Difficulty of building lute vs. baroque guitar (or guitar in general)

Discussion of all aspects of early instruments, lutes, theorbos, vihuelas, Renaissance guitars and Baroque guitars.
User avatar
tateharmann
Posts: 1138
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:31 pm
Location: Saint Paul, MN

Difficulty of building lute vs. baroque guitar (or guitar in general)

Postby tateharmann » Thu Sep 08, 2016 5:46 pm

So - I realize this my be a rather silly question but I'm curious. Is building a lute more difficult or more easy than building a guitar? Or is it none of the above and just different?

To my untrained eye it looks like a lute has a slightly more simple construction (less carving and bending).

Anyways, I've got a fair amount of woodworking experience and with guitars in general I've done fretwork, finishing, and recently even successfully re-glued a lifting bridge. I will definitely try building an instrument at some point in time (maybe from a kit) - but I already have a guitar so I was thinking maybe building a lute would be the way to go.

Info/speculation/criticism welcome!
2013 Joseph Redman Lutz/Wenge
Antonio Aparicio AA70 Spruce
"I am not fast." - Baymax

simonm
Amateur luthier
Posts: 5926
Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 10:22 am
Location: Germany, Kronberg (near Frankfurt).

Re: Difficulty of building lute vs. baroque guitar (or guitar in general)

Postby simonm » Thu Sep 08, 2016 6:40 pm

I would say it is substantially more difficult. The top is incredibly thin. Mine, if I recall correctly, is about 1.3mm around the edges and 0.9 at the rosette. The rosette alone took me two very long days of work - OK I was very new instrument making at the time. Getting nice tight joins on the ribs along a curved glueing surface is not easy.

I suppose someone who makes lutes for a living will say that it is not all that difficult but there is a steep learning curve. Curiously the black stripes between the strips may actually make life easier rather than more difficult - black lines always help disguise less than perfect glue lines. I didn't do it at the time.

Just getting a decent mold done will take some time.

edit … "substantially more difficult than a regular guitar"
I know nothing about baroque guitars.
Last edited by simonm on Thu Sep 08, 2016 7:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Michael.N.
Posts: 6066
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2007 7:28 am
Location: UK

Re: Difficulty of building lute vs. baroque guitar (or guitar in general)

Postby Michael.N. » Thu Sep 08, 2016 7:04 pm

Rib bending is certainly easier. Rosette certainly requires more skill IMO. Cutting it out isn't the problem, getting it to look as though it's been carved and cut with confidence is another matter. Rib joints can be very tricky. By the time you've done the last rib you are getting the hang of it. Unfortunately by that time your rib structure may not be conforming to the shape of the mould. Not sure I'd bother with a kit. Buy the Van Edwards CD course and some practice wood.
Historicalguitars.

User avatar
tateharmann
Posts: 1138
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:31 pm
Location: Saint Paul, MN

Re: Difficulty of building lute vs. baroque guitar (or guitar in general)

Postby tateharmann » Thu Sep 08, 2016 9:51 pm

Great thanks gents!

How about this one: does less overall material go into building the lute?

And, I suppose I'm referring to a 6c renaissance style lute..

This may sound kind of silly, but I've been looking at very simple lute roses. I don't particularly like elaborate ones, and I'm thinking of doing something very, very...simple. Like a hole. hahahaha

Thanks
2013 Joseph Redman Lutz/Wenge
Antonio Aparicio AA70 Spruce
"I am not fast." - Baymax

User avatar
Michael.N.
Posts: 6066
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2007 7:28 am
Location: UK

Re: Difficulty of building lute vs. baroque guitar (or guitar in general)

Postby Michael.N. » Thu Sep 08, 2016 10:36 pm

Less material, yes. Of course you can simplify it, either a very simple rose or none at all. In it's very simplest form the only real technical difficulty would be the rib joints. There's absolutely no reason why such an instrument shouldn't sound as good as one that was much more involved in terms of decoration. The same of course can be said of the modern guitar. Rosettes, head carving, purfling and even banding do nothing for tone IMO (they don't do any harm either). Trying to persuade people of that fact is another matter.
Historicalguitars.

User avatar
tateharmann
Posts: 1138
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:31 pm
Location: Saint Paul, MN

Re: Difficulty of building lute vs. baroque guitar (or guitar in general)

Postby tateharmann » Fri Sep 09, 2016 12:49 am

Awesome, thanks Michael!

What I'm imagining is actually like a sand dollar rose...if you get what I mean. Just a circle with 4 teardrop shaped holes on the 4 extremities. :)
2013 Joseph Redman Lutz/Wenge
Antonio Aparicio AA70 Spruce
"I am not fast." - Baymax

User avatar
Philipp Lerche
Amateur luthier
Posts: 79
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:06 pm
Location: Germany

Re: Difficulty of building lute vs. baroque guitar (or guitar in general)

Postby Philipp Lerche » Sun Sep 11, 2016 6:56 pm

Hi,

It is definitely more difficult and time consuming to build a lute than a guitar.
Especially when you want it to be nicely round without edges, you'll need about 20 or more ribs.
It is immense work to build a decent lute body. The hard thing is not bending but getting it done gapless.
Overall it is not even lesser carving work or something, even the material costs are higher for me,
but that depends on your wood sources.

I built both guitars and lutes, ouds, buzuq.
I have a fox style bender for guitar sides but the ribs for lutes I do bend per hand.
If you decide for a lute I could give you usefull tips.
"If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done."
Bruce Lee

Best regards
Phil

User avatar
tateharmann
Posts: 1138
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:31 pm
Location: Saint Paul, MN

Re: Difficulty of building lute vs. baroque guitar (or guitar in general)

Postby tateharmann » Mon Sep 12, 2016 6:13 pm

Hi Phil,

Thanks for the info - I'd definitely welcome some more tips :)

I was thinking of doing a more simple 9 rib bowl like this one: http://www.cincinnatiearlymusic.com/medieval_lute.html

I might just buy some wood and practice the bowl making before I do anything else.
2013 Joseph Redman Lutz/Wenge
Antonio Aparicio AA70 Spruce
"I am not fast." - Baymax


Return to “Lutes, Baroque and Renaissance Guitars, etc.”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: CommonCrawl [Bot] and 0 guests