Those German lute-guitars

Discussion of all aspects of early instruments, lutes, theorbos, vihuelas, Renaissance guitars and Baroque guitars.
User avatar
David_Norton
Posts: 3871
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2008 4:12 pm
Location: Salt Lake City, UT, USA

Those German lute-guitars

Post by David_Norton » Wed May 07, 2014 2:00 pm

We've all seen them, the 6-string lute-shaped guitars. Commonly called Wandervogel lutes, though perhaps the most accurate term I have ever heard applied to these instruments is Panzerlauten. I've owned 2 in my life, neither one for very long.

What I don't understand is, "why the scalloped frets?" Rather than a normal flat board, these instruments seem to all come with a scooped-out or scalloped board. What possible purpose does this have? It sure makes intonation wonky, and also IMO makes them harder to play.
David Norton
Salt Lake City, UT

Scot Tremblay
Luthier
Posts: 4217
Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:18 pm
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

Re: Those German lute-guitars

Post by Scot Tremblay » Wed May 07, 2014 4:16 pm

You can see scalloped fingerboards all through the 19th century, although it didn't seem to be that big of a hit. I have a 1820's French instrument in my collection which has scalloped frets. The main purpose was to to accentuate the slides, gliss. etc which was part of the (a) stylistic aesthetic at the time. We often don't play the 19th century guitar music with the gliss as it's not as stylistically acceptable as it once was...IMO, it's too bad really as it can be quite fun albeit schmaltzy :roll:

You are right, it does take care and accurate technique to not distort the tone/pitch.

I just remembered another discussion from a while back...
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=35033
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

User avatar
David_Norton
Posts: 3871
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2008 4:12 pm
Location: Salt Lake City, UT, USA

Re: Those German lute-guitars

Post by David_Norton » Wed May 07, 2014 7:15 pm

I think Bream's first lute was a highly modified (by Thomas Goff) wandervogel laute, with a wider neck and bridge grafted onto the shell.
David Norton
Salt Lake City, UT

JohnPierce

Re: Those German lute-guitars

Post by JohnPierce » Wed May 07, 2014 7:17 pm

In addition to what Scot said, in principle scalloped fretboards should allow you to adjust notes in the way other string players do. That may have been important before 12-TET became ubiquitous and destroyed the difference between keys. It might take a very sensitive touch to make use of it, but I doubt it's any more difficult to learn than the adjustments good violinists, cellists, et al, make.

Scot Tremblay
Luthier
Posts: 4217
Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:18 pm
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

Re: Those German lute-guitars

Post by Scot Tremblay » Wed May 07, 2014 10:58 pm

jwp wrote:In addition to what Scot said, in principle scalloped fretboards should allow you to adjust notes in the way other string players do. That may have been important before 12-TET became ubiquitous and destroyed the difference between keys. It might take a very sensitive touch to make use of it, but I doubt it's any more difficult to learn than the adjustments good violinists, cellists, et al, make.
That's interesting. I hadn't thought of that. 12-TET was invented/devised roughly early mid 17th century but didn't become widely used until the late 18th early 19th (well into the 19th in some regions).

I can see how a scalloped fingerboard would have been useful for some folks. Those who played solo or with other guitarists mainly may not have been as concerned as those who played with strings...That opens up a whole world of possible avenues of exploration :twisted:
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

Lovemyguitar
Posts: 2877
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2011 5:50 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Those German lute-guitars

Post by Lovemyguitar » Thu May 08, 2014 3:35 am

David_Norton wrote:I think Bream's first lute was a highly modified (by Thomas Goff) wandervogel laute, with a wider neck and bridge grafted onto the shell.
Yes, I recall Bream talking about this on his DVD. He was still in his mid-teens, and his dad came home with it one day (apparently he'd bought it from a sailor off the back of a truck/lorry). By the time Bream got around to recording albums a few years later, he had a new lute (which can be seen in photos/album covers). I've never seen a photo of his modified lute-guitar (have you?).

gilles T
Posts: 150
Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2014 4:11 pm
Location: Paris, France

Re: Those German lute-guitars

Post by gilles T » Sat Nov 22, 2014 12:07 pm

Hello,

German lute-guitars are very underrated among musicians; mainly because it's very difficult to find one which is really enjoyable to play. I had the luck to buy one on the internet ( always a risky business) which is in very good shape. The neck is right and the action reasonably low; there are no scalloped frets. I strung it with Nylgut/Aquila and it's a plesaure to play. It definitly doesn't sound like a lute, but neither like a guitar; it's a subtle inbetween. What strikes me the most is the richness of the basses; they are so profound and last so long it's almost "too much", so you have to adpat your playing in order to "cut" the sustain.
Once again, I know I've been very lucky to purchase such a good instrument without being able to try it before but due to the general cheapness of these instruments, I think it's worth to give them a try if you want to have a very different sounding instrument that still feels like a guitar.

