Scale length of Bream's 1951 Goff lute?

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David Norton
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Scale length of Bream's 1951 Goff lute?

Post by David Norton » Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:13 am

Is the scale length of Bream's 1951 Goff lute known? Just from eyeballing it on the cover of his Westminster "Bream Plays Dowland" LP compared to the guitar shown on his Bach LP from the same era, it seems very close to guitar-size, which we'll presume is 650mm. Are there any other details of the Goff instrument available?
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Catire
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Re: Scale length of Bream's 1951 Goff lute?

Post by Catire » Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:24 am

You could ask here: http://www.schrammguitars.com/rubio_lute.html
Not '51, but close.
"The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible." - Oscar Wilde

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Re: Scale length of Bream's 1951 Goff lute?

Post by David Norton » Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:45 am

Based on photos in Graham Wade's 2008 "Art of Julian Bream" book, the Rubio is definitely a somewhat smaller instrument in all dimensions than the Goff one.
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Re: Scale length of Bream's 1951 Goff lute?

Post by David starbuc2 » Tue Mar 02, 2010 8:03 pm

When Bream played a concert at Ohio State University back in the mid-70s he played the Rubio lute and the Romanillos guitar. After the concert I got to see both side by side. The Rubio scale was definately shorter but not by a whole lot. Didn't think to have a measuring tape with me. I'd guess it was probably around 630-640ish. I think the Goff lute was made from one of those old German Guitarlutes where he hacked off the neck and put on a wider one. The Rubio lute was a major improvement. I'd love to build one like that, but I'd be burned at the stake by the LSA and the HIP folks.
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Re: Scale length of Bream's 1951 Goff lute?

Post by GuitarVlog » Tue Mar 02, 2010 8:10 pm

David starbuc2 wrote: I'd love to build one like that, but I'd be burned at the stake by the LSA and the HIP folks.
We won't tell. :wink:

I think there should be more large lutes with extended scales and metal frets.

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Re: Scale length of Bream's 1951 Goff lute?

Post by David starbuc2 » Tue Mar 02, 2010 8:24 pm

GuitarVlog wrote:
David starbuc2 wrote: I'd love to build one like that, but I'd be burned at the stake by the LSA and the HIP folks.
We won't tell. :wink:

I think there should be more large lutes with extended scales and metal frets.
I always loved the sound that Bream got out of that instrument. For many of us that was the "lute sound" that we grew up with. I'd also like to do a baroque lute with metal frets and guitar saddle type bridge (I can almost visualize the lighter fluid lighting up the coals). Michael Gurian made one years ago for Karl Hereshoff and Karl made one recording with it of some Weiss and Reussner. Same recording also used a "authentically" built instrument for comparison. I wonder what ever happened to it. I've always felt that if you are a guitarist who wants to "dabble" in lute music (and not go the gut strings and no nails route) that these might be a more suitable instrument. You can start some big arguments over this, but it's just my thought. The baroque lute that I have now is very "authentic" except for the nylon strings. I can get a pretty good sound out of it, but my nails are pretty short compared with most guitarists these days.
-David

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Re: Scale length of Bream's 1951 Goff lute?

Post by David Norton » Tue Mar 02, 2010 8:54 pm

David starbuc2 wrote: I'd love to build one like that, but I'd be burned at the stake by the LSA and the HIP folks.
-David
But I'd sure be willing to consider buying one! I am more interested in the repertoire than the HIP niceties involved in gut frets and filament-size strings.
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Re: Scale length of Bream's 1951 Goff lute?

Post by GuitarVlog » Tue Mar 02, 2010 8:58 pm

David starbuc2 wrote:I always loved the sound that Bream got out of that instrument. For many of us that was the "lute sound" that we grew up with. I'd also like to do a baroque lute with metal frets and guitar saddle type bridge (I can almost visualize the lighter fluid lighting up the coals).
IMHO, stifling the development and creation of the Luteous Maximus (a large-scale lute with metal frets) may be a lutenist conspiracy to keep classical guitarists from muscling-in on their territory.
:wink:
But it was also through [Bob Thurston-Dart] that I first came across one of the biggest problems with old music. After a short while of helping me, he suddenly attacked my style of playing, saying it was not the sound which Dowland himself, who was apparently the greatest lute player of all, would have made. Thurston-Dart said that the lute was an intimate, inward instrument, not suited for the concert hall, and thus should be played with the finger tips and not the nails, as I did. By playing it with the nails, he said, I made the lute seem brash. Also I should pluck nearer to the bridge, and avoid the considerable changes of dynamics and tone that were already becoming characteristics of my guitar playing.

His criticism, of course, came from the point of view of considerable scholarship. But there were also the nut-cracker purists who said that my string length was too long, the strings were too thick, and my lute too heavy, and that I shouldn't have used metal frets on the finger-board. Only tied gut could give you the proper sounds. I ask you! I mean, here I was playing music that almost no one had heard for nearly three hundred years, and suddenly out of the woodwork came all these clever-dicks who knew so much more than I did.

- Julian Bream ("A Life On The Road")
For now, we shall have to make do with 11-string guitars where we can affordably find them.

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Re: Scale length of Bream's 1951 Goff lute?

