Lute General Questions

Discussion of all aspects of early instruments, lutes, theorbos, vihuelas, Renaissance guitars and Baroque guitars.
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Michael.N.
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Re: Lute General Questions

Post by Michael.N. » Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:13 am

Well SW Colorado is noted for giving guitars problems, especially those that have been constructed outside of the area. I made the guitar in as low a humidity environment as I could. I don't think it was the method of attaching the bridge because I used a caul and clamp, which is standard. These things happen. I'd be extremely surprised if there is a single maker in the world who has never had some type of problem occur at some point.
BTW. I paid for the repair to be done. Wasn't cheap but I paid for it. I even got charged for removing the bridge, which seemed rather odd to me.
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RobMacKillop
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Re: Lute General Questions

Post by RobMacKillop » Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:20 am

I understand, Michael. It's certainly a difficult place for guitars. I feel sorry for both of you.

Bill B
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Re: Lute General Questions

Post by Bill B » Sat Jan 14, 2017 5:40 am

RobMacKillop wrote:Nigel North is my favourite lute player, but I raised an eyebrow at that quotation. Isn't it a little too convenient that the string tuned to exactly F at 415? And how did he know it would break at 416?
the quote about just tuning the first string up as high as you (think you) can is legit, i believe. i forget where i first heard it, but it wasn't Nigel North. i will see if i can find it. Playford maybe, in "the art of music?"
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RobMacKillop
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Re: Lute General Questions

Post by RobMacKillop » Sat Jan 14, 2017 8:12 am

I know it's "legit", but from a beginner's book. It's not an indication of what professionals were doing.

Ryeman
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Re: Lute General Questions

Post by Ryeman » Sat Jan 14, 2017 9:42 am

I used to send quite a few lutes to California, and talk of the hot dry dessicating Santa Ana wind in that area used to have me worried, as the lute has 7 or 8 transverse bars glued across the front, almost inviting the front to crack if it shrinks. So I got my own little Santa Ana wind in my workshop - an electric fan heater. When the bars were all prepared and ready to be glued in place, I would hold the lute front in front of the heater for about five minutes. If the front hadn't been cut dead on the quarter you would see it bow slightly as it shrunk across the grain. Then I would quickly glue the transverse bars in place, ina special jig made for the job. Sounds a bit hairy, I know, but it seemed to work.


Alan

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Michael.N.
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Re: Lute General Questions

Post by Michael.N. » Sat Jan 14, 2017 11:07 am

It's not just cracks that low humidity can cause. There's a factor with low humidity and bridges lifting or flying off, not the only factor but certainly one of the main causes. I know this from visiting the Early Music shop over many, many years. They didn't have humidity control and sometimes I would see the odd instrument with the bridge dangling at the end of a whole set of strings. It took me many years to figure it out but one day I realised that these 'events' were all happening during very cold winter spells. In fact one day I went in and there were two instruments with bridges that had come off. It is all very logical when you think about it. We have strings pulling at a tension of say 45 KG. Then low humidity happens, we have one type of wood for the bridge and another type of wood for the soundboard. They are both glued with their grain facing different directions. The decrease in humidity means that both those woods are going to move at a different rate (kind of the bi metallic strip concept). The result is that the 45 Kg of string tension is effectively increased with these two types of wood fighting each other.
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Ryeman
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Re: Lute General Questions

Post by Ryeman » Sat Jan 14, 2017 4:33 pm

Michael, was this the Early Music Shop in Bradford? I used to sell lutes to them, and remember they once had a bizarre problem with a pigeon. It somehow got in the shop overnight and did a lot of damage by knocking a number of instruments over. Michael Wood contacted me to ask if I could repair one of my lutes which had a hole in one of it's ribs, caused by it falling onto a drum...
Ever mindful of the possible damage caused by errant pigeons, I used to keep a scrap box of bits of wood left over from instruments, and I managed to find a matching piece of wood to make a floating patch.

Alan

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Michael.N.
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Re: Lute General Questions

Post by Michael.N. » Sat Jan 14, 2017 5:14 pm

Yes, same place. They have moved a few times throughout their history. I'm old enough that I can go back to the original place. Richard? Wood separated from them several years ago. I think he is still involved in selling early instruments, I guess he's into his 80's now. He was the chap who gave the well know violin maker Roger Hargrave his first taste of musical instrument making. Roger told me he was doing some of the painted decorations on harpsichords, that was before he went to Newark to do violin making, mid '70's.
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Ryeman
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Re: Lute General Questions

Post by Ryeman » Sat Jan 14, 2017 6:06 pm

Michael, it was Richard Wood who talked me into becoming a full-time lutemaker. At the time I was teaching art 5 days a week, making 3 or 4 lutes a year, some of which went to the Early Music Shop, and generally getting on with the rest of my life like going fishing once a week and making the odd split-cane fishing rod. Then Michael Wood gave me an order for 12 lutes. I explained my circumstances to him and said it would be 3 or 4 years before I could complete the order. He told me to give up teaching and build lutes full-time. So I did. That was in 1975. I never regretted it.

