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Making Master Guitars Hardcover – Oct 29 1993

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Robert Hale; Reprinted edition edition (Oct. 29 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0709048092
  • ISBN-13: 978-0709048091
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 2.8 x 30.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #321,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Roy Courtnall is a largely self-taught producer of lutes and guitars and also runs several Adult Education classes in guitar and lute making. 

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Doh on Nov. 1 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The good news is that this book shares basic build info, and detailed build formulas for guitars by many of the masters. The price used to be well north of 120, but at the new price it is a no-brainer for those who want to study classical guitar history and construction. If you want what this book is, you will be well satisfied with it. I am going to mostly cover the negatives in what follows, only because I think this book isn't for everyone, and the points that follow might help some avoid an unnecessary purchase.

- This is not a steel string guitar building book. One can build steel string guitars using many of the methods in this book, but they would also have to be modified in many ways. There are better books for makers of steel string guitars.

- The build methods are old fashioned Spanish. On the positive, this is how all the great guitars were built, and how many of the serious makers continue in Spain and elsewhere. On the negative it is not how americans tend to build guitars. There are advantages for small shops, since the Spanish method (workboards few jigs) is versatile, great for prototypes, and small shop friendly. But if you build this way you will be well outside the norm in the US. Also, there is a technical style that is catching on everywhere, that includes stuff like cored composites. That is way outside the treatment here.

- All the current trends and info appear on the internet well before they make it to books. You could completely ignore books and be little hampered.

- Not all the masterpiece guitars seem all that important to me. I am not the expert on this, but I think some of the plans are for lessor instruments of the great builders.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 15 reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Greatest book on classical guitar Oct. 31 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Great book that has measured drawings of many master guitars. Unlike steel string guitars, where a few models dominate, and look different, say Gibson vs. dreadnaught martin, classical guitars look externally quite similar, while varying a lot internally, and otherwise. Many of the great artists of the steel string guitar play factory models, for a variety of reasons. Top classical guitarists largely play models that originated in small shops with one or a few craftsmen. For these reasons anyone who wants to make a study of building classical guitars will find this eclectic group of guitars very important.
However, one should consider:
The building instructions are 1) European in orientation, few jigs, open assembly and so forth, actually the best place for any guitarmaker to start, but not how most here do; 2) Weak in places, because the writer is not an expert guitar builder himself, though overall very helpful, and a useful reference.
The flip side of a great book on classic designs is that it isn't a good book on current designs. Guitar making theory has advanced somewhat (though one doubts the new instruments are better, they are nonetheless preferred by many anyway). Tone vs. durability or volume for instance. There has been a huge amount of new detail added to modern classicals, for instance work on intonation, volume, wolf notes, fingerboard playability, longevity, and so forth. this stuff isn't here, but on the other hand, it's plastered over the internet.
If you have seen the violin book, this one isn't the same. The violin book was partnered with a greatish builder. Deals a lot with modern practice (though being violins, that isn't that different anyway), and the violin book doesn't have lots of useful measured drawings (any in fact), because you can get patterns of the ouline parts for strads etc...
With whatever reservations, this is the greatest book on the classical guitar, and very reasonably priced, it used to sell for 100.
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
A great book. It has really helped me make good guitars. March 25 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is the clearest, and most well-explained text I have found on guitar making. Everything is explained in great detail, and is therefore easy to follow. Courtnalls new book, THE ART OF VIOLIN MAKING, is similarly exellent on violin making, and has a foreword by Yehudi Menuhin.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
THE book on guitar making June 26 2001
By john zeebol - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Having read all the other books on guitar making, I was amazed to find this one, Making mAster Guitars, so clear, detailed, yet logical and easy to follow. For the first time I felt able to tackle making my own guitar, and the results were pleasing. It would have been nice to have some colour pictures of the historial rosettes, etc., but even so, I advise any aspiring guitar makers to get this one.
I want to try making a violin next, and I will certainly be buying The Art of Violin Making, by the same author.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Dok Watson on "...Master Guitars" Nov. 17 2010
By G. Watson - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In my view this would be one of the important texts for an aspiring builder of classical guitars. The forward portion of the book focusses on the most famous builders. With the rough designs presented it becomes simple to compare how each builder "puts it all together." Which of course, is both beguiling and instructive: beguiling due to the diversity and variance in approaches (for example, the solera, a fundamental tool in building, differs in style between Bagonovich, Cumpiano and this Courtnall text; however it is instructional because those techniques chosen seem logical and coherent. A practiced luthier may take the book and build these guitars, a beginner might look more toward a clearer appraoch to one single insturment. Either way, if you love the classical guitar you will want to have and appreciate this text. I think now is the time for someone like Courtnall to include the more admired of today's contemporary guitars as he leaves off with the 1966 Ramirez (50 years have passed). It would be interesting to see how things have/are changing in the guitar makers studio as well -- how newer technologies influence the builder and the quality or tenor of the instrument (e.g., latticed bracing, replacements for Brazilian Rosewood, tuners, todays builders, today's tools -- I just received my LMI catalog -- tell me whether it is worth spending $700.00 on a side bender when a $15.00 pipe and torch accomplishes the same thing -- the answers to these types of questions would be interesting for a novice builder like myself). I highly recommend the book, however, it's the best I have seen on the history of the great guitars.

Dr. George Watson
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Excellent piece of work March 26 2006
By J. M. Roncken - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Although I do not build guitars myself, I am highly interested in its construction techniques. I have been an amateur guitarist for over 25 years now and planning to buy a handcrafted instrument build by one of the contemporary maestroes. In order to be well prepared I wanted to learn more on the history of guitar building, famous instruments and detailed info on how to build a guitar myself. Hauser, Romanillos, various instruments described in great detail with complete instructions on how to build these instruments yourself. The instructions are accurate, elaborate and extremely thorough and even aimed at people who have no expiernce in woodwork at all. This book has it all, even adresses where to obtain wood,tools etc. Highly recommendable!