Liutaio Mottola Stringed Instrument Design

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Stringed Musical Instruments and Plans

Here are brief descriptions, photos, and plans for a few of my original instrument designs. The plans are not for beginners, but experienced luthiers will have no problem with them as is, and may find these useful points of departure for their own designs, too. Generally plans are available in both AutoCAD 2000 .dwg and .dxf file formats (zipped), and as full sized and tiled PDFs. The full sized PDFs can be viewed and printed out using the Adobe Acrobat reader, but you’ll need a large format printer to print the plans out. The tiled PDFs are just like the full sized plans except they have been broken up into tiles which can be printed on a standard printer and pieced together to make a full sized plan. Be sure to print out PDFs with Page Scaling on the print dialog set to "none". Note that the PDF plans have rulers printed down the sides and the tiled plans are printed over a grid. Before using the plans it would be a good idea to measure the printed rulers to be sure your printer printed the plans at the correct size. If not, find another printer. Postscript printers are generally the best in that they can be calibrated for image size. The PDF plans have all of the details superimposed on a single page and so can be tough to look at. It is a lot easier to view the CAD files as you can turn the different layers on and off so you see only the detail you want at a given time. The .dwg and .dxf files can be viewed with a special viewer or opened for use with some CAD software. The whole issue of dealing with the CAD files is discussed here.

The downloadable copyrighted instrument plans are available for non-commercial use only and may not be redistributed.

If you build any of these instruments I would love to hear from you about it. There is only so much information on possible improvements and enhancements I can get out of the handful I build. Any feedback you can provide will be much appreciated. Also please note that the plans themselves may not be sold in any form.

If you are looking for plans for standard or historical instruments please check out both the Instrument Plans and the Other Sources of Instrument Plans sections of the GAL website. There are also a lot of excellent plans in the Plans section of the Musical Instrument Makers' Forum website. The Plans page of French luthier Christophe Grellier has some nicely drawn plans available for download under a Creative Commons license. Another good source of acoustic guitar and violin plans is the website of Roy Courtnall Summerfield.

A note for musicians: I do not build instruments commercially, but that doesn't mean you can't own one of these beautiful instruments. The subject of what you should do if you would like one of these instruments is covered on the FAQ page.

Last updated: July 15, 2018

Acoustic Guitars

Late 1920s Gibson L-1 Flattop Guitar Look Alike

Late 1920s Gibson L-1 Flattop Guitar Look Alike

A guitar like the one blues legend Robert Johnson plays in the iconic photo of him. (January 2017)

Colombian Andean Tiple

Colombian Andean Tiple

A guitarlike Colombian instrument with twelve steel strings in four courses of three. (January 2016)

Louis Panormo ''Spanish Style'' Guitar

Louis Panormo ''Spanish Style'' Replica Guitar

A replica of a late 1840's guitar by London luthier Louis Panormo. (September 2014)

Cincia Classical Guitar

Cincia Classical Guitar

A traditional classic guitar but with a fully removable bolt-on neck. Cincia is Italian for chickadee, the birds which festoon the soundhole rosette. (May 2011)

Ipomoea Steel String Guitar

Ipomoea Steel String Guitar

A modern small bodied steel string flattop guitar with and offset soundhole and pinless bridge. The guitar has a fully removable bolt-on neck and a Florentine cutaway. Ipomoea is Italian for morning glory, a nod to the hand painted morning glory motif on the instrument's headstock. (June 2009)

Girasoli Parlor Jazz Guitar

Girasoli Parlor Jazz Guitar

A small bodied archtop jazz guitar with either a round hole or f-holes. The body is similar in size to that of a classical or small flattop and is quite comfortable to play. The acoustics of the instrument were optimized for amplified tone. Girasoli is Italian for sunflowers, a nod to the hand painted sunflower motif on the instrument's headstock. (July 2003)



Panormo style Bambina Soprano Ukulele

Panormo Bambina style Soprano Ukulele

Soprano uke in the style of a late 19th century child's guitar probably built by George Lewis Panormo. (January 2018)


