Early Guitars and Vihuela

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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.

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This Japanese violin maker, who studied violin making in Cremona and works there, figured out that Stradivari designed the body of the violin based on a decagon and the propotion of the golden section (the text is all in Japanese, but please look at the figures):



He says that Strad applied his method to design his guitar, too (the guitar template he shows is from Stradivari Museum in Cremona).  Comparing this template with the image posted by Peter (CSD02725), the proportion of the body seems to be a little different: the width of the lower bout of Peter's image looks a little too wide.


If Stradivari had designed his instrument in such a meticulous way, would he have allowed this discrepancy?

"Build your own baroque guitar - an interactive course" would be perfect ;o)"

Yeah, it would! He mentioned an upcoming "build your own viol" course somewhere when I purchased the 'Build your own Renaissance Lute" course, but I haven't heard any updates and he hasn't responded to email. I really look forward to such a course.

You're very fortunate to be attending his classes in person. I wish that were possible for me!

Translation of the Japanese site.

It's at least interesting...

I dont know if you know Kevin Coates book about instruments and geometry?

There are a couple of very nice instruments in it. Like the Dias and the Choko.



Hi Gavin,

I work for the National Music Museum and we have one of the extant Strad guitars. The Rawlins, made in 1700.


In may of 2009 I worked in a full size and very detailed technical drawing of this guitar; it is available though our website at:


If you have some questions about its construction I will be happy to help.

Best regards


Hi Jonathan, I already have your drawing of the Rawlins Strad, which is excellent, very clear and detailed, the inset photographs work really well (I also have Barber's drawing of the Ashmolean Strad, which is also very good).  I have had to shelve my plans to make a Baroque guitar for the moment as I am not confident enough in my woodworking skills, so I am going to build another lute instead as a confidence-building exercise before I attempt a baroque guitar.  Many thanks for your offer of help, it is much appreciated, and I expect I will have questions once I start work!

best regards



Can you give me the string length of this 1700 Strad? There is no info on the NMM web page and I found 3 possible values on the internet (640mm, 650mm and 743mm).

Hi, it is 640mm according to Jonathan's excellent drawing (which fortunately is hanging up in my office until I find time to build the thing)

Thanks! I hope you will eventually find time to make use of this drawing.

Hello Gavin, Jonathan,  It has just struck me that 64 cm is rather short for a baroque guitar string length.  I don't have your drawing, but on-screen I can see that the present 12th fret is some distance from the mid-string-length position.  Has the neck been shortened?  As happened to so many guitars around 1800.

The Stradivarius guitar (1688) in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford has a string length of 74.2cms which is on the long side.

I just wanted to thank everybody who contributed to this thread, I have now started building a baroque guitar, which will be mostly based on the Ashmolean Stradivarius.  This is my first v-joint, the seams are a little more visible than I would like, but they are less visible on the back and the front will be veneered, so hopefully nobody will find out!

Many thanks to Gerald Adams (my woodcarving teacher) for his help with this.

Great! The Hill is a beautiful guitar.

If you are making a Stradivari be shure to check out my article on his guitars in American Lutherie of this summer.

There are some later additions and changes made to the Hill guitar that almost any contemporary maker copies.


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