Renaissance Lute

Discussion of all aspects of early instruments, lutes, theorbos, vihuelas, Renaissance guitars and Baroque guitars.
Moderndandy

Renaissance Lute

Postby Moderndandy » Mon May 20, 2013 3:08 am

I'm hoping someone might have some advice here. I've studied classical guitar for many years and I have always been curios about the Lute. I really love Dowland and play a few of his pieces on the guitar with the lute tuning and a capo on the 3rd fret. I'm a pretty devout amateur. My teacher can also teach lute and has warned me of the difficulties of obtaining a Decent Lute. Also, he has let me know there is a bit of a difference between a lute built like a guitar and an actual lute with gut frets and lower tension courses.
I've looked on the lute societies classified but I know nothing of what is a fair price and what is a good lute. I'm hoping maybe someone who has crossed this path before may have some advice. I feel the Renaissance music really hits my soul more than a other music. I know this will cost some Money and time. Any advice appreciated on a Luthier or someone selling a Renaissance lute.

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David_Norton
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Re: Renaissance Lute

Postby David_Norton » Mon May 20, 2013 12:53 pm

Go to The Bay, and search for auction item #360659807373. It's a 7-course renaissance lute, built in 1969, "Bream style". It has metal frets, and a 640mm scale. That makes a very good companion instrument for a guitarist. "True" renaissance lute players generally won't come near to anything of this design, it's considered too long and has non-moveable frets. I had one similar to this in college, 1978-80 or so, and enjoyed it very much.
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Michael.N.
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Re: Renaissance Lute

Postby Michael.N. » Mon May 20, 2013 1:31 pm

There are a number of makers who do 'student Lutes'. They tend to be made without elaborate decoration and quite often feature 'friendly' wood such as Cherry. They play and sound perfectly well. I've come across dozens of them. They range from around £1,000 and up. May seem a lot but when you consider that they are not mass produced and almost certainly made by one maker working alone they really are excellent value. If you can find such an instrument used but in good condition they are even better value.
Historicalguitars.

Moderndandy

Re: Renaissance Lute

Postby Moderndandy » Mon May 20, 2013 2:58 pm

Thanks David, I'm checking that out. While my teacher advised me that I may start out with a Bream style lute as it will be easier to use my current technique.

Moderndandy

Re: Renaissance Lute

Postby Moderndandy » Mon May 20, 2013 3:05 pm

Michael,
Thanks, I understand that this will take some time and money. Anyone in the US that you know of?

Scot Tremblay
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Re: Renaissance Lute

Postby Scot Tremblay » Mon May 20, 2013 4:18 pm

As a long time lute player and guitarist I'd recommend not getting one of the metal fretted instruments. There's really nothing wrong with them for what they are but if you take to the lute I don't think you will find fixed frets satisfactory. There were important reasons that the lute (Vihuel and Baroque guitar as well) had tied movable frets as you will discover as you explore the instrument. It wasn't that the technology to make metal frets didn't exist, see the Orpharion or the Citteron, both sported metal frets. It also had to do with musical temperment or tuning and movable frets were/are perfect for exploring that.

In North America you might want to look at the lutes by Dan Larson. His Fantasia and Recercar Lutes are really excellent value and with a Kingham case (very good quality cases) and oft times shipping in the USA included I don't think you can beat his prices.

He has an 8 course available at the moment for $2950 US including case and shipping. That's a steal, IMO.

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David_Norton
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Re: Renaissance Lute

Postby David_Norton » Mon May 20, 2013 5:15 pm

My own experience with playing lute was that, as a guitarist, I _much_ preferred the metal frets. What Scot says is 100% correct from an historical perspective, and if you decide to abandon the CG in favor of playing lute (as so many others have done), then by all means you'll abso"lute"ly want a tied-fret instrument.

For myself, the tied frets were a damned nuisance. They kept slipping, dependent on changes in humidity. Or, if they'd been tied too tightly during a dry spell and then the neck wood expanded later on, they would break off (usually mid-performance, under stage lighting). And the round back of the lute didn't work whatsoever with my all-too-round belly!

My solution was to get an 8-string altgitarr made (first by Greg Brandt, and later one by Darren Hippner), pitched to G and 570mm scale. This offers the full range of the renaissance lute, at the correct pitch and the correct size for left-hand stretching, plus no issues with wiggly frets, or doubled strings which wouldn't stay in equal tuning all the way up the neck.
David Norton
Salt Lake City, UT

Moderndandy

Re: Renaissance Lute

Postby Moderndandy » Mon May 20, 2013 8:07 pm

Thanks Everyone,
Yes it's tough to figure out if you want to go with a Lute built like a guitar or the real deal.
Let me ask this, how difficult would it be to keep both technique real lute and classical guitar up as on nonprofessional.
Thanks for the info on the Larson Lute, seems reasonable.

