Early Guitars and Vihuela

A network for historic guitars and vihuelas

I would be grateful for any information on two aspects of the Spanish six (double) course  guitar introduced there in the second half of the eighteenth century and which continued to be played into the nineteenth:

Fretting: - as far as I'm aware all extant instruments of this type have fixed metal frets on the neck but, of course, some could be replacements for earlier tied frets especially for the earliest of these instruments. Is there any evidence for the use of tied frets on these guitars?;

Stringing:- overwound strings were employed on early six single string guitars and there's some evidence to support the use of overwound on the lowest courses of the six course Spanish instrument. Is there any evidence for the use of just plain (perhaps loaded) gut strings on the fourth and fifth courses of these instruments?

Martyn Hodgson

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Not sure precisely what instruments you are referring to or the precise date  but in 1773 Vargas y Guzman says that although guitars usually have wire frets he has included information about how to place moveable frets in case any aficionado needs to know how to do this. He refers to  bordones in the plural as entorchados and gives some details as to how the gauges of the different courses match those of the violin. 

Many thanks Monica,

I had in mind Spanish six course instruments instruments from about the 1760/70s through to the end of the century  -  the peak, based on extant musical sources and instruments made, seems to be the 1780/90s. 

Regarding my particular query about fretting: thank you for the reference to Vargas y Guzman, this is certainly apposite and suggests fixed metal frets were by then (1773) becoming common but that tied frets continued to be employed too.



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