Having played a lot of lute music over a twenty-year period, and having recently sold my lutes to return my focus to guitar playing, it soon became apparent that an extended-range guitar might be useful for me. The question was how many strings, 8, 10 or 11? Commissioning an instrument is an expensive way to find out. Then I noticed an 8-string classical guitar by Ibanez, a blemished, lower-priced model – really inexpensive. I took the plunge…
The video below was made after having the instrument for only two days. I put it in what lute manuscripts in Scotland called ‘Harp Sharp’ tuning, that is: (treble to bass) c# a f# d a e d b. It’s an unusual tuning, not one you are likely to slip into during a concert, but the music for it is very beautiful, and worth the effort.
The guitar is an Ibanez G208CWC, and although Ibanez are not paying me to say this, I heartily recommend it for anyone ready to experiment with added strings. I got a blemished model at a lower price, but it’s in near perfect condition. I like its soft bass sound – you don’t want a long-sustained bass for lute music, you’d have to keep stopping the string after playing it.
I'm hugely impressed with this instrument for the price, it could easily sell for three times what I paid for it. The tuners are not bad, I suppose I could upgrade them at some point, but they do the job well. The craftsmanship looks very good - I'm not sure what the blemish is supposed to be...I can't see anything wrong with it.
I'm looking forward to exploring what else I can do with 8 strings, and not just lute music.