Post by David Norton » Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:20 pm

GuitarVlog wrote:IMHO, stifling the development and creation of the Luteous Maximus (a large-scale lute with metal frets) may be a lutenist conspiracy to keep classical guitarists from muscling-in on their territory.
I've also heard the term Panzerlaute applied to these instruments, perhaps in honor of their Germanic heritage? :)
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Re: Scale length of Bream's 1951 Goff lute?

Post by David Norton » Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:59 am

Completely unrelated to my initial post, one of these inauthentic Bream-inspired "revival period" lutes is on our favorite auction site, Item # 300401868957.
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Re: Scale length of Bream's 1951 Goff lute?

Post by David starbuc2 » Wed Mar 03, 2010 1:54 am

GuitarVlog wrote:
David starbuc2 wrote:I always loved the sound that Bream got out of that instrument. For many of us that was the "lute sound" that we grew up with. I'd also like to do a baroque lute with metal frets and guitar saddle type bridge (I can almost visualize the lighter fluid lighting up the coals).
IMHO, stifling the development and creation of the Luteous Maximus (a large-scale lute with metal frets) may be a lutenist conspiracy to keep classical guitarists from muscling-in on their territory.
:wink:
But it was also through [Bob Thurston-Dart] that I first came across one of the biggest problems with old music. After a short while of helping me, he suddenly attacked my style of playing, saying it was not the sound which Dowland himself, who was apparently the greatest lute player of all, would have made. Thurston-Dart said that the lute was an intimate, inward instrument, not suited for the concert hall, and thus should be played with the finger tips and not the nails, as I did. By playing it with the nails, he said, I made the lute seem brash. Also I should pluck nearer to the bridge, and avoid the considerable changes of dynamics and tone that were already becoming characteristics of my guitar playing.

His criticism, of course, came from the point of view of considerable scholarship. But there were also the nut-cracker purists who said that my string length was too long, the strings were too thick, and my lute too heavy, and that I shouldn't have used metal frets on the finger-board. Only tied gut could give you the proper sounds. I ask you! I mean, here I was playing music that almost no one had heard for nearly three hundred years, and suddenly out of the woodwork came all these clever-dicks who knew so much more than I did.

- Julian Bream ("A Life On The Road")
For now, we shall have to make do with 11-string guitars where we can affordably find them.

One of Bream's great quotes and one of my favorites. If Bream had played the lute like most of the current HIP players do, I don't think there would have been any interest in reviving it. He brought a lot of life and vigor to the music that was sorely missing (and to a large extent, still is). Who's to say lutenists didn't play with a lot of different tone color back then. Even with gut and flesh, it's quite possible to get a good variety of tone color but it's different and not quite as extreme as what we can get with nylon and nails. The performances that do put me to sleep are the ones where the "musicians" play like THEY are 400 years old. If you listen to any (good) renaissance singing, for example any madrigal, there is tone color almost written into the music and how the voices sing. They didn't sing in a monotone way and I don't think they would have played any instrument that way, either.
-David

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Re: Scale length of Bream's 1951 Goff lute?

Post by GuitarVlog » Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:04 am

David_Norton wrote:Completely unrelated to my initial post, one of these inauthentic Bream-inspired "revival period" lutes is on our favorite auction site, Item # 300401868957.
Interesting, and I'd consider it if I had the money to spare. At least the seller provides a 3-day return policy. Worth the risk for anyone with the discretionary cash.

Also wonder if these could be refitted with Peghead tuners. Purists will sneer, but if one is already putting metal frets on it, then one might as well go all the way.

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Re: Scale length of Bream's 1951 Goff lute?

Post by jmardinly » Sat May 14, 2016 7:43 pm

I had Peghead tuners installed in my 1970 Rubio lute by Mel Wong, an excellent San Francisco luthier. My feeling is that the binding of the strings as they pass around the nut kills the advantage that Pegheads could give. However, when I re-install by roller nut (I had taken the roller nut out when I sent the lute to Mel for some other repairs) I believe I will be able to actually make use of the advantages of the Pegheads.
1966 Manuel Velazquez guitar; 1970 David Rubio lute.

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Re: Scale length of Bream's 1951 Goff lute?

Post by jmardinly » Sun May 15, 2016 7:40 pm

On the scale length, according to Graham Wade, the Thomas Goff lute was 'based' on a 'Tieffenbrucker" found in the Victoria and Albert museum. However, the resulting lute was clearly different than an "authentic" lute. Bream was unhappy with the Dolmetsch lutes because the tone was weak and the tactile feel of the strings was "soggy". Tom Goff was a harpsichord maker, not a lute maker, so he could approach the project with an unbiased point of view. It is not clear who came up with the idea of metal frets, a saddle in the bridge and nylon strings, but Bream wanted an instrument that would respond at least as well as a guitar, so there they are. They continued in the Rubio lutes. Ironically, Rubio focused on building harpsichords later in life, supposedly for financial reasons. Lutes just did not bring in a lot of money, whereas harpsichords apparently did better.
1966 Manuel Velazquez guitar; 1970 David Rubio lute.

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Re: Scale length of Bream's 1951 Goff lute?

Post by Scot Tremblay » Sun May 15, 2016 9:35 pm

This might be the one in question. Scroll to near the bottom for dimensional details.

http://www.briancohenguitars.com/sale/breamlute.html
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