Stradivari Baroque Guitar


New project! Getting close to completion on a copy of the Stradivari Sabionari Baroque Guitar. I created my own plan of the instrument based on measurements, thicknesses and photos of the original. Can’t wait to listen to the finished product! Still have a ways to go. The final details are so crucial and time consuming. I will keep you updated on the progress.

13-Course Baroque Lute Bowl in Maple


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Here is the bowl pretty much finished. I will double check the surface for glue residue before continuing. The counter cap of spruce will be glued on the inside bottom of the bowl for extra support. I think the inside view of the bowl with the paper glued in-between ribs is one of my favorite aspects of lute building. I really like the pattern and contrast it creates.

Coloring wood for depth of finish


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I am working on the right pigment for coloring the maple wood bowl on the 13-course lute. The top picture is the difference between the natural blonde color of maple and what it looks like after pigment is applied. Most luthiers color their instruments in the finishing stage. I posted a picture of a violin “in the white” below to show what a violin looks like before being finished and deepened with color. Notice how the sample that I colored above has a much more distinct curly pattern. These are both from the same piece of wood. Some recipes for violin varnish require the addition of iron oxide to the varnish to make the deep red we so commonly see on these instruments. Iron oxide is part of the pigment that I put on the piece of maple pictured above. Iron oxide (also known as rust) can give a beautiful depth to a finished instrument.

Beginning of 13 Course Lute Bowl in Maple


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Here is the beginning of the construction of an eleven ribbed lute bowl in maple. It begins life as a thin slat of wood that is carefully planed down and then bent to the shape of the wooden mould. The ribs are fitted one by one trimming and refining until all the edges meet cleanly for a fit that conforms to the shape of the mould and the rib next to it. The bowl has an ugly look now, very unrefined with glue on it and untrimmed edges on the front; that will all be cleaned up later.

Varnishing the Bowl




Here is the bowl after a few coats of varnish. Yew is a very dense wood and doesn’t have the pores that hardwoods have; so finishing requires less coats. This is a homemade varnish that is all natural, which means NO chemicals. It is spirit based and applied with a french polish technique. After there are enough coats of varnish, the surface is polished to a luster with pumice.

Gluing On Wooden Frets



I measured out the placement for the 9th through 12th frets on the belly of the lute. These are made from ebony and planed down to about 1 mm thickness. First they are glued on and then I applied a few coats of wax for protection on the spruce belly. It is tricky to keep the spruce clean from any ebony dust contamination. A sharp scraper helps to keep dust to a minimum.

Preparing the Bowl for Varnish


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I have begun to prepare the bowl for varnishing. After scraping all the residual hide glue from joining the ribs, any irregular areas are sanded smooth. I burnish the wood with a very hard and smooth stone before applying any varnish. I show an example of what a burnished vs. non burnished rib looks like in the photo. The wood is pacific yew and it is very dense. It burnishes to a nice luster pretty quick.

Veneering the Neck and Pegbox



The neck is first shaped, then a thin layer of hardwood is veneered over it. I continued the design into the bottom of the pegbox shown in the last picture.  I used cocobolo, ebony and holly for the stripes.  The pegbox is still separate from the neck; I will drill, ream and fit all the tuning pegs into the pegbox before gluing these parts together.

Constructing the bowl of yew wood


The bowl is constructed on a solid wooden form and it looks like this on the inside when it first comes off the mold.


Next you attach hand-made paper between each joint so that it stays together!


The masking tape shown here is essential before the paper strips are glued on the inside. The green masking tape keeps the joints from splitting and ruining all of the work you put in! Shown at the bottom is a piece of wood connecting all the ribs together. This is called the cap, I chose a piece of yew with a good amount of sap wood for a nice look.