Cheers,

Gilles

simonm
Amateur luthier
Posts: 6174
Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 10:22 am
Location: Germany, Kronberg (near Frankfurt).

Re: Those German lute-guitars

Post by simonm » Sat Nov 22, 2014 12:52 pm

Many years ago I knew some instrument makers in Germany who recommended buying one of these if you wanted to make a hurdygurdy (Drehleier). It was (and still would be) a very cheap and quick way of getting a well made shell to build the hurdygurdy on assuming the shell was big enough for your desired instrument. I think it was also reflected what they thought about the sound of the average lute guitar too.

soltirefa
Posts: 1295
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 3:59 am
Location: Southern California

Re: Those German lute-guitars

Post by soltirefa » Fri Nov 28, 2014 4:33 pm

Not really the same thing being discussed here, but have you seen the Liuto Forte? They are lute-looking instruments that play more like a guitar.

User avatar
David_Norton
Posts: 3871
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2008 4:12 pm
Location: Salt Lake City, UT, USA

Re: Those German lute-guitars

Post by David_Norton » Fri Nov 28, 2014 4:47 pm

I've seen the Liuto Fortes on line (not in person), and checked out their website. Looks like a very good design idea.
David Norton
Salt Lake City, UT

User avatar
Michael.N.
Posts: 6344
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2007 7:28 am
Location: UK

Re: Those German lute-guitars

Post by Michael.N. » Fri Nov 28, 2014 5:45 pm

But still a 300 year+ old design idea, despite the marketing. Single strings were common on the Archlute and Theorbo. It virtually halved the string tension on the neck and the soundboard, not to mention the cost of the strings. I don't really see that much difference between the Lute Guitar. The basic concept is very much the same - bowl /lute shape, single strung, metal frets. Some indeed were built as multi string types. All I will say is that the few Lute Guitars that I've come across could have been built a bit lighter and they were never intended to be the finest instruments ever constructed.
Historicalguitars.

Scot Tremblay
Luthier
Posts: 4217
Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:18 pm
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

Re: Those German lute-guitars

Post by Scot Tremblay » Fri Nov 28, 2014 6:53 pm

To my ear the Liuto Forte sounds a lot like the early 60s recordings of lutes played by Gerwig, Ragossnig and others. It wasn't always the case but often these were heavy guitaristic in build with fixed frets. More like a guitar than an historical lute.

One of the big advocates for the Liuto Forte is Luciano Còntini. I like his playing but I cannot say that his instrument sounds all that much like a lute. I actually find that it sounds more like the multi-string alto-guitars as those made by Rodolfo Cucculelli or the Dresden made by Michael Thames. Wonderful sounding instruments but not to be confused with real lutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3tGbTP13XA
Last edited by Scot Tremblay on Fri Nov 28, 2014 10:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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

soltirefa
Posts: 1295
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 3:59 am
Location: Southern California

Re: Those German lute-guitars

Post by soltirefa » Fri Nov 28, 2014 9:08 pm

Scot Tremblay wrote:To my ear the Liuto Forte sounds a lot like the early 60s recordings of lutes played by Gerwig, Ragossnig and others. It wasn't always the case but often these were heavy guitaristic in build with fixed frets. More like a guitar than an historical lute.

One of the big advocates for the Liuto Forte is Luciano Còntini. I like his playing but I cannot say that his instrument sounds all that much like a lute. I actually find that it sounds more like the multi-string alto-guitars as those made by Rodolfo Cucculellithe or the Dresden made by Michael Thames. Wonderful sounding instruments but not to be confused with real lutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3tGbTP13XA
Wow, just listened to his BWV 998 PF&A. I think it sounds amazing. I like its soft sound and lack of over-ringing that most multi-string guitars have. It can be hard to judge merely by different videos or recordings, but my first thought was that I like it more than the Thames Dresden. But once again, hard to judge going from one recording to the next.

User avatar
Michael.N.
Posts: 6344
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2007 7:28 am
Location: UK

Re: Those German lute-guitars

Post by Michael.N. » Fri Nov 28, 2014 9:39 pm

In some part that lack of over ringing may well be due to string type. Wound Gut or the Aquila synthetic D/DE type can sound pretty dull in comparison to modern silver plated Nylon types.
Historicalguitars.

soltirefa
Posts: 1295
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 3:59 am
Location: Southern California

Re: Those German lute-guitars

Post by soltirefa » Fri Nov 28, 2014 11:33 pm

Interestingly, on their site it says he plays "Arciliuto in a (415 Hz), body of rosewood, 14 single strings (played with nails)." Checking out their site further I see the tuning on that particular instrument is with the first six strings the same as the guitar, and then descending down from that on the lower basses. I had assumed it was the d-minor tuning. Wrong.

Return to “Lutes, Baroque and Renaissance Guitars, etc.”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: CommonCrawl [Bot] and 3 guests