Early Guitars and Vihuela

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Hi everyone!


I have acquired my first baroque guitar and am in the process of tarting it up.


First off, I'd like to put on an endpin or button for a strap. I don't care for a metal endpin such as those found on modern steel-string acoustic guitars. Would any of the following work with our 'period' aesthetic:




I'm eyeing the snakewood or ivoroid ones.


Next, I'm wondering about straps. Again, I don't really want to use those broad rock guitar straps found in guitar shops - too many smiley faces, skulls and silly designs. Most baroque guitar players I've seen seem to use rather broad ribbons as straps. Could I simply get a length of ribbon trim from here:




What does everyone else use?

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I would like to know too if it is safe - I guess there is a strut in the right place. Anyone know?

You have a Thomann too I think.


I am sure strong ribbon should be fine as long as it is attached well. I have seen some very simple broad leather straps which look comfortable

Hi, Edward,


I don't think you would necessarily need a strap unless you stand up to play it. Sit down on a chair, put a small cushion (something like a pillow) on your right thigh, and put your guitar on top of it. You may want to put a piece of micro fiber cloth or chamois skin between the cusion and the guitar so that the guitar won't slip.


Or, you can just sit on a low chair or a stool and hold the guitar just like usual flamenco or steel string guitar players. That seems to be the way Rob (MacKillop) plays it in his videos posted on his website:




Hope you would enjoy your guitar anyway.

My wife did some sort of braiding/macrame or other knot work on linen string to make a strap.  It's perfectly comfortable.  I find no need for a broad strap because the the instrument is so light-weight.  In fact, all I did was wrinkle ribbon until it became uncomfortable, so I find the homemade strap to be perfect.  Very strong and robust, and the knot work slips easily over the end pin.


I believe the base of any guitar (the bottom of the body where you would likely put an end-pin for a strap) is supported by a block of wood.   This block, opposite the neck-block, provides a base to but-join the two side pieces.  So it should be strong enough to hold a pin and strap.  I hope any luthiers on the list will correct me if I'm wrong.


OTOH, I would not drill into any guitar to make a hole for a pin...  Doesn't the hole need to be tapered?  I would ask a professional to do it.  It should be rather inexpensive, and well worth the peace of mind...  My opinion...

Good assessment of what needs to be done, Chris.


The endblock on most guitars (if not all) is plenty strong to support the weight placed on an endpin. The endpin doesn't "have" to be tapered but as ready made parts have the taper it's easiest to fit if the hole is tapered. It's easily done with a standard peghole reamer after the inital hole is drilled.


Good advice from Chris, to take it to a professional. It doesn't have to be a guitar maker, violin maker/repair folks are just as qualified if not more so, to fix you up. I've had instruments in where the person tried to install it themselves, failed and needed some serious repairs.


It really is not a difficult project at all but unless one is good with tools and/or has nerves of steel, I'd advise against it. You are afterall drilling a hole in your prized instrument. A qualified luthier/repair person, accustomed to installing endpins,  will take less than 10 minutes to fit it so cost is often minimum shop time (if that) plus parts. I just install them for the cost of the part and I'm sure many others do also.

Let's hope mel would chime in here.  He has removed the top of the very Thomann Barocque guitar recently:




He would tell you how the end block looks like.



Thanks! I've been in touch with Mel and he's given me specific detailled instructions on what to do with the Thomann when I get it to a luthier.

Thanks, Chris & Scot!


Having less than zero experience with woodworking, I think I'll get a professional to put the endpin in. I've decided on the ivoroid endpin, as it seems inexpensive and reasonably ok-looking :D


Meanwhile, I'll just hit up the haberdashery shops and see if I can find any nice looking ribbons to use for a strap.

Here is another idea for the value-oriented (cheap) among us:

Go to your favorite clothing retailer at the end of your summer season and pick up several pairs of shorts that come with their own cloth belt. My wife bought a bunch last fall at Kmart for around $1 each! I've made one strap so far with one of them for my vihuela. As belts, they pretty much suck, but as straps, I think they're rather keen. I remove the useless metal loop thingys that are supposed to be the fastening device, and use an old shoe lace to tie through the leather loop, and around the headstock. Wallah.

By the way, I'm not that crazy about the metal strap button either (though my vihuela isn't exactly historically accurate anyway), but the hole needed for the screw is very small and can act as a pilot for the larger hole needed to make a tapered hole for a wood end pin that I will turn myself......someday...
Is your vihuela a lefty?
Yes sir it is. I'm just another frustrated lefty who got into building instruments because there is so little out there for us-especially those of us unlucky enough to be bitten by the early music bug! Just try finding a nice used left-handed lute! Ooh, how about a left-handed theorbo? Dime a dozen! : )

The broad rock guitar strap is supposed to carry a 8-10 pound instrument for something like two hours.  Since your baroque guitar weighs only a fraction of that, I believe you are free to use  something more delicate.

Since the strap is there mainly for balance, the dark ribbon strap seems like a good choice since it does not call the listener/viewer attention to the wrong place.  I would avoid anything too flashy, baroque guitars usually have many nice parts that are nice to look at: the rossette, the bridge...


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