My name is Neal Carey and yes, I am an amateur instrument maker (a luthier) and woodworker. I dabble in instrument building and restoration as well as occasional furniture construction, repairs and restoration, and sometimes even home improvements.

You can see examples of my work on this blog, here:

The Harpsichord Project – building a 1640 Andreas Ruckers harpsichord

Pau Hana ‘Ukulele – ‘ukulele construction, mandolin restoration

and at this section on this website (now part of this blog):

Boston Balalaika Workshop (Perestroika) – detailed account of a balalaika reconstruction and other balalaika-related projects


Guild of American Luthiers


Musical Instrument Makers Forum


Eastern Massachusetts Guild of Woodworkers (EMGW)

9 Responses to About

  1. Kevin says:

    Hi Neal, So glad to find your blog! We have a lot in common. We are about the same age and I am also enjoying lutherie as a retirement hobby. I have built 10 acoustic guitars, 2 solid body basses, 3 hammer dulcimers, 2 long neck fretted dulcimers, just finishing my second Venezuelan Cuatro. I have been wanting to build a Balalaika and it just moved to the front burner. Ordered Flynn’s book today and can’t wait to get started. I will keep you in mind if I get stumped.
    Kevin Harding’
    Aloha, OR

    • npcarey says:

      Thanks Kevin. Glad you found me. This has been a labor of love for a long time, although I’m not putting in a lot of time on it at the moment, busy doing major house renovations! There is a page in particular that you should look at here on the blog:


      You’ll find quite a few links to PDF files. I’d strongly recommend you read the Prince article:

      Click to access building_a_balalaika_william_prince.pdf

      and my translation of ““Manufacture and repair of stringed musical instruments”, Authors: N. A. Komarov, S. N. Fedyunin”

      Click to access the_construction_and_repair_of_balalaikas.pdf

      which is *far* more detailed than the info in either Flynn or Prince. Although give Flynn his due, it was seminal and it is one of the first books I got. Then I later learned, after paying someone $20 for a xerox copy of it, that is was available free as PDF from the Guild of American Luthiers. There are a number of other resources on this blog page.

      Good luck with your building. Are you blogging about it? Pictures of your work? Robbie O’Brien (guitar building in Colorado, prolific publisher on YouTube) has a great number of online courses and has a great invitation only forum on instrument building (mostly guitars and ‘ukes). Check him out. “Luthier Tips Du Jour” is the easiest way to find him.

  2. Kevin says:

    Thanks for pointing me to a lot of good information. I am a bit overwhelmed right now but I still think it is a great challenge and a worthwhile project. I have read through the Prince article a couple times. It is a little confusing in that the pages seem to be a bit jumbled up and the figures referenced aren’t always there but I have learned a lot from it. The translated work is, indeed, a lot of information. I haven’t made it all they way through that one yet. Unfortunately, they Flynn book doesn’t seem to be available online for free anymore. But I found one on Amazon for $9.99 so I am OK with that. I just have to wait a few days.
    I am familiar with Robbie O’Brien, I have watched many of his videos and saw him speak at the GAL convention this year. Any chance you were there?
    I do have a blog but currently it only addresses my interest in genealogy. Perhaps I should start another one about my shop projects.

  3. npcarey says:

    Kevin, the Flynn book is still available on the GAL site as a .pdf :

    Click to access Flynn_Balalaika-GAL.pdf

  4. Kevin says:

    Hi Neal,
    It has been nearly three months since I started looking into building a balalika and you directed me to some great resources. The project has been very challenging, but I have made enough progress that I am finally willing to post some pictures at kevinharding.blog.

  5. npcarey says:

    Kevin, enjoyed looking through your blog. Your balalaika is coming along great. Keep at it. I’ll send you a private email with some other info.

  6. Erica says:

    Hi Neal,
    My son is interested in balalaika lessons – he’s 16. Any idea where we could find someone in the Boston area who could teach him?

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