Lute family instruments
On this page I have set out brief descriptions of some of the designs I use for the instruments I make.
This is not a comprehensive list of the instruments in my repertoire, but a selection of some of those more commonly asked about. I have given examples of suitable materials, but these are only suggestions and I am happy to discuss alternatives. If more details are required for instruments not covered here, please ask.
Photos of most of the instrument types mentioned here are in the gallery. Links are at the top and bottom of the page.
Guitar notes...

6 course lute

String length 60cm.
Design based on lute by Magno Dieffopruchar, Venice c.1550, now in a private collection.
Back of nine ribs in any of the following woods: bird's eye maple, rippled maple / sycamore / ash, European / American cherry.
Plain neck, pegbox and fittings. A shorter instrument for tuning in a is described under the '7 and 8 course lutes' heading. Other string lengths of 6 course instruments are, of course, available
The original instrument is made in ivory and has an estimated string length of 64.5cm (the original position of the bridge is not certain).
I have reduced the size to give a string length of 60cm to make a very effective 6 course lute in g at A440Hz. I also use this back for student lutes with 6 or 7 courses.

7 and 8 course lutes

String length 53cm.
My own design based on the Paduan style of around 1600. Tuned to a.
Backs in yew, bird's eye maple, rippled maple/sycamore/ash or European/American cherry with 11 ribs. For 7/8 course versions, I would recommend yew.

String lengths 60 and 67cm.
Designs based on lutes by Wendelio Venere, Padua c.1590.
There are several fine lutes surviving in good condition by this maker. For broad rib backs (15 ribs) I use an instrument in the Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna. (No. C36). This instrument is a good example of lutes of this period and is used as a model by many makers. It is made in yew. I have scaled down the original string length from 67 to 60cm to give a g lute alternative.
For customers who would like a multi-rib back there is another fine model to use in the museum in Bologna. A smaller lute made in 1592 with a back of 25 ribs. This model suits seven courses in g especially well. My preferred material is yew for the body with neck and pegbox veneers in ebony.
Soundboard points and half edging are standard.

Bass lute in d

String length 80cm.
For a large broad rib model I use a back made by Laux Maler now in the V&A Museum, London. Although it would have had only 6 courses, these instruments were highly prized, and would certainly have been converted to seven or eight courses as required. Backs in bird's eye maple, rippled maple/sycamore/ash or European/American cherry are available.

11 course baroque lute

String lengths 68 to 71cm.
Instrument based on a lute by Hans Frei now in the Warwick County museum. The lute would have been made C.1560 and has been rebuilt as an eleven course instrument. Maple, rippled ash etc. are good woods for this instrument's 11 rib back.
This instrument makes a good choice for a French style 11 course lute. If a German instrument is preferred, there is a good surviving example by Hoffman in the Brussels museum.

13 course baroque lute

String lengths 73 to 77cm.
Broad ribbed, swan neck style lute, based on an original by J.C. Hoffman in the Horniman Museum, London. Rippled or bird's eye maple is preferred for these instruments.
Multi-ribbed model with treble rider, based on the work of Burkholtzer and an unknown converter. There are several conversions of earlier, multi-rib backed, instruments to 13 course lutes by later German makers such as Thomas Edlinger and Leopald Widhelm. I would normally make multi-rib backs of this type in yew.


String length 67cm. Diapasons 142cm.
Based on an example by Magno Dieffopruchar, Venice, c.1600, now in Vienna Kunsthistoriches Museum. No. C45. This instrument is a good example of a long necked archlute. The back is made in yew with a 31 rib back. Ebony and snakewood could be alternatives. I can offer various alternative detailing on the neck veneers. The price list assumes no decoration other than the veneers themselves.

Chittarone / theorbo

String length 83cm. Diapasons 145cm.
My model for a theorbo (or chittarone) is based again on the work of Venere. The instrument (C47 Vienna. c.1610) is not well preserved except for the back. The details of the necks have been derived from other instruments from this period, principally another theorbo by Venere, now in the Paris museum.
Once again, yew is the preferred wood for this instrument, although ebony, rosewood and even snakewood are possible.
Again, various options are available for the neck veneering.

Guitar notes...

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