Early Guitars and Vihuela

A network for historic guitars and vihuelas


I am planning to build myself a baroque guitar (based on either the 1688 or 1700 Stradivari), can anyone recommend a reference book that covers the construction of baroque guitars?  I have plenty of books on the construction of modern classical guitars, and on baroque guitar music and stringing etc, but I need something that covers the differences in construction and construction methods used in baroque guitars.  I'd be very grateful for any suggestions.

Views: 9540

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I've not seen one. But then I haven't seen every instrument building book there is (almost every one it feels like but not quite all...) so there may be something out there.


A fellow EG&V member Larry D. Brown has written a nice pictured essay on the subject on his site. You may already have seen it but here is the link: http://www.cincinnatiearlymusic.com/baroque_guitar.html


Makoto Tsuruta has a nice bit on his site (Baroque guitar making step by step): http://www.crane.gr.jp/indexE.html

Last I looked it's still in Japanese so get out your Berlitz dictionary.


And this from an earlier thread on EG&V: http://translate.google.com/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=nl&am...


So, there's material, albeit limited, out there one just has to search for it. But really the techniques for building a Baroque guitar, a lute, an Early Romantic or a traditional modern are pretty much the same so you should be fine with the written material you have and a good, well drawn plan.



Thanks for the links Scot.  A French luthier name Serge Drijakoff has some nice images of the construction process on his  website.  He makes the guitar in rosewood with pear veneered neck, which makes a very pretty negatve of the original.  The pictures of the jigs and moulds were very interesting (although I am fairly confident that is not why he posted them ;o).


I have to good plans; that of the 1700 Rawlins guitar at the NMM and a drawing of the Hill collection 1680 guitar at the Ashmolean.  The drawing of the Rawlins looks like it is a drawing of the way the instrument in its current condition, so some interpretation is required.


Peter Forrester's FoMRHI article on 17c woodwork has already answered some of the questions I had.

If you can find a copy of Robert Lundberg's beautiful book, Historical Lute Construction in a library, it is well worth a look.  He does not address baroque guitars directly, but it offers a wealth of useful information about materials and tools and techniques. http://books.google.com/books?id=9IwIAQAAMAAJ&q=Historical+Lute...
Thanks for the reply Extrafino, I have Lundberg's book, it is indeed a useful resource.

Also "Guitarmaking, Tradition and Technology" by William Cumpiano and Jonathan Natelson is considered the "bible" of modern guitar building books by many.

Though it primarily concerns the construction of  modern steel string and classical guitars, it does go into some detail on historical construction techniques and the differences between them and the modern techniques. It is one of the few books that I think you could actually build an instrument from with no prior experience. It is that detailed. Lundberg's book, though excellent for its historical and theoretical information, doesn't really walk you through all of the steps necessary to build a lute. At least I don't feel confident enough to build one just from that book alone. That was why I bought David Van Edwards "Make your own Renaissance Lute" CDROM course, which like Cumpiano/Natelson's book, walks you through the entire process step by step.

With all due respect to the late Robert Lundberg, this book was published posthumously, I believe. It was garnered from lectures and articles published by the Guild of American Luthiers. I'm sure had he lived long enough, he might have published his own book or electronic course with much more detail. That being said, "Historical Lute Construction" is worth every penny.

Thanks for the replay Mark, Cumpaino and Natelson is the next on my reading list!  David Van Edwards' CD-ROM course is indeed excellent (I have the good fortune to be building a lute in David's evening classes), a "Build your own baroque guitar - an interactive course" would be perfect ;o)

I thought I had posted a reply this morning, but it seems to have vanished in thin air.


Well, another try...

There is a little book about the "Giustiniani" Strad guitar; La Chitarra "Giustiniani"-Antonio Stradivari 1681.  I don't know if it's still available.

You can find more information in the "Cambridge companion to the guitar" where there is a whole chapter about the Stradivari guitars.

Another quite usefull secondary source is the Barber & Harris website.

It's almost all information there is available about the stradivari guitars. Sacconi wrote very little about them.


