Liutaio Mottola Stringed Instrument Design

Woodworkers' Popup Units Conversion Tool / Calculator

Calculator converts to/from decimal inches, fractional inches, millimeters. Popups must be enabled for this site. From the Liutaio Mottola lutherie information website.

Did you know ....

.... you can click on most of the assembly photos on this site to enlarge them for a close look? Also, hovering the cursor over most linear dimension values will convert the values to decimal inches, fractional inches, and SI units.

Tips on Using Cumpiano and Natelson's Book:
Guitarmaking Tradition and Technology

Here are some tips that folks attempting to use this book to build a first instrument may find useful.

Side bending - The instruments are made on a work board rather than in a mold, and as such side bending requires much skill on the part of the builder. In my observation side bending is one of those things that first timers have a lot of trouble with. It is one thing to do this when you have a skilled instructor on hand to guide you, but quite another again if you have to figure this out on your own. The authors suggest you get some practice slats and practice bending on them, before you go to your actual instrument. This is sage advice. If you still have trouble, consider building and using an outside mold for bending sides (you’ll need to get another book, like Sloan’s to see how to do this, or check out my article on building and using the outside mold).

Neck Carving - The authors show one way to carve a neck, and they do it in a superbly detailed manner. Their method uses paring chisels which work great when the neck blank is made of mahogany but can be tough to use (or even impossible) if the neck is made of harder wood. If you plan on using say, maple for your instrument, consider using a rasp to do the shaping instead of the paring chisels.

Classical Guitar - The construction of the classical guitar does not use the traditional (defined loosely as “the way Torres did it”) form of the neck block, called a Spanish Heel, an issue which doesn’t bother me in the slightest but might twit the sensibilities of traditionally oriented classical guitar makers. Also, classical makers have become accustomed to using metric units of measurement, and this book uses inches. There are no real issues with any of this but you may want to bear these things in mind if you tend toward the traditional.

Steel String Guitar - While far, far easier than the more common dovetail joint, the pinned neck attachment of the steel string is difficult to implement and requires the construction of a special tool. It is also non-traditional but then again there are not such strongly maintained traditions for steel strings as there are for classicals. William Cumpiano realizes this is a issue and provides an alternate (bolt on) configuration on his website. Personally I prefer the Taylor-style bolt-on neck joint which I feel is considerably simpler and is one of the best neck joints ever devised. Read how to implement one here.

Last updated: Saturday, November 25, 2017