Having a library of resources is very important and in Lutherie it is critical, at least for me. I started collecting materials related to instrument making, especially books. This began back in 2004 and over the years since then I have accumulated quite a collection. See the Library section for a specific list of titles currently in my library.
There are so many good books out there, and there are a few duds as well. For an aspiring string instrument builder or repair person I would suggest one of the best places to start is with the Big Red books published by the Guild of American Luthiers. There are currently six volumes, which represent all of the articles published since the quarterly journal began publication. So far the BRB’s cover 1985-2002. The amount of information contained in these volumes is ‘vast‘. Check them out, you’ll be glad you did.
But these are not all just technical books of how to do certain things, there are other types of books that belong in the library. Several years ago I acquired a book called “Acquired of the Angels” (see Library) about the lives of two master archtop guitar builds. I have never built an archtop and am not sure I ever will, but the stories are inspirational and the men about whom this book is written are legends in the field. Then I read “Guitar – An American Life” (also in Library), a different kind of book, about a man who ‘loses’ his beloved guitar and sets out to have a custom guitar built. This story is about that journey.
I spend a lot of time reading about instrument building, all kinds, even things I’m not actually going to build. At least I don’t plan on it yet!
In addition to lutherie books I’ve acquired many woodworking books and DVDs. There are so many techniques involved, the more you read and research and learn the better the quality of your work. Trust me. Some lessons are hard to learn, like I used to think I knew what sharp meant, I didn’t! Sharp tools are the most basic and fundamental thing required.