Alan

Ryeman
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Re: Lute General Questions

Post by Ryeman » Sun Jan 15, 2017 12:20 pm

Michael.N. wrote:It's not just cracks that low humidity can cause. There's a factor with low humidity and bridges lifting or flying off, not the only factor but certainly one of the main causes. I know this from visiting the Early Music shop over many, many years. They didn't have humidity control and sometimes I would see the odd instrument with the bridge dangling at the end of a whole set of strings. It took me many years to figure it out but one day I realised that these 'events' were all happening during very cold winter spells. In fact one day I went in and there were two instruments with bridges that had come off. It is all very logical when you think about it. We have strings pulling at a tension of say 45 KG. Then low humidity happens, we have one type of wood for the bridge and another type of wood for the soundboard. They are both glued with their grain facing different directions. The decrease in humidity means that both those woods are going to move at a different rate (kind of the bi metallic strip concept). The result is that the 45 Kg of string tension is effectively increased with these two types of wood fighting each other.
Michael, do you think the problem you describe is worse with ebony and rosewood bridges? I used sycamore for most of my lute bridges, and didn't have the problem you have described. But it seems that rosewood and ebony bridges lift off guitars fairly regularly, despite having a bigger gluing area than a lute bridge.

Alan

kefroeschner
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Re: Lute General Questions

Post by kefroeschner » Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:33 pm

re: gluing bridges sans clamps: I replaced the bridge on a Washburn C80s using just finger pressure (and yes, for an agonizingly long time!) as reported by Anthony N. Used Titebond III. No problems.
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Michael.N.
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Re: Lute General Questions

Post by Michael.N. » Wed Jan 25, 2017 12:19 pm

Ryeman wrote:
Michael.N. wrote:It's not just cracks that low humidity can cause. There's a factor with low humidity and bridges lifting or flying off, not the only factor but certainly one of the main causes. I know this from visiting the Early Music shop over many, many years. They didn't have humidity control and sometimes I would see the odd instrument with the bridge dangling at the end of a whole set of strings. It took me many years to figure it out but one day I realised that these 'events' were all happening during very cold winter spells. In fact one day I went in and there were two instruments with bridges that had come off. It is all very logical when you think about it. We have strings pulling at a tension of say 45 KG. Then low humidity happens, we have one type of wood for the bridge and another type of wood for the soundboard. They are both glued with their grain facing different directions. The decrease in humidity means that both those woods are going to move at a different rate (kind of the bi metallic strip concept). The result is that the 45 Kg of string tension is effectively increased with these two types of wood fighting each other.
Michael, do you think the problem you describe is worse with ebony and rosewood bridges? I used sycamore for most of my lute bridges, and didn't have the problem you have described. But it seems that rosewood and ebony bridges lift off guitars fairly regularly, despite having a bigger gluing area than a lute bridge.

Alan
Probably. I don't think there's much doubt that medium density hardwoods are a bit easier to glue than the denser exotics. I don't know if it's the oily nature of these woods or because of their dense structure. Let's be careful though. I've only ever had one guitar bridge come off (that I know of). When I worked in repair I used to see them regularly but most were cheap instruments glued with PVA. We know that PVA creeps, it's even admitted by the glue manufacturers. That's not to say that all bridges that are glued with PVA are going to fly off. It's probably a number of factors but the conditions in which the instruments are kept is certainly a factor.
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Ryeman
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Re: Lute General Questions

Post by Ryeman » Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:07 pm

Michael, speaking of oily woods, the most oily exotic hardwood I ever came across was Leadwood, incredibly heavy stuff which I believe is African in origin. I got some from Craft Supplies in Millersdale, to make the wooden handle of a laminated fibreglass American Flat Bow. It was going to be bit of a joke. The shooting rules for AFB prevent you using lead in the handle to stabilise the bow. But here was a way to have lead in the handle legally.
The whole thing backfired on me. Leadwood turned out to be so oily that I couldn't glue it with an epoxy, either to the Yew wood core, or the fibreglass... I ended up using Indian Rosewood, which worked fine, and after fifteen years hard use, out in all weathers, hasn't de-laminated.

Alan

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Michael.N.
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Re: Lute General Questions

Post by Michael.N. » Wed Jan 25, 2017 9:46 pm

Off topic but I have a couple of bows in storage (they don't belong to me). One is a laminated bow that I helped out with, fiddle maker friend but he had become interested in all things traditional archery. The other is a Biickerstaffe? that came in for repair, it had fractured just before the nook. Both these bows are maple on walnut. No idea if the repair will be successful. I've had it for a few years and the chap that owns it keeps threatening to collect it. We bought the wood for the laminated bow from Boddy's, which I've heard is no more. We also took a trip to Millersdale but not for bow making purposes.
Did you ever make a baroque lute? I have the plans for one (and the wood) but it just never seems to happen. It must have been 10 years ago that I bought the van Edwards plan/cd ! Somehow I can make a renaissance lute armed with little knowledge or resources but I can't bring myself to make a baroque lute when I now have all the resources that anyone could wish for - I bought the Lundberg book too, but that was after my renaissance lute.
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Ryeman
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Re: Lute General Questions

Post by Ryeman » Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:36 am

Michael, yes I have made a few Baroque lutes; ten in fact, mostly based on the 13 course J C Hoffmann -Leipzig 1730- in the Brussels Cons. catalogue no 3188. I have a very useful outline drawing of this, done by Steven Murphy I think, which shows all the string geometry relating to the bass rider etc. All the things that may be putting you off, being more complicated than that found on a typical Renaiisance & or 10 course lute. You can have a copy if I can get it printed, though you probably have all the information you need from van Edwards. What is it specifically that's stopping you making one?

Pip Bickerstaffe is still making longbows as far as I know. I knew him years ago when I lived not far from him. Shot in competitions with him a few times, and I have his book on making longbows. Hope your repair holds up..

Alan

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