Google page ranking. For those interested, here is the links policy of this site. I will never put a link here for money, and I will not consider any request for a link exchange that comes from a commercial third party. This site provides links to sites that offer substantial free lutherie information and occasionally to commercial sites offering products that are directly related to a topic discussed on this site, particularly if that product is otherwise hard to find. And I occasionally have links here to things I just like. But if you want to contact me to ask for a link here, the only way I will consider it is if your site offers substantial free lutherie info, and already has a link to this site. If there is a link here to your site, congratulations. That link will help drive traffic to your site. But if you move the content linked to, leaving a dead link here, it is doubtful I will repair it and likely that I'll just delete it.

Last updated: August 15, 2015

Comprehensive Links Sites

Guild of American Luthiers

Information for beginners and a comprehensive list of resources can be found here. Plus, the GAL is the single best source of lutherie info on the planet!

A rack of clamps

Bob Gollihur's Double Bass Links Page

Bob sells upright basses and accessories, but he also has the most comprehensive info page imaginable on all things (double) bass. Check out the listings of bass luthiers and repair people, and those for instrument plans and instructions. This is a great example of a commercial site that does a lot more than just try to sell you something.

Gregg Miner, the pope of the harp guitar, maintains this great website of everything you'd ever want to know about harp guitars and related instruments.

Early Romantic Guitar Information Home Page

Len Verrett maintains this great website of information about early Romantic (late 1700s to middle 1800s) guitars. Very useful to modern luthiers doing historical research or gathering information for building bench copies of instruments from this period.

Organizations and Journals

Guild of American Luthiers

Information for beginners and a comprehensive list of resources can be found on the GAL website. The GAL and its quarterly journal American Lutherie is the single best source of lutherie info on the planet. You want to be a member of this organization.

Savart Journal

The Savart Journal is an open access online journal featuring peer reviewed research articles on all aspects of the science and technology of stringed musical instruments. Full text of all articles is available for all readers. Readers do not need to register or login to view articles. Articles are published continuously as they are received and reviewed. The journal is named after and inspired by the work of 19th century French physicist Felix Savart, an early researcher in the acoustics of stringed musical instruments. The Savart Journal is made available through the efforts of volunteer editorial and review staffs, and is published in collaboration with the Guild of American Luthiers.

New England Luthiers

There are regional luthier organizations all over the country. I live in the Boston area, and am privileged to be a member of New England Luthiers. The membership includes a diverse group of incredibly knowledgeable folks. The meetings offer a wealth of information.

Chisels and other lutherie tools

Luthiers' Websites

Dana Bourgeois

There are a number of sources for information on how to build instruments, but there are few if any that provide information on how to do it as an instrument building business. Dana's site has a wealth of info on what it takes to be able to produce instruments on a small scale commercial basis. If you intend to build instruments for a living there is no better advice than to heed what Dana has so say.

John Calkin

The home page of one of my fellow American Lutherie contributing editors. John has an overactive curiosity and has researched many aspects of lutherie during his career. One could hardly go wrong by following in John’s footsteps. The site has lots of pictures of a variety of instruments.

Sylvan Wells

The home page of luthier Sylvan Wells has an Articles section containing nice tools and techniques which should be of interest to anyone building stringed instruments. Check out his really nice guitar bolt-on neck joint.

Charles Hoffman's Step by Step Guitar Construction

Guitar builder Charles Hoffman has really nice step by step instructions showing how he builds guitars. There are a lot of very good pictures here, and the text is very clear and easy to follow.

Classical Guitar Construction

Classical guitar builder Neil Ostberg teamed up with Ross Kowalski to put together this great site on the construction of classical guitars using the building techniques of Torres. Very well done with plenty of pictures. They even show you how to build historically accurate guitar cases!

Mike Doolin's Lutherie Directory

Mike Doolin builds fantastic instruments and he is kind enough to write down and make available a substantial amount of information about lutherie, tools, and techniques. His directory of lutherie articles is kind of hidden, insofar as it is not directly available from his commercial home page, but you can get to it from the link to the left. The file names may be somewhat cryptic but take a look at them all. There is great info here.

Alexander Batov's Vihuela de Mano page

Pretty much everything you've ever wanted to know (actually, pretty much everything there is to know) about the vihuela, the predecessor to the guitar.

