My next Papazian project - a vihuela

Discussion of all aspects of early instruments, lutes, theorbos, vihuelas, Renaissance guitars and Baroque guitars.
RWHowe
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My next Papazian project - a vihuela

Postby RWHowe » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:45 am

When Manouk Papazian passed away he left behind a cache of instruments. Manouk's son sold a few over the years and then the lot was purchased my a college music professor. In the lot of instruments were a few vihuelas.
My project is to get one of the vihuelas up and running. The vihuelas were built but never strung up. The body still needs to be level sanded and polished. Tuners need to be installed as well as a nut. There is a label inside the instrument. The label is dated 1974 and signed by Manouk.

Enjoy the pictures.

Russ
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RWHowe
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Re: My next Papazian project - a vihuela

Postby RWHowe » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:47 am

A few more pics
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petermc61
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Re: My next Papazian project - a vihuela

Postby petermc61 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 2:10 am

Russ

The thing I can't understand is why Manouk had do many almost finished instruments of different build dates just sitting around when he passed away. Do you have any insight into why? I would also be curious how many instruments in total, both guitars and vijeulas, might have been in that stash.

Regards
Peter

petemeyersguitar

Re: My next Papazian project - a vihuela

Postby petemeyersguitar » Thu Feb 07, 2013 2:38 am

Stunning. What a great find!

David LaPlante
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Re: My next Papazian project - a vihuela

Postby David LaPlante » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:06 am

That's a great question Peter,
There is a claim out there on the internet that Papazian made 800 or 900 instruments which seems like a lot in what was essentially a 25 year (1956-1981) career.
Perhaps this also includes the guitars he made in Buenos Aires prior to 1956 as well.

In looking over a number of the guitars as well as his tools and component parts it is apparent that he used (to his advantage) machine tools to produce things like bridges, pegheads, footed blocks etc. These parts are consistant to the point that I very much doubt that he produced them by hand methods.
It is also apparent that his sides were bent on a machine (probably quite similar to the one shown in the Sloane book) and not by hand seeing that a number of the rejected sets showed marks in the same location from the screws used to hold the metal sheet over the form.
His rosettes also look like they were inlaid into a circular rebate made using several passes of an overhead milling machine. Bits for these as well as metal lathe cutters (for his lute pegs) and other machinist tools were present in the lot which I acquired along with the rosette materials.
This all supports the assertion that he was indeed prolific (and most likely worked very hard by today's standards) and I suspect when he retired he lost his facility in which to produce the component parts and assemble the instruments but was able to amass a number of instruments which he set aside to finish at his apartment during his retirement. His 401K so to speak.
This does not diminish his very fine sense of aesthetics as well as the really superior choice of wood found on his guitars.

Scot Tremblay
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Re: My next Papazian project - a vihuela

Postby Scot Tremblay » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:17 am

Wow, strange instrument. Kind of a cross between a vihuela, baroque guitar, lute, Viennese early romantic...

It's going to be cool to see and hear that one when you have it finished.
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Michael.N.
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Re: My next Papazian project - a vihuela

Postby Michael.N. » Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:18 am

They didn't look like that in the 16 th century but it's a perfect copy for the 1970's.
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Stephen Faulk
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Re: My next Papazian project - a vihuela

Postby Stephen Faulk » Thu Feb 07, 2013 8:38 pm

It joins at the 8th fret instead of the 11th, that is a big problem for many reasons. It looks pretty much like the Bream/Rubio lute style from the early 70's.
Patience at the bending iron pays in rounded dividends!

jfdana

Re: My next Papazian project - a vihuela

Postby jfdana » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:10 pm

The Bream & Rubio connection seems likely. Papazian and Rubio were in the same place at the same time. And I do know that Bream knew Papazian as he (Bream) actually picked up a guitar of mine from Papazian after a NY concert (Papazian had repaired a top crack) and brought it to his Boston concert after which I picked it up in the Green Room. I was a scared-to-death 19 year old and he was the perfectly gracious gentleman.

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Re: My next Papazian project - a vihuela

Postby Scot Tremblay » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:22 pm

The vihuela above has a passing resemblance to the "Quito Vihuela" as well. I'm not sure when the Quito was identified as a vihuela but perhaps Papazian was aware of it in the early 1970's...who knows?

Stephen Faulk wrote:It joins at the 8th fret instead of the 11th, that is a big problem for many reasons.


Most early renaissance lutes join the neck to the body at about the 8th - 9th fret so it looks to me like that's what Papazian may have been thinking (I'm just guessing at his thoughts). For the vihuela and early renaissance 6 course lute repertoire, I don't think it would be a problem at all to have the join at the 8th. My main renaissance lute joins neck to body at the 8th fret and for 90% of the entire renaissance lute repertoire including the vihuela, I don't even have a hint of any issue. For some of the later material which appears to have been intended for the longer string length, F or F# tuned lute and joins at the 10th fret, there may be a bit of an awkward left hand movement when fretting the higher notes on the shorter neck instrument but one is probably not going to be playing that repertoire on the vihuela anyways.

The thing that would be the deal breaker for me with this instrument is the fixed frets...there goes all the wonderful meantone temperments! :?

Present day renditions of the vihuela end the frets at about the 10th fret. And from iconographic evidence this would appear to be historically correct. Often they look like they join the body at the 11th or 12th, but as none of the extant vihuela music really goes higher than the 10th fret it's usually not necessary to continue the frets beyond that.

