Early Guitars and Vihuela

A network for historic guitars and vihuelas

Hi Guys, 

This is my first post on this site, I've been stalking the forum for a while though :-)

I'm interested in building a guitar based off the Stradivari Sabionari design, but can't seem to find any blueprints online. There are a couple of sites that show the construction, but none with dimensions. 

Would any of you be able to help or point me in the right direction please? 



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Note that this instrument has been very heavily repaired and 'restored'.  Little, if any, original barring is present and the neck, peghead, bridge, are not original Strad.  Indeed, the latest neck is too long in relation to the body compared with the other extant instruments he made and which are much closer to their original state. MH

Thanks Martyn, 

Yes, I've read about the issues due to age and modifications over the years. I'm actually more interested in building a guitar dimensioned like the Sabionari - doesn't have to be exact, but the body shape should be close. 

Would you know of any sources where I can get a sense of the length / width etc?



Dear Karan,

On the following link, scroll to p.214, where you will find all the necessary measurements.:

Size wise, both the Sabionari and Hill guitars are pretty much identical. So, you can either use the picture from the same book or find a better one on www, re-scale accordingly, then trace out the body contour on a template for the mould etc.

The bracing on the Sabionari, as Martyn already mentioned, was altered in early-mid 19th century, with an extra brace added, each in front and behind the bridge. Hence the rather shrieky, nasal sound character, with no mellowness and depth to it. So, use only two bars, i.e. one below and one above the sound hole.

Stradivari was probably influenced by the French school of guitar making and so used no braces on the back (quite on the opposite, flat-back Italian-made guitars from earlier in the century that I have come across with, all had braced backs). Even more so, the backs on both the guitars are rather thin, so the projection and sound output can change rather noticeably if you touch or lean against it. If I were you, I'd use at least two - three bars to render the back more rigid, which will also make it less prone to bend / bulge under the pull of strings.

Hope this helps.

Thank you for the last paragraph in particular, I am trying to make a guitar based on the Hill instrument and I was a bit concerned at the idea of an unbraced back, and I will certainly follow your recommendation.

Thanks for the detailed message Alexander! 

I found the link to the google books page yesterday as well, and noted the dimensions as a starting point :-) 

So on the soundboard, you're saying use a ladder bracing system, with only two bars? The bar below the sound hole at a diagonal, kind of like the Ashmolean Plan https://www.facebook.com/bigfootguitarsindia/videos/vb.443946682302... ?

If so, that simplifies things.. Also, would you or anyone else have an idea of a ballpark top and back thickness used by Strad on his guitars? 

Thanks again for the help!



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