Rich

Scot Tremblay
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Re: Renaissance Lute

Postby Scot Tremblay » Mon May 20, 2013 10:50 pm

Moderndandy wrote:...Let me ask this, how difficult would it be to keep both technique real lute and classical guitar up as on nonprofessional.
Rich


I guess I can try to answer that one for you. It depends on a couple things, degree to which you are a nail player (long nails, short nails, inbetween...) and if you choose to play the lute left hand thumb under or more like you play guitar.

Here's what "thumb under" looks like:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8P5CTlGadE

It's sort of the "accepted" historically correct way to play renaissance lute these days. It was largely abandoned by the Baroque era and even during the Renaissance not everyone played this way. The Vihuea players (Luis Milan and friends) right hand position was more like a modern guitarist and anecdotal evidence suggests some very accomplished lutenists didn't either.

Here's a good Baroque lute right hand. It's much closer to the classical guitar RH and it works just fine on the Renaissance...OK, all you hard core traditionalists no flames!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO_jpR04Hfo

Xavier Díaz-Latorre is one of my favorite lute players BTW....

The trick with the lute and other coursed (two strings per pitch) is that you must strike both strings at the same time. This is done by plucking the middle of the course so that both strings sound simultaneously. It's not really as hard as it sounds. If you look at the players fingers in the videos above you will see that the first phalange of the finger collapses more than guitarists (usually). The girl is actually better to watch that Xavier, he is playing the single strung theorbo so it's not quite so necessary.

I use a RH position which attacks the string at a oblique angle not straight on, much like Xaviers hand position. It's a compromise I had to work out for myself as I play mostly 19th century guitar and lutes equally. Ironically, the "historically correct" (I actually hate that phrase...) RH position for 19th century guitar and Baroque lute are hardly different so it's not an issue. Switching from lute to guitar in the middle of a performance can be a slight problem for me unless I don't take a few moments to adjust to the different instruments (Ie. first half of concert lute, second guitar).

On the other hand, I have a friend who plays many different lutes, guitars and Persian instruments professionally and he has the ability to switch his right hand technique, to suit the instrument in the hand, basically at will. I don't know how he does it but it works very well for him.

I do use a little nail, (very short by todays standards) which just peek over the fleshy tips of my fingers but I've always played that way, not quite nail-less. Players who prefer those horses hooves on the ends of their fingers will have an issue playing the lute...many cannot.

So, there's some random thoughts. Hope something there helps.

And finally, here's one more excellent lute/baroque guitar right hand technique...attached to a very charming young lady,Anna Kowalska. Enjoy...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yrg3T7b0qRg
Scot Tremblay Guitars

"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

John Underhill

Re: Renaissance Lute

Postby John Underhill » Mon May 20, 2013 11:10 pm

Whilst I was writing what follows, Scot posted his detailed and comprehensive reply above, but anyway here's what I was about to say:

An important issue, I think, is to what extent you are prepared to change your playing technique in order to play the lute. If you want to use nails and something like a modern guitar technique, then a 'Bream-style' lute will probably suit you better. However if you want to really discover what the lute is all about you will need an 'authentic' style lute played with the approach of the period.
Myself, I abandoned the guitar and guitar technique when I began to play and make lutes. I have recently returned to the guitar, but it is an early Romantic copy, and I play without nails.
I quite agree with Scot about Xavier Diaz- LaTorre, by the way. His playing (on Baroque guitar) was what inspired my return to the guitar!

JohnPierce

Re: Renaissance Lute

Postby JohnPierce » Mon May 20, 2013 11:48 pm

Scot Tremblay wrote:And finally, here's one more excellent lute/baroque guitar right hand technique...attached to a very charming young lady,Anna Kowalska. Enjoy...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yrg3T7b0qRg

:bravo: :bravo: That is an absolutely brilliant piece of music! Thank you, Scot.

Moderndandy

Re: Renaissance Lute

Postby Moderndandy » Wed May 22, 2013 8:01 pm

Everyone thanks for your help,
I probably would not use the Thumb under technique. On the instrument side, I know the Bream style would be more like my guitar technique but it seems like if your gonna play Lute then you should play lute not something that just looks like.
I knew this was going to be hard but that only makes it more rewarding.

Rich

Scot Tremblay
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Re: Renaissance Lute

Postby Scot Tremblay » Wed May 22, 2013 8:22 pm

Hey Rich, I don't know if you're aware of Wayne's Page. It's a good place to find quality used instruments (and info on lutes).

http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/~wbc/lute/lute.html

Look under "Used Lutes". There's a few good used ones available at the moment. The 8 course for 1200 EURO ($1550.00) looks like a nice one. Excellent price!

And here's a good paper by Tristan d’Avignon which might be of interest to you.

http://stdionysius.lochac.sca.org/colle ... tolute.pdf
Scot Tremblay Guitars

"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

Moderndandy

Re: Renaissance Lute

Postby Moderndandy » Wed May 22, 2013 8:52 pm

Thanks Scot, I appreciate your help.

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Michael.N.
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Re: Renaissance Lute

Postby Michael.N. » Wed May 22, 2013 9:09 pm

1200 Euro? That's a lot of Loot for the money. (that one's stood the test of time). It appears to be a bit more elaborate than your average student lute.
Historicalguitars.


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