On Sinnier de Ridder's website there is a nice article about the inside of Voboam guitars (rightclick-->save as). They give the insight that voboam used the 'spanish way' of building (baseplate, soundboard, sides and neck, back) instead of the 'violin or lute way' (soundboard last).



Pictures of the 1679 Sabionari Stradivari guitar online!!! :-D  Just made my day!!!


Many thanks for the reply Jan, the book on the Guistiniani guitar looks nice, there are some pictures of this guitar here, I like the design of the rose, it seems odd to see one that didn't have four- or six-fold symmetry, but it is rather elegant.


Barber and Harris' website is indeed very informative, I also have Barber's plan of the instrument in the Ashmolean, which is very clear.


The article on the Voboam guitars is also very interesting, like Peter Forrester's article I mentioned above, it is reassuring that I won't be completely anachronostic in using the Spanish heel rather than the nailed neckjoint!


I'll get a copy of the "Cambridge companion to the guitar", the list of illustrations on google books suggests it may be just the sort of thing I am looking for.

I've made some pictures of the Vuillaume Strad myself. I will upload them a.s.a.p.

I'm very interested in the Giustiniani rose, which seems constructionally to relate to the one in the Ashmolean instrument.  However the design itself is one which I have copied many times, with slight constructional variations, for a harpsichord-maker friend.  I cannot now remember where the original is, although I have seen it, either in Q. Elizabeth's virginals in the V&A, or a spinet in the Fitzwilliam, Cambridge.  The original has blue paint as mine, and is attached to the underside of the soundboard with a second, also gilded, layer on the upper surface.

 Whether this is suspicious I don't know!  I do like the 'wedding-cake' roses and always enjoy making them, and the suspense of trying to achieve as high a shine as possible to he gilding.  A three-way symmetry is fairly common on cittern roses.  The 5-way Voboam rose seems to be originally orientated so that is symmetrical when the guitar is 'horizontal', being played.

Hi Peter. Well, this is not actually the Guistiniani rose but from the so-called "Vuillaume" - supposedly another Stradivari guitar from the collection of the Cite de la Musique. The Guistiniani guitar hasn't got a rose, only signs of having one in the past. You are quite right that it is quite similar (at least in its geometrical design idea) to the "Hill" Strad rose (see below), which, to me, doesn't seem to be original. There are a few reasons why:

1. It is noticeably larger in diameter than the sound hole.
2. Wooden layers (which do not seem to be made of cypress; although, I would imagine, fruit wood was occasionally used too) look quite chunky as compared to other surviving roses of this kind. This is particularly noticeable on the bottom ornamental layer, which doesn't look as if it was punched (which is how it would have been on the original 16th - 17th century roses where the conical shape of punches is "imprinted" in the wood that it goes through) but rather sawn with a fret saw, and hence its square rather than sloping edges.
3. There is no one single missing part and hardly any damage at all in the rose - the sort of condition that is virtually inevitable on the surviving original roses. Such damages, where the wood chipped off along the grain, would normally reveal lighter coloured, "untanned", parchment layers underneath.

I don't remember seeing the "Vuillaume" design on any instruments in the, now former, V&A collection, unless it was not on display. I haven't been to the Fitzwilliam yet so please do let me know, Peter, if you ever remember where you've seen it. I would really love to make of copy of this rose one day.

Hello Sasha,

Thanks for your info.  I've managed to track mine down to Q. Elizabeth's virginals, although I was wrong to mention a second layer extant on the upper surface of the sound-board.  However there are marks showing that there was one at some time, probably similar to the Fitzwilliam instrument - another one that I have had to copy.

 Incidentally there are two guitars in the Fitzwilliam.  One perhaps a Sellas, ivory, neck shortened.  Second, Fleischer or Tielke - like neck ornamentation, otherwise fairly plain.  String length now 59.2 cm but an obviously new bridge (and frets) which looks to be slightly raised from the original position.  As far as I know, both have never been on show.


© 2023   Created by Jelma van Amersfoort.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service