Interested in a lute BUT...

Discussion of all aspects of early instruments, lutes, theorbos, vihuelas, Renaissance guitars and Baroque guitars.
2lost2find
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Interested in a lute BUT...

Post by 2lost2find » Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:37 pm

I've mentioned in other parts of the forum that I looking into an instrument with more than six strings. I've been looking into ten string guitars (and have come up with several possible tunings to address the specific issues I want to try and deal with), but I'm also thinking something like an archlute with 12-14 strings might be fun. However, I haven't the slightest interest in fighting with double courses or tied-on frets. Not gonna happen. My GF found a company called Liuto Forte and they look cool and the video clips sound fantastic but holy hell you're going to be in at least $6k on one of the things. I spent almost twenty years playing guitar professionally and I've never spent anywhere near that much on an instrument. So basically I'm in the market for something similar to the Liuto Forte that does not cost $6000. Any ideas?

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Re: Interested in a lute BUT...

Post by Conall » Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:58 pm

2lost2find wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:37 pm
I've mentioned in other parts of the forum that I looking into an instrument with more than six strings. I've been looking into ten string guitars (and have come up with several possible tunings to address the specific issues I want to try and deal with), but I'm also thinking something like an archlute with 12-14 strings might be fun. However, I haven't the slightest interest in fighting with double courses or tied-on frets. Not gonna happen. My GF found a company called Liuto Forte and they look cool and the video clips sound fantastic but holy hell you're going to be in at least $6k on one of the things. I spent almost twenty years playing guitar professionally and I've never spent anywhere near that much on an instrument. So basically I'm in the market for something similar to the Liuto Forte that does not cost $6000. Any ideas?
I think Bartolex make 11 string guitars if 10 aren't enough. t h o m a n n (Germany) sell / make lute-guitars which are cheap but only have 6 strings - they might have ones with more strings but not apparently on their website.
I've ordered an 11 string guitar to my specifications from Heikki Rousu (Sweden) at a bit more than half the price of the liuto forte. He might be willing to make you a lute-guitar for a good deal less than $6k.

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Re: Interested in a lute BUT...

Post by 2lost2find » Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:52 am

Conall wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:58 pm
2lost2find wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:37 pm
I've mentioned in other parts of the forum that I looking into an instrument with more than six strings. I've been looking into ten string guitars (and have come up with several possible tunings to address the specific issues I want to try and deal with), but I'm also thinking something like an archlute with 12-14 strings might be fun. However, I haven't the slightest interest in fighting with double courses or tied-on frets. Not gonna happen. My GF found a company called Liuto Forte and they look cool and the video clips sound fantastic but holy hell you're going to be in at least $6k on one of the things. I spent almost twenty years playing guitar professionally and I've never spent anywhere near that much on an instrument. So basically I'm in the market for something similar to the Liuto Forte that does not cost $6000. Any ideas?
I think Bartolex make 11 string guitars if 10 aren't enough. t h o m a n n (Germany) sell / make lute-guitars which are cheap but only have 6 strings - they might have ones with more strings but not apparently on their website.
I've ordered an 11 string guitar to my specifications from Heikki Rousu (Sweden) at a bit more than half the price of the liuto forte. He might be willing to make you a lute-guitar for a good deal less than $6k.
Thanks, I'll look into that. Ultimately I might consider a Liuto Forte... I can afford it. It's more a matter of sticker shock than anything else. But I think first I'm going to go in for something a little less pricey, experiment with different tunings, and find out what works for me. But the possibilities of nine fretted strings and five long-scale bourdons sure are something to be considered...

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Re: Interested in a lute BUT...

Post by gjo » Thu Sep 20, 2018 2:01 pm

You get what you pay for :D

2lost2find
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Re: Interested in a lute BUT...

Post by 2lost2find » Thu Sep 20, 2018 6:37 pm

gjo wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 2:01 pm
You get what you pay for :D
For sure. But unless I find something for substantially less money I'm going to start out with one of the budget 10 string guitars from Cathedral or Bartolex... proof of concept for my tuning schemes, if you like. If it works out the way I hope then I'll look at jumping into something pricier. My girlfriend and I were both going to get one, but she's decided to chicken out and see if she likes whatever I buy first. :lol: Anyway, she just bought a six string so she's tapped. But now I'm torqued off because frankly her classical guitar is better than mine... :x

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Re: Interested in a lute BUT...

Post by richtm » Thu Sep 20, 2018 8:10 pm

There are nice offers even on e - b a y. If you check out the Scene more somebody would get even more interesting Instruments...
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Re: Interested in a lute BUT...

Post by simonm » Thu Sep 20, 2018 8:33 pm

Lutes are not very fashionable at the moment. There are probably loads of lutes about which would be for sale if the owners thought there was any chance of selling them. However, they would likely be mainly with double strings. Not all would have tied frets however. I believe Julan Bream was one of the people who played a lute with fixed frets.

Here in Germany I came across an estate sale where there were 6 or 7 lutes of various sizes and shapes from reputable German lute builders. I doubt if a single one sold. There is probably some lute societies in the US which might have a small ads section in their newsletters. That would be a way to look if you could make friends with double strings.

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Re: Interested in a lute BUT...

Post by pogmoor » Thu Sep 20, 2018 9:45 pm

Liuto forte lutes are not the only option for single strung lutes. Historically some theorbos were played single strung. You can find modern single strung instruments but more often players who wish to play this way will just leave off one set of strings. There is a lute currently advertised on the UK Lute Society website where the seller makes this point - as does Rob MacKillop in this thread viewtopic.php?f=1&t=115714&sid=bdb8cae0 ... a55092af27.
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Re: Interested in a lute BUT...

