Early Guitars and Vihuela

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Hi, I am new to this forum and have a question. I am in the process of making a "baroque style" 5 course guitar (which is a lot of fun!). I was wondering if it is ok to use violin tuning pegs on the instrument, they seem to have the correct dimensions or would they look a bit odd?

Thanks David

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Thank you for your reply and links Poul. I think perhaps the ebony would work ...  

The available commercial over-the-counter violin pegs are really rather too thick ('fat') for guitar (or lute) pegs.  

A thinner shank makes fine tuning easier (ie a fraction of a turn on a thick peg stretches the string more than with a thinner one.  Also look at original pegs or drawings of.

Regarding material, the traditional plum wood (see Mace et al) is, in my view, the best being hard enough to withstand wear but able to bed in better than ebony, which can also warp out of round.  Pear (often stained black) is a good substitute for plum provided it's of the harder/denser variety.


Thanks Martyn and Poul. I haven't been able to find a source of pearwood or plum wood in NZ (apart from the  neighbour trees!). Would boxwood be better than ebony? I have used ebony pegs on my violins before, and have a peg shaver I use. What dimensions would you recommend for the guitar? Actually I am still struggling with trying to cut out a 3 layer rose so may be a while before I have to worry about fitting the pegs! :-)

Hi Folks 

I have a new question which will show my ignorance. Having completed construction of the stradivarius style 5 course guitar I am now trying to add strings. Nor being a guitar player (yet !) I am having a little difficulty. I bought a set of Aquila nylgut 92C baroque guitar strings but I suspect, on receiving them, these are not the correct gauge for this guitar, far too large, except for the trebles. Does anyone have any advice as to what strings I should get or how I could use these.

Many thanks



Dear David,

First of all, you can check this very useful tool : https://www.cs.helsinki.fi/u/wikla/mus/Calcs/wwwscalc.html

Once you've got the scale and proper gauges, you can order your choice of single strings at SBM, for instance : though the La Bella baroque guitar strings set is discontinued, you can buy single strings in the "rectified nylon" category. They may not be as good as kurschner strings but they are quite good and also cheaper; I have a la bella strings set on my renaissance guitar and I'm quite satisfied with them.

Hope this helps,

Best regards,


Dear David,

Aquila are generally very good with their sets. Can you describe or photograph the string set you have, so we can help you determine what they are? I would also need to know the scale of the baroque guitar you made.

PS: If this is the set you bought: https://allstringsnylon.com/aquila-92c-nylgut-baroque-guitar-10-str... , it seems totally wrong for a baroque guitar. It seems to be a set for a 10 string single strung classical. If I were you, return them. 

This is a basic set for baroque (five course) guitar that I have used in the past: https://www.thomann.de/gb/pyramid_baroque_guitar_strings.htm

Better is to order individual strings in 'new nylgut' from Aquila, but you need to know which of the many different tunings you want on you baroque guitar. Here is what I use on a 65 cm scale guitar in 18th century style, so with 'bordones' on the fourth and fifth course:

- course 1: new nylgut nr 48 (single string)

- course 2: new nylgut nr 60 (2 strings)

- course 3: new nylgut nr 70 (2 strings)

- course 4: new nylgut nr 46 for the octave and D094 for the lower string

- course 5: new nylgut nr 64 for the octave and D128 for the lower string. 

Always order extras of the thinner strings. 


Thank you all for this great feedback!

On your advice I contacted Aquila and they recommended the following rectified nylon strings (my guitar has a string length of 658mm).

1x 52NG

2X 64NG

2X 76NG




This is for an octave on the 4th course and re-entrant 5th. Does this seem correct they seem higher than you recommend Jelma? I assume they have higher tension?

The 92C were definitely the wrong strings and designed for a classical guitar as you correctly suggested. 

Good idea to order extra of the thinner strings will do that.

Thank you again for your help


Hi David, yes they seem a bit thicker, but that should be OK. Maybe start out on a slightly lower pitch than the one you are aiming for; a tone or semitone below the eventual pitch. Then see how you are feeling about the tension: does it seem OK or maybe a bit sloppy or too tense :-) Then you can decide to tune it up to the eventual pitch (or not). 

Btw, I noticed Aquila's gauges above are notated as 'NG', which is nylgut, not rectified nylon. Do make sure what they intend to send you. Nylon and Nylgut do not have the same diameters for the same pitches, and the two sound and behave quite differently.

Hi Jelma, I checked the invoice and he has written rectified nylgut! Not sure what the rectified means. After your message I asked to change to slightly thinner strings and octaves 4th and 5th courses. Thanks for your advice re tuning... Once I get the strings I will let you know the  result. Assuming my guitar is actually playable. 

I think nylgut is closer in sound to gut, so preferable.


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