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liuto

Lute and Baroque Guitar

I can use these strings

Corde filate D Liuto

Wound Strings (D type)

Corde filate D Liuto

Wound  strings DE type

Corda in Budello HT HR

HV  (varnished gut strings)

budello venice v

Venice gut V

Aquila Budello appesantito C

Loaded gut “C” (still not available)

New Nylgut NNG

Nylgut® NNG

New Nylgut NGE

Nylgut® NGE

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Frets & gut-tailpieces

THE LUTE AND ITS GUT SETUP: OUR POINT OF VIEW (with the equivalent realized in synthetic material )

Our philosophy concerning gut stringings (but also their synthetic equivalents) for the lute family and 5 coursees guitars is simple: to reproduce, as far as possible, the typical sounds of historic instruments as they were in use.

This task has obviously its limitations, set both by our limited knowledge of ancient stringmaking technologies and by the fact that the lute (taking the 6 coursees as starting point) went through very different fashions and developments all along its long history.

Sill, within those limitations, research in the field of historic stringmaking made some important progress in recent years and, although we cannot claim we know exactly what the sound of the dolce strumento was like (a speculative point rather than a concrete one, anyway, since there must have been different opinions among lutenists in the past, too), we can fairly confidently define the acoustical region, common to all lutes, which was imposed by the stringmaking technologies of the past.

First of all, let us rule out the materials whose sound definitely cannot match the characteristic sound qualities of the lute:

  1. PVDF -Fluorocarbon (just called ‘Carbon’ from musicians) strings: much too bright in comparison with any type of gut string.
  2. Nylon: produces a somewhat duller and darker sound than gut.
  3. Nylgut: thin strings sound very close to gut, but does not quite compare by increasing diameters.
  4. Wound on Nylon multifilament: almost all the strings of this type are much too bright and possess too much sustain – the opposite of what revealed by research on 18th century wound strings, which were fundamental-heavy and needed octaves for brightness, and had limited sustain.

And then let’s consider some other parameters pertaining to the sound of the lute:

  1. Working string tension: today’s criteria, when working out lute stringings, rarely follow the idea of feel of equal stiffness on every coursees, like advocated by the ancients. The modern rule is, in general, to calculate the string diameters by applying the same tension, expressed in kilograms, to each string (this criterion is first described by Maugine & Maigne ‘Nouveau manuel complet du luthier’ in Paris, 1869) and completely ignores the variability of some typical factors, such as the different amount of reduction of the string diameters under working tension and how different strings of different manufacture and/or length feel under the fingers.
  2. Octave strings: the modern tendency is to apply a noticeably lower tension than on their respective fundamental strings (Virdung, 1511 seem to suggest that the diameter of the octave string should be half that of its fundamental).
  3. Trebles: when single strung, modern tendency is to apply too low a tension, giving an unbalanced feeling between the treble and the other coursees.
  4. Stringing criteria: the principle of grouping the strings into three well defined Sorts (like advocated in the old treatises, in Trebles, Meanes and Basses) is usually ignored. Thus, we often see strings of one Sort invading the field of another, thus altering the timbric and dynamic balance of the instrument (wound strings on the 4th coursees, wound long diapasons &c).

In conclusion: the acoustical qualities of today’s lutes are, in general, remarkably brighter and have more sustain in the bass and, because of the wound strings, also in the mid-register, thus failing to achieve the timbric and dynamic homogeneity we believe was typical of the past.

At the top end, trebles can be much brighter (PVDF or so called‘Carbon’) or duller (Nylon) than gut. We have created a new sound that doesn’t have very much in common with that of the past.
No criticism at all on this choice: the lute can well be played like this, too.

MP

 

For more information read our FAQ

Renaissance 6 courses Lute/Vihuela (1490-1580 ca)

All gut set

sequence string type paired string type
1 HV HV
2 HV HV
3 HV HV
4 Venice gut octaves: HV;  unissons: 2x Venice gut
5 Venice gut octaves: HV; unissons: 2 x Venice gut
6 Venice gut octaves: HV; unissons: 2 x Venice gut

Mixed gut & syntetic set

sequence string type paired string type
1 NNG NNG
2 NNG NNG
3 NNG NNG
4 Venice gut octaves: NNG; unissons: 2x Venice gut
5 Venice gut octaves: NNG; unissons: 2 x Venice gut
6 Venice gut octaves: NNG: unissons: 2 x Venice gut

All syntetic set

sequence string type paired string type
1 NNG NNG
2 NNG NNG
3 NNG NNG
4 NNG octaves: NNG; unissons 2x D type
5 NNG octaves: NNG; unissons 2x D type
6 Wound D type octaves: NNG; unissons: 2x D type
ATTENTION: the working tension of the octave strings must be greater of 10% than the fondamental’s gut paired bass string.

Renaissance Lutes With 7; 8; 9 e 10 courses (after 1580 ca.)

