Shop prototype for a Vihuela

Discussion of all aspects of early instruments, lutes, theorbos, vihuelas, Renaissance guitars and Baroque guitars.
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Stephen Faulk
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Shop prototype for a Vihuela

Post by Stephen Faulk » Tue Jul 09, 2013 10:24 am

I've been working on a vihuela model and used some left overs from other projects to prototype it. I wanted to see now the plantilla and scale work together with the top thicknesses. I made it rather quickly and did not pull out all the stops on some parts. I'm finishing up the fingerboard and them making a bridge and setting the pegs. It's a working model and I hope it pans out to develop into a model to offer.

In this vihuela I'm interested in making an earlier version of the vihuela. It's my own design, but loosely based on the illustrations from Juan Bermudo's book On Playing the Vihuela from 1554 and a few other illustration showing longer less wide vihuelas than the Chambure', which has gotten so much attention the last ten years.

It has a 60 cm scale and the body is 420 mm long. The body as neck join at the 11th fret so there will be ten tied frets on the neck. I did not have a good water color paper at the time I made the rose so it might look a bit coarse, when I work out the model I'll do something more intricate. Other than that I'm happy with it for what it is, I am anxious to hear it!
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Last edited by Stephen Faulk on Tue Jul 09, 2013 1:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Patience at the bending iron pays in rounded dividends!

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Stephen Faulk
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Re: Shop prototype for a Vihuela

Post by Stephen Faulk » Tue Jul 09, 2013 10:27 am

The bee stings.
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Patience at the bending iron pays in rounded dividends!

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Stephen Faulk
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Re: Shop prototype for a Vihuela

Post by Stephen Faulk » Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:38 am

Almost over the finish line, a few more days. Here are the back and sides. The sides are Honey Locust, the back is Claro Walnut.
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Doug Ingram
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Re: Shop prototype for a Vihuela

Post by Doug Ingram » Wed Jul 10, 2013 2:44 pm

You're not the only one anxious to hear about your results!

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romanticguitars
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Re: Shop prototype for a Vihuela

Post by romanticguitars » Fri Jul 12, 2013 2:12 am

That's very, very nice! What strings will you use?
"Lean your body forward slightly to support the guitar against your chest, for the poetry of the music should resound in your heart." Segovia

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Stephen Faulk
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Re: Shop prototype for a Vihuela

Post by Stephen Faulk » Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:55 am

I'll be stringing it up with Savarez trebles and Aquila copper over wound basses. The reason, every early music player has a string combination they favor and I don't try to second guess it. Some will restring it in octaves and some will stay with unison stringing. Some players will want unison gut basses, and some think that sounds too thuddy or muddy. Others will want all gut with one single nylon chanterelle...All the experiences I've had so far with vihuela, lute, ren guitar players has been that they kibitz around with strings until they find the ones they think are right for a particular instrument.

I just want to make the instrument and set it up with strings that let me hear it clearly. I leave it to player to decide what colors, or octave /unison choice and feel they want from the stringing. If I get a order in the future and they specify use this or that string combo, I'll do that. This is, I think, either the third or forth vihuela I've made, can't remember, the last one as in 2003. At this point I'm just trying to develop two vihuela models that players will accept and later I'll get more detailed with decoration and strings. I'm more interested in working out a plantilla size vs. top thicknesses and bridge style, but keeping in mind it needs to ultimately work well with gut strings and light nylon stringing.

For me personally gut strings get worn quickly, I either have acidic sweat or I fray them with rough nails and hands, so to test it out with nylon is more practical. Although I do hear a difference between the two types of strings, I'm fine with good nylon.

Makers are doing really lavish super well executed rosettes these days with combinations of parchment and wood. I think that will be my next goal, design or use a rose that is on par with what is out there today. If I get a good plantilla and sound and put it with nice a rose it should all come together in two to four more instruments.
Patience at the bending iron pays in rounded dividends!

MessyTendon
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Re: Shop prototype for a Vihuela

Post by MessyTendon » Tue Jul 28, 2015 6:18 am

Is there a reason for having such an ornate design on the sound hole? Does it serve a sonic purpose, or is it simply tradition? I notice some have internal cones, are these resonate features or simply a way for the builder to show of skills?