Acoustic Bass Guitars

Elastico Acoustic Ashbory Style Bass

Elastico Acoustic Bass

This is an acoustic Ashbory style bass, with rubber strings. Construction is basically the same as a flattop guitar. For various structural and acoustic reasons this one is made mostly of plywood. The sound is amazingly close to that of an upright bass, although Ashbory aficionados probably could have guessed that. Never heard of an Ashbory bass? Check out the LargeSound website. Elastico is Italian for rubber band. (May 2002)

Uccello Grasso Acoustic Bass Guitar

Uccello Grasso Acoustic Bass

An archtop acoustic bass guitar with the same body outline as the Elastico, above. Construction of this one follows closely that of an archtop acoustic guitar. This is another instrument with good upright-like tone. Uccello Grasso (ooh-CHELL-oh GRAS-oh) is Italian for, well, let me say it means something like "fat bird". With its narrow upper bout and an extra, small, round sound hole, the body of this instrument looks a little like a fat bird from the front. (April 2002)

Bassola Acoustic Bass Guitar

Bassola Acoustic Bass

A lefty archtop acoustic bass guitar with a really big body, 24" across the lower bout. Construction of this one follows closely that of an f-style mandolin. This is another instrument with good upright-like tone. Bassola isn't an Italian word, but it does rhyme with my last name. Unfortunately I don't have plans available for this one, but here is an article which describes the construction. (September 1999)

Canotto Acoustic Bass

Canotto Acoustic Bass

An upright acoustic bass in the style of Savart violins. This upright features a 34” scale and neck dimensions similar to those of electric basses. In essence this is an upright bass for electric bass players. Its big radius fingerboard makes it a pizzicato-only instrument. As a Savart style instrument, the Canotto bass is very easy to build. Full size paper plans for this instrument are available from the Guild of American Luthiers. (November 2003)

Acoustic Bass Guitar

Tinozza Acoustic Bass Guitar

The Tinozza is an acoustic bass guitar (ABG). It features orchestral strings and an unusual bridge and string anchoring arrangement for a tone which is much more like that of the double bass than any other ABG. Full-size plans are available for this instrument as are some pictorial assembly details. (June 2006)

Acoustic Bass Guitar

Cannone Acoustic Bass Guitar

The Cannone is an experimental acoustic bass guitar (ABG). It features an interesting body which includes a long body extension at the bass side of the upper bout. (January 2013)


Electric Upright Basses

Libellula Electric Upright Bass

Libellula Electric Upright Bass

The Libellula is a wearable electric upright bass (EUB). It hangs from a strap (two, actually) like a guitar and weighs just 5½ pounds. It features a solid mahogany body/neck, a traditional pegbox and scroll, and a high mass high compliance bridge with piezo transducer. The Libellula is a pizzicato-only instrument with a 35" scale, so it is an ideal instrument for the bass guitarist. Full-size plans are available for this instrument as are some pictorial assembly details. (January 2005)


Electric Guitars

Chicken Wing Solid Body Electric Guitar

Chicken Wing Solid Body Electric Guitar

A solid body electric guitar with a bolt on neck and design details taken from everyone's favorite poultry. Two Strat style pickups and a surface mounted bridge makes construction pretty basic. In addition to the decidedly bird like body shape, the headstock of this instrument looks a lot like (naturally) a chicken wing. All in all a highly gallinaceous (look it up!) electric guitar. (July 2004)


Electric Bass Guitars

Mezzaluna Electric Basses

Mezzaluna Electric Basses

I’ve got a lot of mileage out of this basic design, including a solid body electric bass guitar, an ultra lightweight electric, a fretless acoustic electric, and two miniature solid body electrics – a piccolo (small) and a piccolino (tiny). Mezzaluna is Italian for half moon. The name comes from the wide waist cutout, which allows the instrument to be played resting on the leg in a superior ergonomic position. (March 2002)