All gut set

sequence string type paired string type
1 HV HV
2 HV HV
3 HV HV
4 Venice gut octaves: HV; unissons: Venice gut
5 Venice gut octaves: HV ; unissons: Venice gut
6 Venice gut (or Loaded gut C) octaves: HV; unissons: Venice gut
7 Venice gut (or Loaded gut C) octaves: HV
8 Venice gut (or Loaded gut C) octaves: HV
9 Venice gut (or Loaded gut C) octaves: HV
10 Venice gut (or Loaded gut C) octaves: HV

Mixed gut & syntetic set

sequence string type paired string type
1 HV HV
2 HV HV
3 HV HV
4 Venice gut octaves: HV; unissons: Venice gut
5 Venice gut octaves: HV; unissons: Venice gut
6 Wound D type octaves: HV; unissons: Venice gut
7 Wound D type octaves: HV
8 Wound D type octaves: HV
9 Wound D type octaves: HV
10 Wound D type octaves: HV

All syntetic set

sequence string type paired string type
1 NNG NNG
2 NNG NNG
3 NNG NNG
4 NNG NNG
5 NNG NNG
6 Wound D type octaves: NNG
7 Wound D type octaves: NNG
8 Wound D type octaves: NNG
9 Wound D type octaves: NNG
10 Wound D type octaves: NNG

13, 14 courses Archlutes with short extended neck and octaved diapasons (after 1590 ca.)

All gut set

sequence string type paired string type
1 HV HV
2 HV HV
3 HV HV
4 Venice gut Venice gut
5 Venice gut octaves: HV
6 Venice gut (or Loaded gut C) octaves: HV
(7) Venice gut (or Loaded gut C) octaves: HV
diapasons:
7 Venice gut octaves: HV
8 Venice gut octaves: HV
9 Venice gut octaves: HV
10 Venice gut octaves: HV
11 Venice gut octaves: HV
12 Venice gut (or Loaded gut C) octaves: HV
13 Venice gut (or Loaded gut C) octaves: HV
(14) Venice gut (or Loaded gut C) octaves: HV

Mixed gut & syntetic set

sequence string type paired string type
1 HV HV
2 HV HV
3 HV HV
4 Venice gut HV
5 Venice gut octaves: HV
6 Wound D type octaves: HV
(7) Wound D type octaves: HV
diapasons:
7 Wound D type octaves: HV
8 Wound D type octaves: HV
9 Wound D type octaves: HV
10 Wound D type octaves: HV
11 Wound D type octaves: HV
12 Wound D type octaves: HV
13 Wound D type octaves: HV
(14) Wound D type octaves: HV

All syntetic set

sequence string type paired string type
1 NNG NNG
2 NNG NNG
3 NNG NNG
4 NNG NNG
5 NNG octave: NNG
6 Wound D type octave: NNG
(7) Wound D type octave: NNG
diapasons:
7 Wound D type octave: NNG
8 Wound D type octave: NNG
9 Wound D type octave: NNG
10 Wound D type octave: NNG
 11 Wound D type  octave: NNG
12 Wound D type octave: NNG
13 Wound D type octave: NNG
(14) Wound D type octave: NNG

13, 14 COURSES ARCHLUTES WITH LONG EXTENDED NECK AND SINGLE DIAPASONS (after 1590 ca.)

All Gut set

sequence string type paired string type
1 HV HV
2 HV HV
3 HV HV
4 HV HV
5 Venice gut octaves: HV: unissons: Venice gut
6 Venice gut octaves: HV; unisons: Venice gut
(7) Venice gut octaves: HV; unisons: Venice gut
(8) venice gut octaves: HV; unisons: Venice gut
diapasons:
7 HV  –
8 HV
9 HV
10 HV
11 HV
12 HV
13 HV
14 HV

Mixed gut & syntetic set

sequence string type paired string type
1 HV HV
2 HV HV
3 HV HV
4 HV HV
5 Venice gut octaves: HV: unissons: Venice gut
6 D type octaves: HV
(7) D type octaves: HV
(8) VD type octaves: HV
diapasons:
7 NGE
8 NGE
9 NGE
10 NGE
11 NGE
12 NGE
13 NGE
14 NGE

All syntetic set

sequence string type paired string type
1 NNG NNG
2 NNG NNG
3 NNG NNG
4 NNG NNG
5 NNG octaves: NNG; unissons D type
6  D type octaves: NNG; unissons D type
(7)  D type octaves: NNG; unissons D type
(8) D type octaves: NNG; unissons D type
diapasons:
7  NGE
8  NGE
9  NGE
10  NGE
11  NGE  –
12  NGE  –
13  NGE  –
14  NGE  –

 

11 & 12 course D Minor baroque  (1660-1720 ca.)