Check out the work of Alexander Batov for a good indication of what the original designs may have looked like. Alexander has spent a great deal of time and energy researching the early vihuela so I'd venture to say, he's probably the best resource for the instrument that we have today.

http://www.vihuelademano.com/
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"One picture is worth a thousand words. So, for me, one good note put where it should be put, will say what it will take some people many notes to say. ~B.B. King, 1986

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Michael.N.
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Re: My next Papazian project - a vihuela

Postby Michael.N. » Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:07 pm

I'm just finishing one. I think it joins at the 10 and a half fret. I'll know for certain when I put the frets on :o It's higher than 8
that's for sure. After that link I don't think I'll bother posting a pic.
I'd be surprised if Papazian was aware of the Quito. I've seen a number of Vihuelas (and Lutes) that were made in the '70's and many seem to be based partly on Guitars (esp. Baroque), with a modern twist to them. Hence the metal frets and the seemingly heavy soundboard varnish. The Papazian looks closer to late French baroque Guitars in it's style. At least it does to my eye.
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Adam S. Vernon

Re: My next Papazian project - a vihuela

Postby Adam S. Vernon » Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:17 pm

The Viola da Mano is stunning. That thing is a work of art.

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Stephen Faulk
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Re: My next Papazian project - a vihuela

Postby Stephen Faulk » Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:24 pm

I've built a few vihuelas myself and it is a big problem if the they join at the 10th because it's difficult to tie the 10th fret. Joining at the 11th make more sense. In Juan Bermudo's On playing the Vihuela written in 1550 it clearly shows the vihuela joining at the 11th fret with ten frets clear on the neck. And other sources cite ten frets on the neck.

Joining anywhere else also puts the bridge in the wrong place on the body if you follow the ratios in iconography and other texts. Although some makers like Daniel Larson join the neck at the 12th fret just because it gives more neck access. You have to lengthen the body about a 1/2" to do that. I think Batov was a relative late comer who did some work, but the historical instrument was pretty much researched well and settled before he published on his own. And most of his foundational work is based on or taken from the work of others. Stephen Barber, Klaus Jacobsen and Stephen Gottlieb got there long before Batov, but Batov seems to be somewhat a of sensationalist about his own research IMO. I think Stephen Gottlieb and the London /English based lute makers defined the historical instrument much better and much earlier. Then enter the research done by Stephen Barber on the Chambure' vihuela and there emerges a development in vihuela design different from early iconographic sources. The Chambure' has become trendy,but the earlier renditions of the vihuela are still valid. I like to see credit in this area go to Gottlieb, Jacobsen and Barber,who really made the break from the guitar based vihuela versions.

This Papazian instrument, as lovely a intriguing as it is, is really more of a guitar than a vihuela. It fits perfectly with the trend in the 1970's to tailor a classical guitar geometry, stringing, fingerboard, saddle bridge etc. onto a vihuelaish body. Instruments like this were like the Bream /Rubio lute were constrocted to be a compromise between an early looking instrument and a classical guitar that could be played with modified classical guitar technique, and probably with finger nails. The double courses on more historically based vihuela reconstructions would not respond to classical guitar technique, so these half/half solutions were made. The "vihuela" that Pujol played was one of this type of instrument. And in 1974 the nitty gritty of what a vihuela may have actually been like was not really worked out yet and it was a few years later that Klaus Jacobsen and Gottlieb started making more accurate reconstructions that could be played with lute technique.

Looking at every thing on this instrument makes me think it is actually more like a six course Spanish /Italian guitar from the beginning if the 19th century. Like those made by Benedid etc. But of course the intention was to make vihuela; it certainly deserves to be strung up and finished.

It reminds me of the time travel Star Trek Next Generation episode where Mr. Warf the Klingon meets some Klingons from the first Star Trek original show and they look really different from Mr.Warf. When asked why renditions of Klingons look more like humans than later Klingons, he growls and says " We don't like to talk about it!"
Patience at the bending iron pays in rounded dividends!

Scot Tremblay
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Re: My next Papazian project - a vihuela

Postby Scot Tremblay » Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:49 pm

I hope you do post some photos when you're finished your vihuela, Michael. I for one would like to see it. I've made a couple of them for myself but have yet to be satisfied enough with the sound to give up playing the vihuela repertoire on my lute.

Stephen Faulk wrote:I've built few vihuelas myself and it is big problem if the they join at the 10th because it's difficult to tie the 10th fret. Joining at the 11th make more sense. In Juan Bermudo's On playing the Vihuela written in 1550 it shows the vihuela joining at the 11th fret with ten frets clear on the neck.


Ok, now I understand Stephen. I was thinking from a players point of view (and with the fixed frets), where the neck joins the body is not much of an issue IMO. From a makers point of view, I totally agree.

Stephen Faulk wrote:...started making more accurate reconstructions that could be played with lute technique.


Hmmm, that brings up a problem too. It seems to be pretty clear from recent research sources that the vihuela was not played with the thumb under lute technique but more of a later baroque lute or more modern guitar thumb out technique. If that is indeed the case then some of our assumptions concerning the instruments may have been inaccurate (ie. string spacings....).
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"One picture is worth a thousand words. So, for me, one good note put where it should be put, will say what it will take some people many notes to say. ~B.B. King, 1986

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Michael.N.
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Re: My next Papazian project - a vihuela

Postby Michael.N. » Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:16 am

I've measured my Vihuela. As I suspected it's between frets 10 and 11. The problem with tying fret 10 is the rounded transition from Neck to heel. Do a mitre joint and it can eliminate the problem. You can always use a fixed fret or notch the edge of the fretboard.
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