Renaissance/baroque lute DIY kits?

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Movitz
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Renaissance/baroque lute DIY kits?

Post by Movitz » Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:13 pm

I recently acquired a sort of guitar/lute hybrid - probably built in Germany early twentieth century. It's really fun playing, and it suits my musical repertoire. Hence it got me interested in the lute per se. Not inclined to put huge amounts of money into it, not for a start at least, I'm thinking about the DIY kits provided by for instance The Early Music Shop and Renaissance Workshop Company. Does anyone here have any experience from them or alike? Assembling difficulty? Playability? All input on the subject is much appreciated!

RobMacKillop
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Re: Renaissance/baroque lute DIY kits?

Post by RobMacKillop » Tue Jul 10, 2018 9:15 pm

I played one which a student of mine made from an Early Music Shop kit. It was cheap-feeling, not a good sound, and the neck was too narrow for the number of courses, making it difficult to play. But that was ten years ago. Maybe they have better kits now.

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muirtan
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Re: Renaissance/baroque lute DIY kits?

Post by muirtan » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:06 pm

Movitz I and my husband built one but needed help at the end due to the bridge detaching. I'll write in more detail for you tomorrow as its rather late now.

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muirtan
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Re: Renaissance/baroque lute DIY kits?

Post by muirtan » Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:32 am

Hi Movitz
I was given a lute kit from EMS for a xmas present one year by my husband. He has basic woodworking skills, he makes wooden toys as a hobby, so he thought between us we could manage it. The bowl was already formed and he’d bought the kit with a precut rosette.

He thought some of the instructions were confusing and some were just wrong (in his opinion) but we got on with it up to the point o fixing the bridge. He looked at what needed doing and said the bridge isn’t going to hold but he went ahead and followed the instructions.

I varnished it after checking on line, and fitted the pegs. So far so good. I look at the frets and strings provided and wasn’t impressed, both nylon. I found details they gave of how to tie the frets confusing to say the least so I found a different way online. Part way through I realised I would run out of the fret material. I contacted them and they were less than helpful saying there was enough and use a different diameter one. In the end I used some old guitar strings (at this stage I just wanted to see what it sounded like and thought I could change it later). Then to string it, this I did but it was catching on the nut so used graphite to help. Didn’t sound too bad.

Two weeks later the bridge came away. Refixed and a couple of weeks later the same thing happened and little slivers of wood had come away from the soundboard. At this point I decided we needed help. My husband was all for using it as an ornament but it was an instrument and I wanted to play it. I contacted David van Edwards (I’d met him before and he is local to me) for advice / recommend someone. He recommended Luke Emmett who was brilliant. Took the lute to Luke, basically he said we had all the angles correct and height of string etc and the pegs were filed OK. He had to take the soundboard off to fix the bridge. He also noted at this time that the nut was wood and he’d change it for a bone nut as that would allow the strings to move more smoothly when tuning. He also said if he found any problems when to soundboard was removed he’d email me before going ahead with any work.

He emailed saying the wooden braces they had provided were too heavy and could he change them for a lighter weight wood. As this would involve removing them would I like him to then the soundboard some more. I gave him the go ahead for all his suggestions. In the end I had a lovely sounding lute. When I went for my first lute lesson the only thing mentioned about it was maybe in the future I may want the action lowered slightly but we’d see I how got on. So far no problem.


So cost wise I probably paid about 75% of the original price on the extra work. Possibly in total it came to about the same cost as buying one new but I have heard that some of the new ones are poorly set up and need re setting.

That’s my experience and hope it helps it was about 4 years ago.

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Michael.N.
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Re: Renaissance/baroque lute DIY kits?

Post by Michael.N. » Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:56 am

Well if you factor in the time and the likely quality of the finished product you may as well buy one of the student lutes from one of the lute makers. However you may want the pleasure :shock: of assembling an instrument that you can play (you aren't exactly 'making' it). Pre made bowl takes some of the fun (and difficulty) out of it though.
The EMS don't actually make the kit themselves, they are sourced (perhaps to their spec) from the far east. The difficult parts are done - bowl, rosette, pegbox. It's definitely more of an assembly job but perhaps you are OK with that.
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SeanWinkler
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Re: Renaissance/baroque lute DIY kits?

Post by SeanWinkler » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:12 pm

I recently found a used 8-course flat-back "travel lute," which seems to be sold by Pick & Boch. I don't know what the consensus is on these--the body shape is certainly nonstandard, but so far I think it's not a bad entry level instrument. The pegs seem to fit well, and the tone is decent considering the shallow body depth. I'd be curious to hear opinions from those of you who are more knowledgeable since I've only dabbled with the lute.

I'm not sure if it's something I'll stick with, so this one may end up for sale in the classifieds here ;-)
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Movitz
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Re: Renaissance/baroque lute DIY kits?

Post by Movitz » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:24 pm

RobMacKillop wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 9:15 pm
I played one which a student of mine made from an Early Music Shop kit. It was cheap-feeling, not a good sound, and the neck was too narrow for the number of courses, making it difficult to play. But that was ten years ago. Maybe they have better kits now.
Thank you, Rob, for the input. As I understand it, the EMS DIY kits are the same as their ready mades, so I thought I visit the shop in London to check them out. I'm not - and will hardly become - very hard core about early music. I play songs by C.M. Bellman, who was an eighteen century poet. But as he himself made use of earlier music, like J.H. Roman, I have come to think that a renaissance or baroque lute might add some to my interpretations. I will hardly use the instrument for solo playing. Only for accompaniment, so my requirements are rather modest. or, so I believe...

Movitz
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Re: Renaissance/baroque lute DIY kits?

