Early Guitars and Vihuela

A network for historic guitars and vihuelas

Good morning to all the members and thank you for letting me join the group.

I am from Guatemala, actually  I am a violin maker, I just finished a Vihuela chambure with the back fluted. I just had a diagram  with no measurements.

¿Does any one can give me some info or advise, I do not have the hight of the bridge or the nut,  I have made it, but now that I put the gut strings I have a buzz in the   3rd fret.  I think the bridge is low, so I made  it higher, but it would be good to have the right hight from the nut to the diapason ( fingerboard) the hight of the strings at the end of  the diapason and the hight of the bridge. If any one can help me I would appreciate it. Thank you in advance and have a wonderful day to all of you.

Feiga Siedler

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Dendrochronology by Stéphane Vaiedelich and Catherine Lavernier: 1376-1496

Strips of parchment with text that reinforce back and sides, by Denis Escudier: 1240-1280

Thank you for this.  Could you give me the reference to their paper and name of the journal in which it appeared and also a link if it is available online.


Further to this, the dendrochronology and other information you mention in your reply of 23 Oct does not tell us when the instrument was made - merely that it might not have been made before 1376 or before the parchment strip was originally created.  Moreover, regarding the latter there are examples of dated instruments using old written parchment, written many years before the instrumen'ts date of construction, and used for joint reinforcement.

I should, therefore, still be grateful if you could kindly give me the reference to V & L's paper and name of the journal in which it appeared and also a link if it is available online.


 The original paper seems to be "Instruments pour demain : conservation & restauration des instruments de musique"  in 9th Journees d'etudes de la Section francaise de l'Institut international de conservation" (Limoges, 15-16 Juin 2000, Champs sur Marne : SFIIC, 2000) It is referred to in an article by Carlos Gonzales in "Estudios sobre la vihuela" published by the Sociedad de la Vihuela in 2007. Gonzales says  that dendochronology of the table gives the dates between 1378 and 1496 and allowing for the fact that the wood may have been planed down it could date from the first 3rd of the 16th century.  Gonzales does say at the end of the article that there is some doubt about the authenticity of the instrument.  Surprise, surprise!  I don't think either source is available on line.  I checked the Sociedad's web page but couldn't find out whether the book was still in print.

Many thanks for this Monica.

It's interesting you mention that in an article Gonzales says that there's some doubt about the authenticity of the instrument.  Others  also raised similar concerns - sometimes also around the extraordinary squashed lower body and atypical shape when compared to early sixteenth century depictions of the vihuela (admittedly some a bit crude).  The Jacquemart-Andrée instrument seems a much better model shape and closer to early depictions but seems strangely out of fashion currently - perhaps buyers are taken with the wonderfully complex back of the Chambure instrument - whatever it is.

Are you aware if any work has been done on the age of woods used by seventeenth century Spanish makers? I can't recall seeing anything.


I am afraid I don't know of any work on the age of woods used in the seventeenth century. Unfortunately not a lot of work seems to have been done on actual 17th century guitars at all - it is very difficult to find out about surviving example - whether they are in their original state and so on. 

I think it is just the novelty of the Chambure instrument that has attracted player's attention. I was actually invited by Stephen Barber to try one of his out.  Not a very useful experience as I hadn't played the vihuela for so long I could hardly find the notes. It had  nylon (not gut which I just typed by mistake!) strings which I hate. There was no question of my ordering one... 

Hola Carlos, agradezco la información y comentarios enviados sobre la vihuela Chambure.  Sin embargo, te comento que el blog que gentilmente respondes era de 5 años atrás.  Michael me proporcionó en esa ocasión las medidas y logré solventar.  La vihuela fue terminada, quedó preciosa, tiene un lindo sonido y entiendo que el propietario Claudio Solares te envió algunas fotos.  Gracias también por compartir los planos con todos.  Cariños, Feiga

Hello Carlos, I do appreciate the information and comments regarding the Vihuela Chambure.  Let me tell you, though, the blog entry was from 5 years ago.  Michael gave me the measurements and I did solve it.  I finished the Vihuela, its beautiful, possess a beautiful sound; I understand the owner Claudio Solares sent you some pictures.  Thanks also for sharing the plans for everybody.  Regards,  Feiga

Yo la he escuchado y,  efectivamente, suena hermoso.

Gracias, Juan Carlos, viniendo de ti,

tomo tu comentario como un halago.  Thank you, Juan Carlos, coming from you, I take your comment as a compliment.

Perdón, corrección: Gracias Juan Pablo Pira,viniendo de ti,tomo tu comentario como un halago. Sorry, correction: Thank you, Juan Pablo Pira, coming from you, I take your comment as a compliment.

The main doubts about the authenticity of the vihuela Chambure were issued by Joseé Luis Romanillos in March 1998, after studying said vihuela in January of the same year. The doubts of Romanillos coincide in part with those issued by Michael Prynne in his letter to Madame de Chambure of October 13, 1966: Instrument too well done and sophisticated for sixteenth-century Spain, and with a form unusual for the time when It is supposed to be built.
If we look at the templates of the vihuelas, both in the historical instruments and in the iconography, iconography included, the incredible variety that appears before us is enormous, and does not allow us to speak of a "platonic" model of vihuela.

As for the age of the woods used by the Spanish violins, we have no information, since in Spain there are no guitars and vihuelas of the 17th century, except for a guide of 5 orders that have just been restored by Françoise and Daniel Sinnier de Ridder .

J.L.Romanillos report to the Musée de la Musique 20th. March 1998.
CONCLUSION: "SD 748 was made, in my opinion, in the latter part of XIXth century by a very able instrument maker and as a representation of a Spanish vihuela following the body shape pf a French instrument such as that of Cellier or similar type instrument. It shows a high degree of applied instrument making craftsmanship, in particular that of the back and the finished surfaces of the ribs and staves in ny opinion much too refined for the period that the instrument is supposed to represent."


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