Here are some brief reviews of books I have found useful in my endeavors in making musical instruments or just understanding them. You can "click through" from here to Amazon.com to buy any of these books, or others that you might find there. If you do, I might receive a small commission from Amazon in their Associates program, that will help defray the cost of creating and keeping this web site available. Just click on the image of the book, or on one of the Amazon links on this page to shop for others.
Headings: Guitar > Dulcimer > Harp > Woodworking
Cumpiano and Natelson, Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology
This is the book I'm following in building the guitar on this web site. The general consensus among builders is that this book is the current bible and I don't disagree. Almost nothing is left to the imagination in this comprehensive guide to building both flat-top steel-string and classical (nylon-string) guitars. It doesn't quite take you out to the woods to point out the right trees to fell, but it starts from not too long after that. Some of the operations I had done for me by the vendor are described in the book, in case you want to do them yourself. The building methods described are the ones most generally in use among real luthiers today, unlike some of the other books on this page. The book is very readable, if occasionally a bit pompous, and even the pomposity doesn't get in the way of communicating the information. My recommendation would be to buy or borrow every book on this page, but if you can only get one and don't have a library in your town, this is absolutely the one to get. If you really want to follow the action on this site, this book is the companion.
Jim Williams, A Guitar Maker's Manual
This Australian Luthier presents an astonishing number of photos, step-by-step, but with little text. He shows a method of incorporating a cutaway into a guitar design, and for that it's a plus. The neck attachment described in this book is controversial for a steel-string guitar; he uses a variation of the "Spanish foot" That's used in classical guitars. The problem with this attachment is that it's a bear to take apart if you have to do a neck reset; you essentially have to take the whole guitar apart (or saw off the neck and re-attach it in some other way! -- Thanks to Frank Ford's Frets.com for this tip). Some people will argue "I've had my guitar for umpty-nine years and it's never needed a reset." In any case, for all the photos and the full-size plans included, this would be one to look at. Spiral bound to lie flat on the workbench!
Under Construction! Stay Tuned for more Lutherie Book Reviews!
R. Bruce Hoadley, Understanding Wood
This book is the one you should memorize if you're going to do any serious
woodworking. Well, at least it should be within easy reach, and you should have
a good familiarity with almost everything in it. How humidity affects wood, and
how to design so as to avoid disastrous effects. The characteristic strengths
and weaknesses of different woodworking joints. How to identify different woods
(up to a point -- Hoadley has a whole other book on the subject). How cutting
tools work and why you should sharpen them the way he does. And lots more.
R. A. Salaman, Dictionary of Woodworking Tools
Much more historically oriented than practical, this fascinating book talks
about all that stuff you find in junk shops in upper New England and can't quite
What does this mean? An Amazon.com "associate" receives a small commission on any item sold when a reader clicks through from the associate's page and goes on to buy the item. If you click one of the book titles above, and buy the book in that same session, I'll receive a commission. If you click through and buy something else in the same session, I'll also receive a commission (though a lower percentage). If you click the search button below, and go on to buy something in the same session I'll also receive a commission. I'm detailing this in the spirit of "full disclosure". The money I have gotten from Amazon in the year since I've put these buttons here does not nearly pay the cost of keeping this site hosted, but it helps. The books I list above are books that I sincerely think you'll be interested in if you're interested in Lutherie, and the reason I know that is that I've bought them or read them myself and found them so.