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Luthiery

Music I’d Like To Hear #133

Doug Berch - Fri, 07/28/2017 - 7:37am
Tamburitza Ensemble
Categories: Luthiery

Musical Instrument Museums On Line

Doug Berch - Wed, 07/26/2017 - 2:29pm
Musical Instrument Museums On Line is a site that aggregates collections of musical instruments primarily held by European museums. The site offers a searchable database of instruments, links to the museums where the instruments are held, and photographs and general information … Continue reading
Categories: Luthiery

My eBay Listing: 50% Off, Vintage Fulton Transitional Jointer Plane, 26 inch

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Tue, 07/25/2017 - 6:21pm
I cut my asking price by 50%, this plane needs to go to a good home to be used and appreciated! Please take another look! Thanks!
Categories: Luthiery

My eBay Listing: Vintage Fulton Tool Company Transitional Jointer Plane, 26 inch

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 9:46am
The auction for this plane starts on Tuesday, July 25, 2017 at 6am PDT and will run for three days. It will not be listed on eBay until that day! Please visit eBay on that day and search for "Vintage Fulton Tool Company Transitional Jointer Plane, 26 inch"!

Vintage Fulton Tool Company Transitional Jointer Plane, 26 inch. This is a good user plane. Bottom and sides were jointed, not much patina is left on sides and bottom. A piece of ebony has been inlayed to close the mouth, finish work on mouth has not been completed. 85% of japanning remains on metal parts. Knob is in good condition, tote has some dings, patina remains on top and ends of plane. No manufacture mark on plane body, Fulton Tool Co. is on the 2 5/8" wide plane iron which still has plenty of length for use and no pitting. Light pitting on plane cap. This plane needs a good home! Please direct any questions to highcountrylutherie@gmail.com

Categories: Luthiery

Custom Pickups for Epiphone Zephyr Emperor Regent Varitone

James Roadman Instrument Repair - Sat, 07/22/2017 - 10:02pm

A customer brought in this Epiphone Zephyr Emperor Regent without the original New York Pickups.  Having rewound some in the past I have an understanding about how they are constructed.  The owner wanted to try something different so I made a set of traditional single coil bar pickups in the same type of mounting rings as the originals.  I milled delrin bobbins to surround the steel bars and used rare earth magnets.  The covers are bent brass.  Shaping the mounting rings was a challenge due to the curvature of the top.

IMG_8697 IMG_8698 IMG_8699 IMG_8700 IMG_8701 IMG_8702 IMG_8703

The post Custom Pickups for Epiphone Zephyr Emperor Regent Varitone appeared first on James Roadman Instrument Repair.

Categories: Luthiery

Music I’d Like To Hear #132

Doug Berch - Sat, 07/08/2017 - 11:48am
Categories: Luthiery

What’s On The Bench – 7/5/2017

Doug Berch - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 8:03pm

Dulcimer in the home stretch

On the bench is a curly walnut dulcimer having its head attached with hide glue.

It is important to attach a head onto a dulcimer, because if you don’t, it will go searching the night to find a head and the one it chooses could be YOUR HEAD!

But I digress.

This dulcimer is one of three I am currently working on. The other two dulcimers are ready for final preparation before receiving the finish and tomorrow this dulcimer will be ready to join them.

I wait until I have 3 or 4 dulcimers ready to go through the finishing process at the same time. I put the woodworking tools away, clean the shop, and dedicate the space to finish work for about a week.

After all coats of finish are applied the dulcimers hang on the wall for several days so the finish can further cure before being rubbed out.

While the finish is curing I start work on the next 3 or 4 dulcimers.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

You can see my work in progress by following me on Instagram.

Categories: Luthiery

Music I’d Like To Hear #131

Doug Berch - Mon, 06/26/2017 - 11:14am

L'Accordeon a Tahiti

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Categories: Luthiery

Thoughts About Selling Dulcimers That Don’t Exist

Doug Berch - Fri, 06/23/2017 - 3:55pm

Dulcimer in progress

I have decided to take a break from taking advance orders for custom dulcimers.

Five years ago about half my dulcimers were sold before I made them. Someone would choose from various options I offer and give me a deposit to begin making their dulcimer. I prioritized these custom orders and built them in the order they were received.

While building these custom dulcimers I also had time to build dulcimers that were not already sold. I usually had three to five dulcimers on hand for sale.

Five years ago I suddenly had to deal with some serious lower back issues that added unexpected flavor and color to my life. It has been an interesting journey and it is not yet over.

I am currently able to work in the shop about one-third the amount of time I would prefer to be working. Some days or weeks I am able to work more, some less, some not at all, but it averages out to working about a third of the time I used to.

During this time I have also had a surprising increase in custom orders.  All but one dulcimer I have sold in the past 3 years was ordered in advance.

My time in the shop has become completely focused on custom work. I keep thinking I will have time to build some dulcimers to put up for sale but it just hasn’t happened.

Most of the custom dulcimers I build are pretty much the same as dulcimers I would ordinarily build but the new owner chooses particular wood, string length, number of strings, fret patterns, and other options that I offer. Occasionally someone asked for a unique feature that had to do with playability for their particular style and when I felt it worked with my sense of instrument design then I would do that as well.