Post by Movitz » Wed Jul 11, 2018 1:58 pm

muirtan wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:32 am
Hi Movitz
I was given a lute kit from EMS for a xmas present one year by my husband. He has basic woodworking skills, he makes wooden toys as a hobby, so he thought between us we could manage it. The bowl was already formed and he’d bought the kit with a precut rosette.

He thought some of the instructions were confusing and some were just wrong (in his opinion) but we got on with it up to the point o fixing the bridge. He looked at what needed doing and said the bridge isn’t going to hold but he went ahead and followed the instructions.

I varnished it after checking on line, and fitted the pegs. So far so good. I look at the frets and strings provided and wasn’t impressed, both nylon. I found details they gave of how to tie the frets confusing to say the least so I found a different way online. Part way through I realised I would run out of the fret material. I contacted them and they were less than helpful saying there was enough and use a different diameter one. In the end I used some old guitar strings (at this stage I just wanted to see what it sounded like and thought I could change it later). Then to string it, this I did but it was catching on the nut so used graphite to help. Didn’t sound too bad.

Two weeks later the bridge came away. Refixed and a couple of weeks later the same thing happened and little slivers of wood had come away from the soundboard. At this point I decided we needed help. My husband was all for using it as an ornament but it was an instrument and I wanted to play it. I contacted David van Edwards (I’d met him before and he is local to me) for advice / recommend someone. He recommended Luke Emmett who was brilliant. Took the lute to Luke, basically he said we had all the angles correct and height of string etc and the pegs were filed OK. He had to take the soundboard off to fix the bridge. He also noted at this time that the nut was wood and he’d change it for a bone nut as that would allow the strings to move more smoothly when tuning. He also said if he found any problems when to soundboard was removed he’d email me before going ahead with any work.

He emailed saying the wooden braces they had provided were too heavy and could he change them for a lighter weight wood. As this would involve removing them would I like him to then the soundboard some more. I gave him the go ahead for all his suggestions. In the end I had a lovely sounding lute. When I went for my first lute lesson the only thing mentioned about it was maybe in the future I may want the action lowered slightly but we’d see I how got on. So far no problem.


So cost wise I probably paid about 75% of the original price on the extra work. Possibly in total it came to about the same cost as buying one new but I have heard that some of the new ones are poorly set up and need re setting.

That’s my experience and hope it helps it was about 4 years ago.
Thank you for extensive and really helpful input. I cannot boast wood working experience of any degree, so from what you are telling me I gather that probably I'd do best trying to find a second hand lute - or perhaps buy a ready made from EMS. (Thinking about a trip to Cambridge in a few weeks time, anyway, so why not a detour to London to check out their lutes for my self.) Or mybe I just stay satisfied with the lute/guitar crossover I recently happened to lay hands on. Its six single strings makes playing easy enough as it doesn't require other but guitar playing technique. (It's preferably tuned a third up from the guitar, though, so I'll have to transpose and re arrange every piece. Maybe that will be enough...

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muirtan
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Re: Renaissance/baroque lute DIY kits?

Post by muirtan » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:28 pm

I wouldn't worry about transposing unless you play with others. I play a guitar version of Dowland Preludium ( it has 3rd tuned to F#) on the lute I just use the same fingering as I do on guitar. As the lute is just something to play around with and not for detail study I'm not going to worry.

Have you thought about hiring a lute for a month or so to see how you get on? Initially I found it really strange holding it and the right hand technique. It was only after my first lesson it became more natural and I think that was because of how it was explained.

OldPotter
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Re: Renaissance/baroque lute DIY kits?

Post by OldPotter » Wed Jul 11, 2018 6:37 pm

As I understand it, the latest version of the EMS lute (and the kit) is an improvement on the earlier one. I haven't seen either, so don't know for certain. I did get some plans from David van Edwards but won't have time to work on that for a year or two.

It will be interesting to see if you like what they have.
"When I was younger, I could remember almost everything, whether it happened or not." Mark Twain

Movitz
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Re: Renaissance/baroque lute DIY kits?

Post by Movitz » Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:32 pm

Thank you all for sharing your insights on the subject! I have no come to understand that the instrument I recently bought is a "wandervogel lute". Rather common in Germany, obviously. The one I've got is short scale like a lute, while the more modern ones seem to be guitar scale. I have never come across one alike before, but I like both it's looks and sound. It also got a nice feel to my hands, and it suits my purposes playing and singing C. M. Bellman) https://youtu.be/GKpHxbfAofQ so maybe I'll stay satisfied with it. However I will try to visit the Early Music Shop when I get over to the UK, to see what I think about their renaissance and baroque lutes. Will probably rather try to lay my hands on a secondhand lute than buy either a ready built or a DIY, though. My budget is rather limited, though...

NoelTurner
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Re: Renaissance/baroque lute DIY kits?

Post by NoelTurner » Sun Jan 06, 2019 7:23 pm

‘Thank you for extensive and really helpful input. I cannot boast wood working experience of any degree, so from what you are telling me I gather that probably I'd do best trying to find a second hand lute - or perhaps buy a ready made from EMS. (Thinking about a trip to Cambridge in a few weeks time, anyway, so why not a detour to London to check out their lutes for my self.) Or mybe I just stay satisfied with the lute/guitar crossover I recently happened to lay hands on. Its six single strings makes playing easy enough as it doesn't require other but guitar playing technique. (It's preferably tuned a third up from the guitar, though, so I'll have to transpose and re arrange every piece. Maybe that will be enough...’ their London shop normally only has new items the shop in for distant north may keep both! I’ve had 6 course prebuilt over Xmas holidays and apart from a string tied wrong to the bridge it seems ok! Treble action about 3.25 bass 3.75 both inside Lute Soc criteria but seems high to me!

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