View Full Version : Luthier's Library

09-18-2013, 11:24 PM
This week I treated myself to a couple of new books on guitar building...

The Luthier's Handbook (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0634014684/)
Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0811806405/)

I've literally only just started the second book but completed the first one last night.

The luthiers handbook was very interesting. It was all about the science of acoustics and tone. It was very detailed and was clearly written by someone with a great deal of knowledge and experience. It was however, in my opinion a fairly daunting read for the amateur luthier.

I feel fairly confident that I can make an instrument that looks presentable and isn't a total pig to play but this book isn't about that at all. It's explains, in detail how each component of a guitar affects the tone and how those parts interact.

I have definitely learned a lot about how guitars make sound and I am sure this will effect my designs and processes whilst making instruments. However, overall I didn't really enjoy reading it.

In places the book seemed kind of arrogant and patronising. I think this is best illustrated by the following paragraph.

"Sounds complicated. Not really. Read it again."

I usually finish guitar building books on a huge high and run off to ebay to search for wood and tools, or go and play my favourite guitar and marvel in its beauty. After finishing this book I felt like no matter how hard I tried I was only likely to make a mediocre acoustic instrument at best.

I'm hoping that as time goes on I will revisit the book as and when specific bits are relevant to the challenges I am facing. Maybe then I will fully appreciate it.

Has anyone else read either of these books? If so, what did you think?

Any suggestions as to what I should read next?

Liam Ryan
09-19-2013, 12:31 AM
Read them all. :)

Some luthery books may be available at local libraries.

Of all my luthery books the Somogyi books are the most useful. They got me thinking about how to build rather than showing me how to build. YMMV......

09-19-2013, 05:48 AM
I have read both of those other books you mentioned. The Somogyi books are by far the favorites of what I have read. At first I was put off a bit by the price tag, but after reading them, they are a bargain, made the other books seem expensive.

09-19-2013, 09:08 PM
Two votes for Somogyi. I had never heard of him before.

Sounds like I better change that :D


Beau Hannam Ukuleles
09-20-2013, 06:51 PM
Cumpiano is a little old now but worth having- DONT attach your necks like he does. It is a ridiculous way to do it and he has since changed.

Somogyi is good (get it from Amazon or ABEbooks or maybe Bookdepository for about $165 all up for both. I found these good in some ways but if your a novice you will not get alot from the build book as hardly any dimensions are actually given.

Building Master guitars is also another excellent choice as is the Bogdanovich book- both deal with classical guitars but


However, the best of them all (so im told) is the Gore/Gilet 2 vol book. There was a review of it in GAL a few issues back



09-21-2013, 04:50 AM
correct, Somogyi does not give dimensions, or even how to.. They are more 'how to learn how to think' and are filled with massive amounts of good stuff. The other books left me wanting more, these books gave me plenty to chew on.. Still reading in them. The others were read relatively quickly, though I did go through the Luthiers handbook a few times. I am still a novice, was much more of a novice when I got these books. I am skilled with wood and can figure a lot out, so step by step is not what I was looking for. I recommend them highly.

A while back, Chuck mentioned the GAL Redbooks as being very worthwhile. When I am ready to read more, ( and have fully finished the Somogyi books) the Red Books are next on my list.