Making Musical Instruments:
A short bibliography by Ellen Kuhfeld

Bessaraboff, Nicholas, Ancient European musical instruments (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1941) -- "An organological study of the musical instruments in the Leslie Lindsey Mason collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston". Actual instruments, with sizes for everything, tunings for most, dimensioned drawings and plans for some. Essential for the authenticity-minded.

Botermans, Jack; Dewit, Herman; Goddefroy, Hans, Making and playing musical instruments (English translation copyright 1989 by Trendbook International, West Germany) -- Just plain fun to read, and very useable. Even has plans for the hurdy-gurdy, a devilish difficult instrument to build. Scientific American gave this book a glowing review; I agree.

Buchanan, George, Making stringed instruments: a workshop guide (Sterling Publishing, New York, 1990) -- Violin, viola, cello, mandolin, mandola and guitar. This is the book I wish I had written. Marvelously clear words and illustrations, and the shop techniques are good for all instruments. If you can only get two books, this and Bessaraboff are the ones.

Cooper, Robert S., Lute construction (Savannah, GA, 1963) -- Short, clear, single-minded. If you want a lute, this is the book.

De Paule, Andy, Country instruments: makin' your own (Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1979) -- instructions and templates for the dulcimer, mandolin, guitar, and fiddle. Wood seasoning and selection (including tree selection and lumbering), plans and suggestions for tools. Most books tell you what you need, then direct you to your local supplier. De Paule emphasizes independence from formal sources of supply. Not the best book in many ways -- but useful beyond measure if you live in Snake Hollow (population 153) and don't have mail-order catalogs.

Diagram Group, Musical instruments of the world: an illustrated encyclopedia (Bantam, New York, 1978) -- 4000 pictures, with commentary, of instruments both ancient and new.

Doubtfire, Stanley, Make your own classical guitar (Schocken Books, New York, 1983) - Just what the title says.

Ford, Charles (editor), Making musical instruments: strings and keyboard (Pantheon Books, New York, 1979) -- Viol, lute, violin, guitar, harpsichord. Restoration and conservation of historical musical instruments. An excellent book for advanced students.

Hines, Chet, How to Make and Play the Dulcimore (An Early American Society Book) Stackpole Books

Irwin, John Rice, Musical instruments of the southern Appalachian mountains (Schiffer Publishing, West Chester, PA, 1983) -- Consciousness-raising! Once you see the many forms a folk instrument can take, you'll never again be intimidated by the "one true way" of some instrument books.

Mersenne, Marin, Harmonie universelle: the books on instruments translated by Roger E. Chapman (Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, 1957) -- Original published 1635. A straightforward exposition of theory and construction for the musical instruments of the day: the divisions of the scale, string materials, the sounding-board of the colachone, the "shape, parts, tuning, range and use of the cittern, and the method of dividing its neck to mark on it all the frets". If you want precision authenticity, here it is.

Panum, Hortense. The stringed instruments of the Middle Ages, their evolution and development; a detailed and comprehensive history, with illustrations, of the evolution of the mediaeval stringed musical instruments from their first appearance in the records of the earliest civilisations, through their gradual development in the Greek, Roman and Christian eras down to more recent times. [Translated] from the Danish of Hortense Panum. English ed., rev. and edited by Jeffrey Pulver. London, W. Reeves, [1939?]

Praetorius, Michael, Syntagma Musicum II: de organographia, parts I and II Translated and edited by David Z. Crookes (published as Early Music Series 7 by Oxford University Press, New York, 1991) -- The original was published 1614-1620. The engravings are scaled in Brunswick feet so size and proportions can be taken directly. (The Brunswick foot is 11.235 English inches or 285.36 mm; there are twelve inches to the foot.) Materials, and tunings in ancient musical notation. This book is universally cited; why not get the original?

Ritchie, Jean, The Dulcimer Book. New York: Oak Publications, 1963.

Roberts, Ronald, Musical instruments made to be played (Dryad Press, Leicester, England, 1976) -- instructions and templates for simple instruments of all kinds. Useful for a beginner, little help to the journeyman, none to the master.

Robinson, Trevor, The amateur wind instrument maker (University of Massachusetts Press, 1973) -- Dimensioned plans for wind instruments. A clear and pleasant read -- but the details vanish when you actually try to make something. Useful if you already know woodworking and wind instruments, and want dimensions for something new (and old).

Sloane, Irving, Classic guitar construction (Sterling, New York, 1984) -- Theory and tools of guitar-making. The book goes through the making of a guitar -- but the guitar is the example by which the worker is shown how to make and use the tools. Useful for far more than guitar.

Sloane, Irving, Making musical instruments (E.P. Dutton, New York, 1978) -- Banjo, snare drum, dulcimer, tambourine, Hardanger fiddle, Dolmetsch recorder. A clear book and a good read. The section on the Hardanger fiddle is exhaustive. This is a good book for your first wind instrument; then you would be in better shape to use Robinson's book.

Wake, Harry Seb., A luthier's scrap book (San Diego, CA, 1978) -- Self-published book of notes and speculation on violin construction, tools, finishes. Enjoyable for the journeyman.

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