I study and play Renaissance lute but a little more in the fashion of Julian Bream. I use flesh and short-nails. I use the ring finger. I don't do runs with just my thumb. I don't anchor my pinky on the soundboard. My lute is played at about a 45 degree angle (with the use of a strap).
It's my own style but not unheard of both historically and among a few modern lute players. I'm happy with the tone that I produce and am particularly happy with the comfort of my playing style.
If you choose to play lute in the historical fashion that most lutenists prefer, then there will be a good deal of adjustments that you will need to make.
A 6-course lute is enough to play most Renaissance lute tablature (supposedly 95%). I have an 8-course lute (and sometimes wish that I had a 10-course lute). A good used second-hand lute may run you about $500-$900. The Pakistan-made lutes sold on e - b a y can work but would still require the work of a knowledgeable luthier to make them acceptably serviceable
. That may add another $150-$500.
Among the better lute forums is lutegroup.ning.com
Among the lute builders who can make a very good affordable lute in the US (affordable
being a relative term), I would recommend Mel Wong in the San Francisco Bay Area
. I hope to commission a student baroque lute from him if my "lucky" stars ever align.
Ironically, Mel tried an experiment in offering affordable 6-course lutes
and got but a lukewarm response.