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Michael.N.
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Re: Shop prototype for a Vihuela

Post by Michael.N. » Tue Jul 28, 2015 1:08 pm

It's for aesthetic reasons. Baroque Guitars (not all) tend to have the inverted cone type, Vihuelas and renaissance guitars are made up of a few layers of parchment/wood. You could say that the rose reduces the effective soundhole diameter (which it does), in which case I guess you could compensate by just reducing the soundhole diameter of an instrument that doesn't have the decorative rose.
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Claudiosolares
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Re: Shop prototype for a Vihuela

Post by Claudiosolares » Tue Feb 02, 2016 4:05 pm

Very nice vihuela. I have a Chamburé and I did the parchment layer. The parchment is stretched tight across the soundhole , vibrates and adds some roughness to the overall sound, in the same way the skin across a drum snare works. Likewise, I think the Baroque cone helps to project the sound outwards.
Yup, the string factor is a mess. I tried nylgut and it sounded almost like a small jazz guitar...the sound was too bright. So now I'm with pure gut and it sounds, of course, less than a modern instrument and more like an authentic instrument from the Renaissance. I lost some volume but now it sounds like a vihuela.
Most luthiers I've seen, offer either nylgut or pure nylons... the early-music musician must know what he's getting into and must be informed as to what strings are available. No ignorance admitted.
1985 Bertrand Martin: Spruce, Rosewood
2013 Feiga Siedler: Vihuela de Mano after E7048: Spruce, Indian Rosewood.
2014 Francisco Navarro: After Rodriguez: Cedar,Cocobolo
2016 Carlos Trujillo: Baroque guitar after Chechucci: Machiche, Spruce, Chicozapote

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Stephen Faulk
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Re: Shop prototype for a Vihuela

Post by Stephen Faulk » Wed Feb 03, 2016 11:45 am

The vihuela and its music has always been a favorite of mine, since first time in high school heard Segovia LP's with Milan and Narvaez pieces. I sought out a lute maker in themid 1990\s to helpme make a vihuela and he gave me the measurements of a Klaus Jabcobsen vihuela that was circulating around the San Francisco bay area and I built to those measurements. It was wide and thin and I used Cypress for the back and sides. It turned out ok for a first go and it was really exciting to see it through. The lute maker is still one of my best buddies and a former teacher.

I forgot about this post, I made this instrument as a test for the humidity control in my shop in Japan. It sounded ok, not big, not complete,but ok. I sold it to my best friend from Jr. high school, he can't really play it to any degree but he enjoys having it around. He loves early music.

Not too long after I made my first vihuela on the Jacobsen model a Stephen Barber Chambure model came to town as a friend in Berkeley CA bought it from Barber. I think it was the first of second of the Chambure copies he made,pretty sure. The top was fairly thick and it sounded a bit thuddy. Eventually the sound bloomed out after it had been under tension for a few months and it sounded really gutsy and full.

The Chambure was a really cool thing to see in person soon after it had been copied, previous to that the most cool vihuela I had seen was a Dan Larson owned by a different player in Berkeley. The two guys knew each other, and one of them is a pro player. They used to have a lot to say about stringing and string selection. Whether or not to string octave courses in the basses or unison basses was the main issue they went back and forth on.

The unison courses in th e bass seems really authentic, a good case can be made for that being the way to string the vihuela, but octave basses also sound good and it depends on the particular instrument and what best suits it. After hearing these guys, who are pretty savvy players respectively, hash out the ideas about stringing I decided if I build more tied gut fretted instruments I would let the player/buyer sort out the stringing for themselves unless they had a specific string arrangement brand in mind.

Now I've kind if changed my mind a bit on that score and if I ever make another vihuela I'll set it up with unison basses in gut and let the player go for there. It's tempting to mount another vihuela project, but for me they are not really my main thing. A few years after a made the first one a kind of vihuela mania set in,it became every popular by the mid 2000's and many more makers tried to build vihuelas, and made good ones. I took a different route, but I still listen to vihuela music on vihuela while I work. I think it is an instrument with unique sound and although it does not project like a modern guitar it has I think a lot of potential for composers to write contemporary music for it in addition to the literature from old Spain and Italy.
Patience at the bending iron pays in rounded dividends!

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