Early Guitars and Vihuela

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Hello folks,


Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments in Japan has an interesting collection of string instruments of the guitar/lute family.  This chitarra battente looks somewhat peculiar:



If I understand correctly, a chitarra battente is a five course instrument with mixed double and triple courses.  However, this particular instrument seems to be made as an istrument with ten single courses.  Here are the closeups of its nut and the bridge:




Have any of the folks here seen the instrument like this?  If so, how would it be played?

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Looks like the work of a museum curator's idea of a "restoration." Inquiry and investigation will likely reveal the bridge and nut to have been replaced...
I'd have to agee with Andrew. The bridge does not look correct, too short and wrong design. From the original instruments I've seen [ not very many I must add, it's not a very popular instrument here in Western Canada :) ] the strings went over the bridge much like a mandolin or cittern. The nut is wrong also, wrong spacing.

The museum should get in contact with a qualified restoration person to make things correct. There are a couple very fine luthiers in Japan, that I know of, that could fix it up in no time. It's an easy fix.
Thank you for the responces!

Hmm...you seem to be right. I'd have to figure out how to convince the people at the museum to correct the situation instead of figuring out how to play this beast.

The museum also has a Pages guitar that is supposed to have been a 6-course 12-string instrument (the seemingly original bridge has 12 string holes) but it is strung with 6 strings and the head is replaced with a Panormo-style one with head machines...

Oh, well.
The Pages sounds interesting. The 6 course guitar was popular for a short period of time so I think a good number were converted to 6 strings early on.

In Spain I saw an original 6 string Pages with the peghead similar (a bit longer and finer) to the one we think if as Panormo. I have some photos of it somewhere. I'll see if I can find them and post some. Everyone copied everyone else to some degree so I'm not convinced that Panormo invented the "modern styled" machine head style we associate with him. I kind of think Pages thought up that one.

I'm open to be proven wrong.
Hi, Scot,

thank you for your input. Here is the Pages guitar in question and the closeups of its bridge and head.

Hope this would be of any help.
This 'battente' guitar came from the collection of W.E. Hill and Sons, London and was believed to be attributed to Jacobus Stadler. In its original form it would have been just a 'normal' baroque guitar, i.e. with a flat, not angled soundboard, as is presently there. I believe all mother-of-pearl inlays on the soundboard, fingerboard and peg head (embedded, in what looks like, red paste) are also from the time of the conversion, c. mid-late 18th century. So it is quite possible that the entire soundboard is not original (although a good number of similarly converted 17th century guitars have retained their original soundboards), however, it's hard to say for sure without a closer examination.

The bridge and nut are of course not functional, as Andrew and Scot already noted. In fact, the bridge with strings passing through is fond on another converted 'battente' guitar (by Giorgio Sellas in the Ashmolean museum, Oxford) that have also originated from the Hills. They were, primarily, violin dealers, and it does seem that the early guitar organology was certainly not their forte. Besides, they used some of their finest guitars (Voboam) to decorate the walls of their rooms, such were the times ...

The rose, or, at least, its uppermost ornamental tier, may still be original. I wonder if the the rest of it (i.e. descending tiers in the middle) is still there? I'd be very much interested if you could take a close-up photograph of the rose (maybe on your next visit to the museum), only perhaps with a bit higher EV setting on your camera, so as to better reveal the tiers. Thanks in advance.
Hi, Alexander, thank you very much for your imput. Actually I have an assignment to go to Hamamatsu next Monday, but I'm not sure if I could share time to visit the musium.

Here is the crop of the rosette processed from the original image posted above. Would it do for you? Further examination would be much appreciated.

As Alexander noted, the caption says that it is made by Jacob Stadler from Vienna, and it was made in 1624.
Thanks very much, Akira, for a more detailed crop of the rose. It does look a bit simplistic but at the same time not that dis-similar to roses found on some other surviving 17th century guitars. It would still be great to have a close-up shot of it, whenever you have time (there is no hurry!).
Thank you for your further insight, Alexander. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to visit the museum today. Am looking forward to visiting there and take the pictures of details of the interesting instruments there next time!
could this be a very early, and simple extended range guitar? Fascinating! If an authentic design, it would be an example of an instrument obviously much closer to the actual Baroque guitar in form, than the chitarrone. It clearly seems to tolerate the present string tension. Certainly some reference to any restoration would be important before drawing any hasty conclusions!


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