Baroque Lute or Renaissance Lute?

Discussion of all aspects of early instruments, lutes, theorbos, vihuelas, Renaissance guitars and Baroque guitars.
gilles T
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Re: Baroque Lute or Renaissance Lute?

Post by gilles T » Tue Jul 21, 2015 6:12 pm

Hello Jason,

I had been through the same quest as yours and sougt after a "one size fits all" solution which is, as being said with great accuracy and knowledge by others above, quite impossible. My quest eventually ended in purchasing a strange beast, a "chitarrone francese" (google it to find out) which is basically a theorbed baroque guitar in the guise of a liuto attiorbato. I re-strunged it as an archlute (six courses on the "petit jeu", seven single basses) and thought it was OK for an all-purpose instrument : renaissance tuning for the renaissance music, guitar tuning for the baroque repertoire, which I play from guitar tanscriptions. Well, all in all, it does the trick but it's not very satisfying, because of the long scale that makes LH stretches very difficult, specially for Weiss, Baron, Bach and the likes.

If I had the opportunity to solve the problem now, I would go for a 7-course ren lute AND a baroque lute, but that's quite a pricey solution.
Otherwise, you may consider some of the less-known "mandora-gallichon" (see : which sound exquisite for the late baroque.



Scot Tremblay
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Re: Baroque Lute or Renaissance Lute?

Post by Scot Tremblay » Tue Jul 21, 2015 6:13 pm

Emilio_K wrote:...One thing to consider is that achieving good tone with nails on a lute is really not possible in my experience. Nails cause the course to not be sounded in unison and to be brash and banjo-like. I definitely had to focus on lute for several months then regrow my nails for guitar when I switched back to it...
I will agree with you that it is next to impossible to get a good tone with nails using modern guitar technique, modern nail shape and length. However, I do believe it is not absolutely "impossible'. With some experimentation and modification to the nail length and shape and an adjustment to the angle of attack to the courses a very good warm tone is achievable.

I've played lute nearly as long as I have the guitar so have developed a technique that works quite well for both. I found, for me, that a relative short nail, just peeking over the tips of my fingers, contoured to the exact shape of my fingertips, with a more oblique stroke attack (keeping in mind to strike between the two strings of each course) allows me to get a warm very acceptable tone on the lute and by moving my hand a tiny bit into the traditional guitar hand position get a good tone out of the guitar as well. This might not work for everyone but in my case it is a good solution.

One clarification, I do not play with the customary "thumb under" technique as most renaissance lute players do these days (neither did the lutenists during the renaissance all play thumb under but that is a different discussion...and many also played with nails, also another discussion). My right hand position is much more like that used by Baroque lute players with the thumb slightly forward.
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

Emil Krasich
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Re: Baroque Lute or Renaissance Lute?

Post by Emil Krasich » Tue Jul 21, 2015 11:56 pm

I hear you. I know that folks make short nails work on lute and really respect that. I studied under John Schneiderman for years but still never found a consistent length of nail to apply to both lute and guitar. I guess that I'm more of a "modern" guitar player and need the longer nails. Lute tone and playing felt ridiculously easier to me with nail that was a couple millimeters before the fleshy tip of the finger.

For Baroque lute, I absolutely had to have the thumb forward on account of the fact that your hand is flat in order to reach the 11th through 13th course. While I love the lute, my back couldn't handle sitting with them. Guitars and supports are the future for the rest of my life. Comfort is a necessity for enjoyment these days. Back injuries early on and playing for 27 years makes foot stools unapproachable for me anymore :(. I also felt that I need to hunch over a lute a fair bit to stabilize the rounded back which further caused back issues for me.


Re: Baroque Lute or Renaissance Lute?

Post by AndreiKrylov » Wed Jul 22, 2015 1:41 am

Emilio, I feel the same as you.
But I found solution for myself - I asked good luthier to make very small lute and a bit more flat than normal body size, but still a lute. And it works for my just fine. My back has no problem with it... I play it with strap as same as I use for guitar.
Good luck!

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Re: Baroque Lute or Renaissance Lute?

Post by Tonyyyyy » Wed Jul 22, 2015 11:37 pm

My solution is I think? a bit like Scot's. If I am in a period of playing both lute and guitar, then I file off the right side of the nail, and keep a bit of nailon the left side for guitar. (I have different techniques - I lead from the left side of the nail with guitar, and from the right with lute... guitar perpendicular and the lute at an acute angle)

My index nail recently broke - I had to file it down and maybe it will lead to a period of more lute playing!


Re: Baroque Lute or Renaissance Lute?

Post by Jason » Fri Jul 24, 2015 9:18 am

Thanks all for sharing :merci:

I am really grateful to understand what I can play or be tuned with a 6/7/8/9/10/11/12/13 courses :x lute. This is really important in helping me to decide the best value to me for a single lute purchase. Thanks also for sharing over the playing techniques as I can imagine how would it like to play with a lute as to compare with a classical guitar.

And thanks to Tonyyyyy about the lute society rentals. I could only envy this while I am living in Hong Kong.

Just wish me good luck on the lute hunt!


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Re: Baroque Lute or Renaissance Lute?

Post by Lovemyguitar » Sun Jul 26, 2015 4:29 pm

Good luck!


Re: Baroque Lute or Renaissance Lute?

Post by Jason » Tue Jul 28, 2015 3:35 am

Can I ask further... does anyone actually started with playing Baroque lute instead of Renaissance lute? Irrespective of CG experience.

Polifemo de Oro

Re: Baroque Lute or Renaissance Lute?

Post by Polifemo de Oro » Tue Jul 28, 2015 4:13 am

Hello Jason. I am one such. I play the guitar and the Baroque lute but have never actually played a Renaissance lute before. I would like, sometime, to have a Renaissance lute. But, I decided to play the Baroque lute because I figured that I could 1) always play the music of the Renaissance period on my guitar by simply retuning my 3rd string to F# and using a capo if I wished and, 2) I that I loved the repertoire of the Baroque lute and I wanted to play it with original tunings and fingerings, which is quite impossible a translation to make on the guitar.

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