Early Guitars and Vihuela

A network for historic guitars and vihuelas

Hi friends,

Could anyone please tell me the difference in man-hours to make a baroque guitar, (without the rosette) vs. an archlute, or any double-neck lute with no more than 15 ribs? (liutto attiorbato, solo theorbo, etc) I know the ornamentation is a tricky affair because the baroque guitars' inlays are part of the soundboard & peghead so these can't be left out, but let's talk about the basic archlute with no ornamentation. 

My luthier is arguing that making an archlute is equivalent to building about 6 baroque guitars, which I find nonsensical. So I want to confront him with whatever info you kindly supply.

Thanks, kind regards.

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The 'man-hours' approach is a tricky one whenever outside the factory line. I don't want to romanticize, but the making of an instrument extends for beyond than the handicraft itself.

Are you two bargaining about the price? If it looks desproportionate to his other work he is not talking in time nor shop-time then, that's for how much he values his time and work regarding that specific project, I don't think anything we could say could be a righteous word to that subject. My advice is you talk to other luthiers, it'll surely be most productive for you than the confronting


THanks Antonio.

Yes, we are setting the price. He is a fine luthier who has made mostly ukuleles and charangos. Last year he made his first Baroque guitar for me, which turned out beautiful. Next I got the lute construction book from the lute society, but he didn't find it clear enough so I got the Van Edwards DVD course. But he's scared of the project and thinks he'll spend the time equivalent of building 6-9 guitars, which of course is not true. So that's why I wanted a reasonable estimate in man-hours. 

Thanks, best regards,


Depending on your location, I would seek out another luthier who specializes in lutes or "early" instruments for more reasons than just man-hour costs. Most luthiers specialize in a certain area. It's not to say that if you have been building dreadnoughts for 20 years you are too set in your ways to build a lute, but you should at least find someone who embraces the project with some enthusiasm so that enough care will be taken in the details that make these instruments different.

When you have never built one before, a lute like instrument is a whole different species than a guitar.

What kind of baroque guitar did he make? Flat back or bowl back?


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