Early Guitars and Vihuela

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I have a student who has recently bought a second-hand baroque guitar, and wishes to buy a set of strings, nylon or nylgut. I tried Bridgewood and Neitzert, but Tom said he couldn't help. The lady phoned the Early Music Shop, who advertise a BG set by Pyramid, but was told they didn't have any in stock and it was a big hassle ordering them.


String length 65cms, pitch 392 or 415. UK based. Can anyone help?



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Thank you Yuri. 

So you're saying a bit bigger gauge won't hurt the guitar. Nice to hear, because these interments look so thin and fragile to me (I am used to classical guitars, you see). 

I'll try. 

Sure the baroque is much more fragile than classical (and even more than steel string folk or jazz guitars) but still it should have some reserve in tension.

Average total tension for baroque guitar is about 28 kgs.

On my guitar I used strings calculated for a=415 but I had to raise it to a=440 with the same string set (this increases tension at about 0,3-0,4 kg per string (about 3 kgs in total). Then in a few months a lowered it back and it sounded better by the way.

(There's more risk in this case that the strings could break than the instrument).

Sometimes it is even recomended to raise strings on a new instrument to give the soundboard more tension to make it sound good quicker.

But you should be reasonable of course...   to secure it you may ask your luthier what is the maximum tension the construction of your guitar can support. No-one knows the instrument better than him.

0.2 - 0.3 kgs per stirng change the sound and feel quite significanltly so I would not go for more.

I also would not do it with many course lutes though. Since the total tension is much higher.

(Though I saw lutes with extremely high tension without any reinforcement - usually it was to increase volume in continuo group. The best thing is to have a special instrument for this of course but it's not that we can always afford it).

Please, consider also that when you switch from classical it may be also not the problem of the instrument or the strings... but your right hand technique, touch and sound production.

Obviously it is much easier to control sound on double courses with a high tension but you get a different more modern guitar sound as a result.


thank your for taking the time to answer, Yuri. 

Interesting to know the value of 28 kgs. 

In fact I change very much my right hand technique when I switch from the classical to the XIXth century to the baroque guitar (and recently to the theorbo). 

I agree with you, I don't want the baroque to sound like the classical guitar. That's why I like to keep it loose enough. Just I wanted to know how luck freedom there is to increase a little bit the tension. And your comment was exactly providing the answer, thank you. 


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