Post by 2lost2find » Fri Sep 21, 2018 12:29 am

pogmoor wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 9:45 pm
Liuto forte lutes are not the only option for single strung lutes. Historically some theorbos were played single strung. You can find modern single strung instruments but more often players who wish to play this way will just leave off one set of strings. There is a lute currently advertised on the UK Lute Society website where the seller makes this point - as does Rob MacKillop in this thread viewtopic.php?f=1&t=115714&sid=bdb8cae0 ... a55092af27.
Thanks, Pogmoor... jut watched rob's excellent video. I may go that route, although I still have deep misgivings about the tied-on frets. Aside from the PITA, I have to think the softer material would cost you sustain.

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Re: Interested in a lute BUT...

Post by Michael.N. » Fri Sep 21, 2018 8:10 am

There's one on the Dartmouth lute sales page right at this moment. Tied frets but I doubt that you can be too choosy.
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Re: Interested in a lute BUT...

Post by Wuuthrad » Fri Sep 21, 2018 8:39 am

If you decide you are actually interested in playing the Lute, check out Lute Society of America; they have Lute rentals and classifieds of Lutes and other period instruments for sale.You can also find Roosebeck Lutes in 7, 8 course for around 1k.

My feeling is if want to play Lute, go for it! Learn to read French Tablature and play double strings, and tied frets are really not a big deal. I've been at it for a little while and it's quite fun!

It's a much more delicate, quieter and intimate instrument, and it does lend itself to interesting improvisation. I find lot of the Classical Guitar repertoire originally written for Lute sounds better on Lute.

But basically you would have to decide-

Renaissance Music: 7 or 8 course Lute (usually F tuning of Dowland and majority.)

Baroque Music: (Bach and Weiss) 13 course, maybe 11. D minor tuning, where the bottom 5 courses are tuned in a scale.

Not as common are 10 courses which might be an interesting hybrid as there's a 10/11 course I've seen which can be switched between tunings.

But then again the timbre is not quite the same, there isn't nearly as much "really polyphonic" sound to borrow Segovia's description of the guitar.

But the Archlute and Theorbo- talk about Bass!!'
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Re: Interested in a lute BUT...

Post by Conall » Fri Sep 21, 2018 8:40 am

I imagine you could get a luthier to fret a used traditional lute for you ie replace the gut frets with fixed metal ones and you could, as others have suggested, put single strings on it instead of double courses.

But the metal frets would have only a minimal positive effect on volume and this would probably be counteracted by single versus double strings which would presumably be quieter.

And of course a lute's tone is brittle and less sustained than modern guitar. It's strings are closer to the soundboard, making playing it with longish nails awkward.

It really is a different proposition to an extended range guitar - which is why I never took to a lute.

I do like the lute, primarily for it's music & range but it is really for specialists of Baroque & Renaissance music who appreciate it's lighter sound & are happy with it's eccentricities / peculiarities (to guitarists). Trying to play both modern guitar & lute is not an easy mix if you play with nails. Go get yourself a cheap Chinese 2nd hand 8, 10 or 11 string & experiment with it first?

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Re: Interested in a lute BUT...

Post by 2lost2find » Fri Sep 21, 2018 11:57 am

Let me be a little more clear about what I want. I am not in the market for something to play historically accurate renditions of ancient music, but rather a vehicle for modern composition with more resources than the six string concert guitar. I've been nosing around at ten string guitars, but if we're being honest I agree with Rob's assessment in that video that guitars are terrible for lower bass notes. Every tuning I've come up with for 10 string guitar is either re-entrant or sticks some strings in between the A and E, because I've never heard a standard-sized extended range concert guitar that I thought sounded good below a low C. It's my thinking that a lute body does a much better job with that sort of thing, so I'm looking more for a modern take on the lute than a historical reproduction. So far it seems out of all the lute manufactures in the world the only one trying to take the instrument into the 21st century is a high-end company making very expensive instruments.

My thinking as of this moment is to possibly just buy a baroque 13 course lute, string it single, and put up with the gut frets while I use it to experiment with tunings. If I feel like it's working out maybe then look into spending more money.

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Re: Interested in a lute BUT...

Post by Emil Krasich » Fri Sep 21, 2018 2:29 pm

I love my Thames 13 string Dresden guitar (double top balsa core) especially after a venture for a year or two playing a baroque lute. The basses are quite well pronounced but then again the string length is considerably extended for the lowest 5 strings. My latest video on it is Falkenhagen here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wa4v42MyK1k , but there are other folks out there with more polished videos of the guitar. Check out Alain Cloutier as well for Dresden guitar videos.

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Re: Interested in a lute BUT...

Post by eno » Fri Sep 21, 2018 3:21 pm

I played lute for a few years a while ago but then switched back to CG, so I can share some insights.
I didn't find any issues or any uncomfort with gut frets so I wouldn't worry about that. The bigger issue is that if you want to play on gut strings or on Nylegut then you will need to change your right-hand technique quite significantly, and that is a big deal. Playing with nails with a standard CG technique at a steep angle to the strings just sounds bad on gut. But if you use single-string nylon then you can keep your technique. It will not sound authentic of course but it still sounds pretty good in its own way. Some prof CG players play those lute/guitar hybrids with lute body and CG fretboard and nylon strings, and they sound pretty good. For example you can check out some Fukuda's recordings.

If you want fat basses then a Baroque lute would probably be a better fit for you. Reniassance lutes typically have smaller bodies and sound weaker on basses. And with baroque lutes you can have an enormous amount of strings if that's what you want :D But I would be totally lost with so many stings ....
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