A network for historic guitars and vihuelas
I am not a vihuela expert, can you give some links to pictures (museum instruments or historical iconography) or some references of 6-course vihuela with a domed back ? This would clarify for me which type of instruments you intend to build
This is a very timely question and, I hope, discussion as I am also embarking upon making a vihuela next month. I have been scouring the internet for more information regarding construction techniques, plans, etc. My inclination at this point is to make a vihuela based on the Dias instrument as I particularly like the shape and proportions. Here are some links I have found useful.
Great information from Clive Titmus on his webpage: http://www.thisisclassicalguitar.com/vihuela-history-and-style/
My best find is this thesis paper by Marco Kaiser Mori on historical vihuela building techinique:
It would be interesting to know if his building techniques have changed over time.
Looking forward to more discussion,
Perhaps our discussion will spur some of our makers to put together a method for building vihuelas although the possible paucity of extant instruments would make it difficult to have a definitive method. I say "possible" because there is some thought that many of the surviving baroque guitars are actually vihuelas that were converted to guitars when popularity of the vihuela and it's music waned (e.g. the Diaz instrument). This brings up the possibility that guitar and vihuela building technique overlap significantly. Mori's thesis on vihuela construction (linked above) is a great resource and discusses many of the finer points including the rose. He relates:
According to extant examples, the roses of guitars and vihuelas are mainly cut in parchment; but it is striking how the proposal of ordinances twice mention that they should be made of boxwood and not of parchment.
So I would imagine that either is acceptable. These can be made using several methods that are discussed elsewhere in the forum or purchased from luthiers or rose makers (like myself). I read somewhere, perhaps it was Clive's post, that it is thought that many makers bought there roses instead of making them themselves. However, there was some evidence that Stradivarius's shop could have made their own (?).
Regarding the radius, I would say it is common for luthiers to carve a "dip" into their instruments so the soundboard and the strings have greater clearance for the fingers of the right hand. I don't know about the back. I, unfortunately, do not have much more information although Lundberg's book on historical lute making might have the pertinent details.
Another point is the joining of the neck and headstock which in the Chambure vihuela is a faux joint. Luthiers are welcomed to add more details!
Mori has some interesting takes on how to join the back and top using a lot less pressure than I have seen. It would be interesting to know if he has continued building this way or if his technique has evolved.
Would love to hear comments from experienced luthiers.