Girasoli archtop guitar ready to be sprayed

Acoustics and Physics of Stringed Instruments

Guitar Acoustics Site at UNSW

The physics department of the University of New South Wales puts up this excellent site. It includes very accessible descriptions of the acoustics of guitars and violins.

Acoustics for Violin and Guitar Makers

Here’s a very comprehensive introduction to the subject of acoustics by Eric Jansson, available as downloadable .PDFs.

Modal Analysis of an Acoustic Folk Guitar

Dr. Daniel A. Russell of the Science and Mathematics Department at Kettering University in Flint, MI maintains this site which includes great animations of some of the modes of vibration of an acoustic guitar. Also check out some of the other animations on this site - there is a lot of good basic physics here, and the animations make it easy to understand what is going on.

Geometry and Structural Engineering of Stringed Instruments

Ukuleles by Kawika

Don’t skip this site just because you have no interest in ukes. There is lots of info here for luthiers. David Hurd has a number of pages on technical topics in lutherie that are easy for non-technical folks to understand.

Classic Guitar Intonation (pdf)

Classical guitar maker Gregory Byers did a lot of research and wrote a great paper on the subject of intonation and compensation. Of all the potential factors that can lead to intonation problems in fretted instruments this paper identifies and quantifies the two that both have the most potential to cause problems and that the instrument builder can actually do something about. Real compensation values for typical classical guitars are provided. The file is a very big PDF.

Mike Doolin's Intonation Article

Here's a very nice series of articles on the subject of intonation of stringed instruments by Mike Doolin. It is highly accessible – even non-technical folks should be able to understand the issues from this series.

Body routing templates for the Mezzaluna electric bass


Wood Handbook - Wood as an Engineering Material

The most frequently cited reference on the properties of wood, this entire book is available for download at this site. Your (USA) tax dollars at work for good.

CITES, The Lacey Act and Lutherie

Lance Peck of Forgotten Woods Wrote what is in my opinion the best article there is on the real issues for luthiers with the Lacey Act and CITES. This topic has been discussed ad nauseam in the various discussion groups and other places, and the discussions always generate more heat than light, usually full of second hand anecdotes, amateur interpretations of the law, and all kinds of hand wringing and teeth gnashing. But the fact is, the law is the law and we all must deal with it as it exists. This article is short, to the point, correct, and addresses those topics of interest to folks that make and sell stringed musical instruments is a clear and precise style. This is frankly the only article on this subject I can recommend, and I recommend it highly.

Specific Construction Techniques

Bill Pentz's Dust Collector Website

This site has everything you ever wanted to know about dust collection in the small to medium wood shop. Actually, Bill has much more info on this subject than you'd probably ever care to try to get through! He puts an amazing amount of information, here including plans for making dust collectors from scratch and improving off the shelf models.

Making Decals for Electric Guitars

Sometimes it's the littlest things that are the toughest. Although there are lots of resources available with instructions for, say, carving a neck, there isn't a lot of info on how to make/fake a headstock decal. Bill Jehle provides instructions for an excellent method of doing just that. This is a sub page from a site called Project Guitar which is full of construction information of all sorts.

Photographing Stringed Instruments

So now that you've built some nice instruments you want to take pictures of them right? Jon Shishido, one of the original owners of the BunnyBass online bass store (sadly now defunct) put together this great tutorial on how to photograph your instruments. This page greatly improved my own modest photography skills in a matter of minutes. One very nice thing about the tutorial is that it describes how to work with no special equipment other than a camera and tripod. But the greatest thing to me is that the photo tips are presented in order of their effectiveness. So simply mastering the first tip (hint: don't use the flash) can improve your photographs dramatically.

Marking Gauge


On most luthier's sites this section plugs the bands that use instruments made by the luthier. Here, you'll find recommendations for bands and performers that are awesomely talented.

Lake Street Dive

I was first introduced to the music of this band by one of their proud New England Conservatory professors. They have a wonderful style, with sparse, modern, instrumentation. Everything clicks here, whether they are doing covers or their own compositions. Sweet and way soulful. Hear them in small venues while you still can.

Dúo Barrockófilo

My friends Nadia and Carlos from Bogotá Colombia have this really nice flute and classical guitar duo. They perform all sorts of music and the arrangements are superb. Check out their reharmonization of the tune Eleanor Rigby.

Hot Sauce

Huy Fong Foods Inc.

Sorry, I couldn't resist giving a plug for this company's Sriracha hot sauce. This stuff is killer!