Early Guitars and Vihuela

A network for historic guitars and vihuelas

Hi, everybody, this is my first post to this forum.

Recently I had the chance to purchase a beautiful used renaissance guitar made by Mr. Peter Forrest.  The same instrument as mine was used by Nigel North on his album "Guitar Collection".

My version seems to have been treated very carefully.  I've found no blemishes or dints except for the fret marks which are inevitable, of course.  I'm very happy with my purchase.

The only initial problem is that I cannot identify when the guitar was made.  I can read the label inside through the rosette.  There is Mr. Forrester's name and address but no date or year of the completion.  The guitar that Nigel North used was made in 1978.  According to recent post by Mr. Forrester, he has been concentrating on the citterns for about a decade.  So, mine should have made somewhere in the last quarter of the 20th century.  :)

The attached image below is of my guitar.  I would be very happy if Mr. Forrest would chime in here, but any comments would be welcomed and appreciated!

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Welcome to the network.

What can we say about your guitar... simplicity and beauty. I like the bridge very much. Regarding the date, check the case for other evidence. Maybe a previous owner left something in there -a letter, a receipt, a card, a picture- that might help.
Thank you for your kind comment. So far as I'm aware, simplicity was part of the aesthetic of the Renaissance which I would highly value. The vaulted back is another beautiful part of the instrument.

As for the documents, there's nothing left except for the rectified nylon strings which I'm going to replace as soon as the real gut ones arrive.
Nice to see that one of my older instruments is still going strong! I'm afraid that I never dated my guitars. The earliest that I sold were in 1978 to James Tyler and Betho Davezac and both were used for recordings. I was using a string length of 54cm at that time; later reduced to 51cm. Many were made using cherry wood and ebony - is this one? And where did you get it?

I hope that it gives you good service.

Peter Forrester.
Wow, it's great to receive the reply and info from the very maker! Thank you very much! I bought it online from England and it was delivered several days ago.

The scale of my guitar is 54cm, so it must be one of your earliest models. The pegs, the fingerboard and the black ribs of the back are of ebony and the side, the neck and white ribs of the back seems to be of either sycamore or cherry. The bridge is painted or dyed in black, so I'm not sure of the material. The top seems to be of one-piece spruce (I cannot see any seam).

I would be glad if you would provide more info on the guitar. I will attach two more photos of my guitar.

Thanks for posting the new pictures. I think that the woods are cherry and ebony (I later had a supply of yoke wood, a very good ebony substitute) and the bridge would be pear wood, which glues better than ebony, stained or painted. The fingerboard looks to be still slightly thicker at the nut, to allow a little correction should the action pull up. (Copied from the Stegher in Kilmarnock, and a privately-owned Voboam). I must have made it within a couple of years of 1980. The design was based on the Morlaye title page, with some help from the RCM Diaz, and I think that mine were the first 4-course guitars produced commercially (in the 20th c. of course!). I made around forty altogether and have now given away my mould to help concentration on cittern research.
The neck joint has a slipper foot. There are two bars, above and below the rose, with the lower angled to be closer to the bridge on the treble side; and maybe a third near the neck block.
It looks to be almost new in the pictures! Hope you use it and enjoy it,
Thank you very much for the detailed description of the guitar. The fingerboard is indeed thicker at nut. Both the neck and the top are still in good shape. The heights of the 1st single and the treble in the 4th course strings above the flush fingerboard at the point where the neck and the body meet are exactly 4mm and it is very comfortable to play the guitar.

The guitar sounds fantastic even with the current rectified nylon strings. The real gut strings will arrive shortly and I'm looking forward to "taste" the sound of the more authentic combination. Then the weakest link will be myself!
I've found that I misspelled Mr. Forrester's last name twice in my initial post. My apologies!

Hi Mr Sakamoto,

     How much does your Renaissance guitar costs?  Does it sounds different in tone from the baroque guitar?

Hope to hear from you.

Hi, Yong,


Thanks for stopping by.  Although I would rather like to refrain from disclosing the price, one thing for sure is that the instrument was well worth the money.  The guitar came in an excellent condition with almost no trace of usage except for the fret marks.  One big bonus is, as mentioned above, that the great Nigel North recorded with the same Forrester guitar strung with the real gut, which is a great reference of how this particular guitar should sound like.  Mine is strung with the real gut now and I cannot hope for more!

Thanks for your reply.  I also hope you can tell me if I build a baroque guitar using tropical wood ( I live in malaysia , tropical climate)  for the sound board would it affect the tone very much?  Should I buy wood  ( spruce, cedar, rosewood ) from some of the websites. 

     I am using a spanish made classical guitar for playing baroque guitar music but I really would like to use a baroque guitar.


As for the tone of the guitar, I cannot say for sure because I haven't yet heard the sound of a baroque guitar live yet.  That said, Nigel North says in his linar notes for his "Guitar Collection" album mentioned above that "I begin with the smallest, lightest and most lute-sounding instrument, the 16th century 4 course guitar..." and "the guitar was often constructed with a vaulted back which gave it a lute-like sound."




You posted while I'm typing my postscript here!


As for the wood for the guitar, many members here who are luthiers will give you more definite answers.  So far as I'm aware, the only guitar-family instruments that uses tropical wood for the soundboards are ukuleles (Koa, Mahogany, Rosewood) and steel string guitars like Martin 000-15 (mahogany.  some other special Martins use Koa for the top).  I would guess it is better to use spruce for the soundboard for any historical instruments including baroque guitars.  The online shops like Stewart-MacDonald or Luthiers Marcantile International would be handy and good sorces for tonewoods like spruce for soundboards and woods for sides and backs.


Hope this would be of any help.

Oops, sorry for my typo:


"Marcantile" should be "Mercantile".


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