Books about Classical Guitar and Lute Making: An Annotated Bibliography

Making a Spanish Guitar
by J.L. Romanillos
Hardback, 221 pages, Includes full size guitar plans

"In this book I have endeavoured to explain the path that I followed, as a self-taught guitar maker with no prior knowledge of guitar making, and the difficulties that I had to overcome to make guitars by hand. I thought that my experiences could help those interested in making a Spanish guitar without sophisticated machinery and specialist tools. I explain how to sharpen and handle tools like cutting and marking gauges, make special devices, as well as how to make the solera and bend the ribs. I define my way of assembling the guitar and polishing the instrument and above all, how to select a good spruce soundboard. Apart from the text, I have taken photographs of my work in progress in my present workshop in Guijosa. Included with my book are full-size plans of two Romanillos guitars; Romanillos Plan I based on the guitar made for Julian Bream in 1973, and Romanillos Plan II based on the guitar made by Antonio de Torres in 1885.

This may sound an old-fashioned approach to explain how to make a guitar in this technological century bearing in mind that there is a plethora of books on guitar making that advocate the use of machinery. I have always enjoyed carving woods and for me guitar making is a wonderful way of cajoling sound out of the wood by using my own hands and dreaming that the next guitar will turn out to be the perfect guitar. One thing is guaranteed for those who take the plunge into making a guitar following this book; the experience will be unforgettable."
José L. Romanillos, Guijosa, 2013

Cahier d'atelier, la construction d'une guitare classique (édition en fac-similé) Robert Bouchet edited by Cité De La Musique
This is a facsimile reproduction of the bench notebook of the great French guitar maker, Robert Bouchet. The facsimile edition lays out in detail Bouchet's method of construction. It also. includes a biographical article and notes by fellow French master, Daniel Friederich. The text is in French. 123 pages.

Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology by W. Cumpiano & J. Natelson

Often called the "Bible" of guitar making, this work presents the most thorough overview available for the serious beginning guitar maker about building both a classical and steel string guitar. With this book the authors fill the gaps that are missing in many of the earlier books on guitar construction. The book is written from the point of view of one who has taught. Both Mr. Cumpiano and Mr. Natelson have had many years of experience in teaching guitar construction. Their detail and thoroughness are evident in the orderly layout and clear, informative text and photos. As one student mentioned, their methods of carving the neck with a chisel are much more elegant and craftsmen-like than shaping with rasps, surforms, and files. This book is a must for every student luthier, and there is undoubtedly much here from which even an experienced guitar builder can benefit. 380 pages, 347 photographs, and 121 line drawings.
Classical Guitarmaking by John S. Bogdanovich

John S. Bogdanovich is a luthier and guitarist who builds mostly concert classical guitars. He brings a unique combination of skills to his craft having been a performer, a luthier and a hardware design engineer. These skills are all evident in this new book on building classical guitars. There is a Bogdanovich classical guitar plan included in the book (not to scale). Hardbound, 309 pages.

Making Master Guitars by Roy Courtnall

Part 1 of this book consists of eight chapters, each one devoted to one master luthier. Beginning with Torres, Courtnall offers color pictures and discussions on Santos Hernández, Hermann Hauser, Hernández y Aguado, Ignacio Fleta, Robert Bouchet, Daniel Friederich, and José Romanillos. Along with an interesting biographical sketch of each maker and color photos of their guitars, there are plans (more generic than actual blue prints), photos of rosette details and other interesting highlights of the makers' instruments. Parts 2 and 3 describe the tools, materials, and the Spanish construction style.

Manual of Guitar Technology by Franz Jahnel

The result of a lifetime of study by Franz Jahnel with European masters, this book is intended for serious builders. It presents scientific information on acoustic principles in guitar making; chemical properties of finishing materials; the physics of string making; formulas for vibration and scale properties; a twenty-four page technical chart of over 300 wood species; construction plans for classical, steel-string and carved-top guitars, and more. 229 pages, softcover.

Left-Brain Lutherie by David C. Hurd

If you're a luthier who is seriously seeking more consistency in the sound and stability of your instruments, this book was written for you. The author explores in depth instrument top deflection, resonance coupling of instrument tops and backs, neck deflection, neck/body stability, bridge parameters, string diameter and compensation, and much more. This is not a step-by-step manual for making a guitar, but a highly technical manual that applies basic physics and engineering concepts to instrument making. Each topic is accompanied by relevant graphs and equations. The author presents experimental setups in detail, so that a luthier with a few simple materials, a home computer, and a knowledge of math can duplicate and extend the studies. Over 200 pages, softcover; spiral bound for convenience in your workshop. The book also includes a CD-ROM containing spreadsheets for data analysis, and color photos of experimental setups.

Historical Lute Construction by Robert Lundberg

This is the late Robert Lundberg's masterpiece, the definitive contemporary work on lute construction. It is s minutely detailed how to book with seven reduced plans and over 600 step-by-step photos. This book has been praised by guitar makers for its insight into Lundberg's mastery of woodworking techniques. 250 pages, hardcover.

Classic Guitar Construction by Irving Sloane

For many years this layman's introduction to classical guitar construction was the only resource available to those interested in building a classical guitar. Though not nearly as comprehensive and detailed as many more recent works, this book does present a general introduction to a variety of useful techniques. It is not recommended as a complete tutorial on guitar making however. Among other things, Mr. Sloane refers to the techniques of many of the great Spanish luthiers when describing his methods. 96 pages, over 120 diagrams and high quality black and white photographs, softbound.

The Luthier's Handbook by Roger H. Siminoff

The Luthier's Handbook explores the secrets and science behind making good-sounding acoustic stringed instruments. Roger H. Siminoff brings to this work more than four decades of luthierie experience and shares the time-tested philosophies, tips and technology of the craft. As the ideal complement to other books on building instruments, this text describes the structural and acoustical attributes of air chambers; what to listen for when tap-tuning; selecting a good piece of wood; placement of the braces and tone bars and how to tune them; how to select the right strings; what to consider in bridge design concepts; and much more. Includes a free String Gauge Calculator for determining the right set of strings.

Make Your Own Classical Guitar by Stanley Doubtfire

The Sensations of Tone by Hermann Helmholtz

This ground breaking work discusses how tones may be perceived as built up by the base tone (fundamental) and the harmonic upper partial tones. These upper partial tones are what distinguish different instruments and determine their quality of the tone, e.g. "if only the unevenly numbered partials are present ... the quality of the tone is hollow, and, when a large number of such upper partials are present, nasal," etc.