The best books about building stringed musical instruments

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been building guitars and related instruments since 1994. My enthusiasm for guitar construction led me to deeply explore all aspects of the art and to share as much information as I can with others via my lutherie information website, writing for American Lutherie, published books, and my research publications. I am fortunate to count myself among those that consider building stringed musical instruments to be one of the best things one can do.


I wrote...

Building the Steel String Acoustic Guitar

By R.M. Mottola,

Book cover of Building the Steel String Acoustic Guitar

What is my book about?

The result of over twenty years of research to identify, catalog, and assess acoustic guitar construction techniques, Building the Steel String Acoustic Guitar is the most comprehensive source of steel string guitar construction information available.

Designed specifically to be accessible to the first-time guitar builder, information is presented as a series of small and well-defined construction operations. Historical information and background theory is provided where appropriate for each of these operations. Construction is presented using tools that most woodworkers already have, supplemented by a minimal set of special-purpose guitar-making tools. The construction techniques make heavy use of simple jigs and fixtures which help achieve precision results. Guitar construction operations that novice builders find to be difficult and confusing are broken down into easy-to-understand parts and are explained in step-by-step detail.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Electric Guitar Making & Marketing: How to build and market high-end instruments, from your workshop's setup to the complete business plan

R.M. Mottola Why did I love this book?

Electric guitars and basses are the most popular stringed musical instruments.

Many players dream of building their own instrument. This book provides step-by-step instructions for doing just that. The author is an enthusiastic builder himself, and is also a teacher of instrument construction.

The book is written in a direct and personal style, and anticipates all of the questions a novice builder will ask. This is amazingly confidence-building. For first-time builders of electric guitars, there is no better place to start than this book.

By Leo Lospennato,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Electric Guitar Making & Marketing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book tells you everything about making electric guitars following professional standards, phase-by-phase, step-by-step.

It's all about leaving your dent in the universe in the shape of the most beautiful, incredibly sounding guitar you can make—that's clear. But building guitars professionally starts before you even cut the wood: You need to setup your workplace, you have to define your identity as guitar maker, and decide the guiding principles of your endeavor as luthier. What kind of guitars will you build? For whom? What is going to be the winning characteristic of your instruments?

And then you have to sell the…


Book cover of The Ukulele: An Illustrated Workshop Manual

R.M. Mottola Why did I love this book?

Ukuleles are very popular instruments and it is no surprise that many people would love to make one for themselves.

This book has all the qualities of a great construction book; attention to detail, clear presentation, and optimal construction techniques. The author has honed these skills over the course of his instrument building career and his career as an author of lutherie (the art of building stringed musical instruments) books.

The book includes links to beautifully drawn downloadable plans for a number of ukuleles. Want to build a ukulele? This is the book to get.

By Graham McDonald,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ukulele as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Ukulele is the first comprehensive book on building all styles of ukulele, from the little soprano ukuleles of 19th century Hawai’i to concert, tenor and baritone sizes. The book will lead the first-time ukulele builder through the various steps of crafting a ukulele with detailed written information complemented by nearly 350 photographs and diagrams. Full size plans of all the ukuleles are available to download and print. A full list of tools, hardware and timber required is included. The first chapters are devoted to making the individual parts of a ukulele. These are followed by chapters which focus on…


Book cover of Making an Archtop Guitar

R.M. Mottola Why did I love this book?

One of the living legends of builders of archtop guitars, Bob Benedetto describes his personal construction methods in this excellent book.

Although some aspects of guitar building are common among all types of guitars, archtop guitars have an architecture that borrows a lot from the violin family. Building this style of instrument offers unique challenges, and this book describes the entire process in exquisite detail. This is where many modern builders of archtop guitars got their start.

By Robert Benedetto,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Making an Archtop Guitar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

(Book). The definitive work on the design and construction of an acoustic archtop guitar, this updated second edition features 288 pages of content, including 24 color pages and 4 tear-outs. See what industry greats have said about this book: "I know of no other work offering comprehensive step by step coverage of the making of an acoustic jazz guitar." George Gruhn "This book is for everyone who loves woodworking, loves guitars, appreciates artistry, and believes that organic materials like spruce, maple and ebony can only achieve their highest function through the hands of a craftsman." Howard Paul "I can think…


Book cover of Dangerous Curves: The Art of the Guitar

R.M. Mottola Why did I love this book?

There is nothing that enhances the process of building guitars more than having a solid foundation in the history of the instrument.

Although there are a number of excellent guitar histories available, few offer as clear and accessible information as this book does. The book is the catalog of a traveling museum show about guitars that was curated by the author at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

It is lavishly illustrated, and contains just the right amount of text on the subject to keep the reader engaged. No builder of stringed musical instruments should be without this book.

By Darcy Kuronen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dangerous Curves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The guitar and the dog, in order not to be separated from man, have submitted themselves with resignation to the worst alterations of size and appearance." Andres Segovia


Book cover of Technology of the Guitar

R.M. Mottola Why did I love this book?

Most builders of stringed musical instruments desire some information about how the instruments they build actually produce sound.

The problem of producing a book on the subject is that it is highly technical and as such largely inaccessible. Mark French’s work expertly addresses this issue. The result is a work that is as accessible as possible and also complete and technically accurate.

The author has the perfect background for a work like this. He is a professor of engineering technology, and he uses guitar design and construction as the basis of teaching his highly popular courses on STEM subjects.

By Richard Mark French,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Technology of the Guitar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Featuring chapters on physics, structure, sound and design specifics, Technology of the Guitar also includes coverage of historical content, composition of strings and their effects on sound quality, and important designs. Additionally, author Mark French discusses case studies of historically significant and technologically innovative instruments.

This is a complete reference useful for a broad range of readers including guitar manufacturer employees, working luthiers, and interested guitar enthusiasts who do not have a science or engineering background.


You might also like...

Act Like an Author, Think Like a Business: Ways to Achieve Financial Literary Success

By Joylynn M Ross, Falessia Booker (editor),

Book cover of Act Like an Author, Think Like a Business: Ways to Achieve Financial Literary Success

Joylynn M Ross

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Act Like an Author, Think Like a Business is for anyone who wants to learn how to make money with their book and make a living as an author. Many authors dive into the literary industry without taking time to learn the business side of being an author, which can hinder book sales and the money that can be made as an author.

This resource serves as a guide to mastering the art of financial literary success and to help avoid the mistakes that many authors make while learning the ropes on their own. This book helps authors “think outside the book” in order to make money in ways other than book sales and create multiple streams of literary income.

Act Like an Author, Think Like a Business: Ways to Achieve Financial Literary Success

By Joylynn M Ross, Falessia Booker (editor),

What is this book about?

Do you want to make money with your book? Do you want to make a living as an author? There’s more to doing so than simply writing and publishing your book. Many authors dive into the literary industry without taking time to learn the business side of being an author. This could dramatically hinder your book sales and the money you can make as an author. Without a guide such as this, mastering the art of financial literary success can take you years, and you’ll be sure to make mistakes during the learning phase. Some mistakes could cost you money;…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in guitar, engineering, and marketing?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about guitar, engineering, and marketing.

Guitar Explore 32 books about guitar
Engineering Explore 620 books about engineering
Marketing Explore 187 books about marketing