The tricky part of this is that when I do have dulcimers on hand for sale they are sometimes not exactly what someone wants. If it has no dots in the fingerboard someone will want dots in the fingerboard. If it has 3 strings someone wants one just like it with 4 strings or vice-versa.

In the near future I will be offering dulcimers for sale and I am thinking there will usually be something available that will appeal to someone. If someone wants something specific I will keep a list and contact them if I make something like what they want. I’ll also be happy to contact people and let them know when I have more dulcimers available.

In the long run I think this will work better for everyone. When I put a dulcimer up for sale people can try it and know exactly what they are getting. I can ship it and you can return it if you decide you don’t care for it. I have sold many dulcimers this way and so far no one has decided not to keep it.

With a custom order the dulcimer is yours. Unless there is a problem with it covered by my warranty the dulcimer is not returnable. Again, I have sold many dulcimers this way and almost everyone was 100% happy. One person was less than 100% happy but still liked the dulcimer.

I think this is a good track record.

So in the near future I will be only selling dulcimers that exist.

If you are on my waiting list please don’t freak out! I am happily working on your dulcimer and you will get it on schedule.

I feel better already.

Categories: Luthiery

Music I’d Like To Hear #130

Doug Berch - Wed, 06/14/2017 - 4:28pm

Music I'd Like To Hear

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Categories: Luthiery

Antonio de Torres - Guitar Maker, Carpenter

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Tue, 06/13/2017 - 9:38am
His greatest merit is that he came up with a universally accepted guitar.

Jose Luis Romanillos, luthier



Today marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Antonio de Torres.

Those of us who love the classical guitar owe this man everything, he created a model of the guitar that continues to capture the hearts of true music lovers.

He really didn't do anything that hadn't already been done by other guitar makers - other makers had used larger bodies, the so-called fan bracing, domed tops, longer string lengths, all this was already known - but Torres guitars sounded different from others.

Many contemporary classical guitar makers build copies of the original Torres guitars, there are several well known classical guitarists that concertize on original Torres guitars because even after 130+ years those guitars still have wonderful voices.

Antonio de Torres apprenticed with a carpenters guild in Vera, Spain when he was 12 years and when he was 17 he was listed in the guild rolls as a master carpenter. Several writers have stated that Torres was a "simple" or "lowly" carpenter, but to be a master carpenter in 1834 was anything but simple.



You were expected to know all the latest building styles and construction techniques, many of these techniques were published in books which meant that you had to be able to read. At that time in Spain, 76% of the population was illiterate, yet, Antonio de Torres could read and write. Torres' father was a tax collector, perhaps he taught his son how to read and write. In the book, Antonio de Torres, Guitar Maker, by Jose Romanillos, Romanillos speculates that Torres attended local schools before he became an apprentice.

Carpinteria de Armar

I have done some research on the Internet about traditional Spanish carpentry and discovered that Spanish carpenters of the time dealt with the same construction problems the rest of Europe had to deal with, namely how to keep the building from falling apart. As a master carpenter, you would know la carpinteria de armar(how to construct a building); la carpinteria de lazo, (loop carpentry) and perhaps mostly importantly tocar de madera, (how to work wood).




I want to believe that Torres was a carpenter, not a joiner, because a guitar is in a way, an architectural creation. It is constructed so it can stay together under pressure (a modern classical guitar is subjected to 90 pounds or more of pressure from the strings). If the top is not properly braced to take this tension it will collapse or even worse the whole guitar may fly apart. Most cabinets and chests are not subjected to a constant pressure. Cabinetry is not carpentry.

Carpinteria de Lazo

It is claimed that Torres went to Granada, Spain in 1836 to learn how to make a guitar, when he returned home he continued as a carpenter and tried several other business ventures. His first wife died in 1845 and that is when he moved to Seville and by 1852 was known as a guitarrero.

I would like to thank Don Antonio de Torres Jurado for the work that he did. The guitar is a beautiful instrument, but Torres took all the work of the great makers before him and made it the most beautiful instrument ever created.

If you are interested in learning more about traditional Spanish carpentry I recommend that you click here to visit the Albanecor website on carpinteria de lo blanco.



The kind of carpentry work that Antonio de Torres was trained to do

Guitar by Antonio de Torres

Categories: Luthiery

What’s On The Bench – 6/12/2017

Doug Berch - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 11:20am

Dulcimer Peghead In Progress

I have decided to go back to an older style of peghead assembly on the current batch of dulcimers I’m working on. I used this design for years and preferred how it looked but it seemed too labor intensive for a relatively simple part of the dulcimer.

I follow my intuition on things like this and it seems like time to use this joint again, at least for now. So what if it is a lot more work?  I enjoy the process! There is the old saying that “time is money” but if I made more money off of my time I would just waste it on house payments, groceries, healthcare, etc.

The head block gets glued on with hide glue and is then sawn to rough shape with a kataba saw. Following the sawing comes bringing the block close to flush with the sides using a low-angle block plane followed by a scraper and file.

Cleaning up a dulcimer with a file and scraper

The first few times I did this required nerves of steel. It would not be difficult to have a major “Oops!” moment fairly late in the construction process. After gaining some experience I found this to be a relaxing and enjoyable process.

Categories: Luthiery

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