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.
Last updated: Saturday, March 09, 2013
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 monthly meetings offer a wealth of information.
An active online forum for luthiers and other musical instrument makers. There is enough critical mass of subscribers in the guitar section to attract knowledgeable posters. There is substantial chatter here, though.
Another active online forum for classical guitar luthiers. There is enough critical mass of subscribers here to attract knowledgeable posters, and in fact some of the very best modern builders post here on a regular basis. There is substantial chatter here in this one, too, but it seems to be more tightly moderated than some of the other discussion groups.
An active online forum for violin family luthiers. There is enough critical mass of subscribers to attract a number of knowledgeable posters. There is substantial chatter here, though.
A friend introduced me to this one, telling me that something I wrote on the topic of string tension in the Lutherie Myth/Science section started the equivalent of a forum fistfight there. But when I checked it out I found a very thorough (albeit enjoyably rough and tumble) working over of the topic, with everyone remaining friends in the end. Very un-forum-like! Lots of electric guitar and bass info here.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
Here’s a very comprehensive introduction to the subject of acoustics by Eric Jansson, available as downloadable .PDFs.
This very nice site is put up by Robert A. O'Rourke. It contains animations which demonstrate many aspects of the physics of vibrating strings.
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.
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.
Computer science prof Jon Sevy has some great info and some useful software for designers and builders of stringed instruments. There are also how-to sections with very good photographs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are all sorts of instructions for French Polishing available but the Milburn's have put together a collection that includes so many of the details that first time French Polishers need to be successful. French Polishing is not difficult to do, but there are so many details that can make the difference between success and failure, and not all instructional materials tell you all of them. The techniques described in these pages are for what might be called classic French Polishing, but the authors clearly are not holding to tradition just for tradition's sake. Really nice work here.
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.
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.
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.
I don't use spreadsheets too much myself, but there are a number of folks behind the links above that make all sorts of lutherie calculations available in spreadsheet form. Don't have Microsoft Excel and don't want to buy it? You can download the Open Office software package from OpenOffice.org. It includes word processing, graphics, and spreadsheet tools. The spreadsheet tool will read, write and create spreadsheets in Excel format.
Sorry, I couldn't resist giving a plug for this company's Sriracha hot sauce. This stuff is killer!