All Gut set

sequence string type paired string type
1 HV HV
2 HV HV
3 HV HV
4 HV HV
5 Venice gut HV
6 Venice gut (or Loaded gut C) octaves: HV
7 Venice gut (or Loaded gut C) octaves: HV
8 Venice gut (or Loaded gut C) octaves: HV
9 Venice gut (or Loaded gut C) octaves: HV
10 Venice gut (or Loaded gut C) octaves: HV
11 Venice gut (or Loaded gut C) octaves: HV
(12) Venice gut (or Loaded gut C) octaves: HV

Mixed gut & syntetic set

sequence string type paired string type
1 HV HV
2 HV HV
3 HV HV
4 HV HV
5 Venice gut Venice gut
6 Wound D type octaves: HV
7 Wound D type octaves: HV
8 Wound D type octaves: HV
9 Wound D type octaves: HV
10 Wound D type HV gut octaves
11 Wound D type HV gut octaves
(12) Wound D type HV gut octaves

All syntetic set

sequence string type paired string type
1 NNG NNG
2 NNG NNG
3 NNG NNG
4 NNG NNG
5 NNG NNG
6 Wound D type octaves: NNG
7 Wound D type octaves: NNG
8 Wound D type octaves: NNG
9 Wound D type octaves: NNG
10 Wound D type octaves: NNG
11 Wound D type octaves: NNG
(12) Wound D type octaves: NNG

13 course  D minor german baroque lutes ( swan neck lutes and those with rider for the 12 th & 13 th courses)
(1720-1810 ca.)

All Gut set

sequence string type paired string type
1 HV HV
2 HV HV
3 HV HV
4 Venice gut Venice gut
5 Venice gut Venice gut
6 Open wound ( no codes) octaves: HV
7 Open wound ( no codes) octaves: HV
8 Open wound ( no codes) octaves: HV
9 Open wound ( no codes) octaves: HV
10 Open wound ( no codes) octaves: HV
11 Open wound ( no codes) octaves: HV
12 Open wound ( no codes) octaves: HV
13 Open wound ( no codes) octaves: HV

Mixed gut & syntetic set

Wound “D” types (wound “DE” to imitate the sound of the loaded gut “C”)HV gut octaves

sequence string type paired string type
1 HV HV
2 HV HV
3 HV HV
4 Venice gut Venice gut
5 Venice gut Venice gut
6 Wound D type octaves: HV
7 Wound D type octaves: HV
8 Wound D type octaves: HV
9 Wound D type octaves: HV
10 Wound D type octaves: HV
11 Wound D type octaves: HV
12 Wound D type octaves: HV
13 Wound D type octaves: HV

All syntetic set

sequence string type paired string type
1 NNG NNG
2 NNG NNG
3 NNG NNG
4 NNG  NNG
5 NNG NNG
6 Wound D type octaves: NNG
7 Wound D type octaves: NNG
8 Wound D type octaves: NNG
9 Wound D type octaves: NNG
10 Wound D type octaves: NNG
11 Wound D type octaves: NNG
12 Wound D type octaves: NNG
13 Wound D type octaves: NNG

Gallicon (1710-1800 ca.)

All Gut set

sequence string type paired string type
1 HV HV
2 HV HV
3 HV HV
4 HV octaves: HV
5 Open wound (no code) octaves: HV
6 Open wound (no code) octaves: HV
(7) Open wound (no code) octaves: HV

ALL SYNTETIC SET

sequence string type paired string type
1 NNG NNG
2 NNG NNG
3 NNG NNG
4 NNG octaves or unissons: NNG
5 Wound D type octaves: NNG
6 Wound D type octaves: NNG
(7) Wound D type octaves: NNG

5 COURSES GUITARS (1590-1790 ca.)

General rule:

for repertoires after 1700 ca, expecially the French ones, we racomend wound strings for the 4 and (5) bass courses

 

sequence string type paired string type
1 HV HV
2 HV HV
3 HV HV
4  re- entrant HV unissons: HV
4 foundamental  Venice gut octaves: HV; unissons: Venice gut
5 re- entrant HV  unissons: HV
5 foundamental Venice gut octaves: HV; unissons: Venice gut

or

All syntetic set

sequence string type paired string type
1 NNG NNG
2 NNG NNG
3 NNG NNG
4  re- entrant NNG unissons: NNG
4 foundamental  D type octaves: NNG; unissons: D type
5 re- entrant NNG  unissons: NNG
5 foundamental D type octaves: NNG; unissons: D type
ATTENTION: owing to the large variety of instruments within the lute family, we do not find it possible to suggest any standard stringing.
Please let us have the following information:
  • Type of instrument and vibrating string length.
  • Top string pitch (note and pitch frequency).
  • String tension.
  • Unison or octave disposition of courses.
  • Type of string (plain or loaded Gut, Nylgut®, wound, nylon, etc.).

Gallery

Deatail of a lute bridge of the Germanische National Museum, Nuremberg Kremuenster's lute: detail of a lute's rosetteAntonio Stradivari: 5 coursees- guitar's string indications