Early Guitars and Vihuela

A network for historic guitars and vihuelas

Hello everyone.

This is the first time I post here in EG&V, due to my recent interest in this subject.
I intend to buy a copy of a early guitar, made in Madeira (Portugal), in late XIX century.
The string length is 60 cm. Is this an "average" lenght for guitars in this period? Is there a standard? It seems to me a litlle bit small...

Thank you very much for your help!

Rui Namora

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Hello Rui. 60cm is a bit on the short side, even for the 19th century guitar,  but not unacceptably so. You will see anywhere from 598/600mm to 655mm but I suppose an average would be in the 620 - 630mm range.

Thank you for your prompt reply, Scot.
I've just contacted the luthier, and he told me that he produces both 62 and 60 cm.
60 cm is really small, indeed... Almost a terz :)


I like the 62cm string length for my personal instruments. Players of modern instruments sometimes feel a little cramped until they get used to it. When they find how easy those monster stretches of Legnani and a few others are they are sold.


I make a Viennese/Stauffer model that has a 598mm string length. It's a wonderful little guitar for studio/intimate playing but find by stretching the length to 610 or more there is ample punch for the concert stage.


The terz range is generally +/- 56cm so 60cm is pushing it a bit but doable with the proper strings. I find that 56cm is perfect for the terz instrument so that's what I make mine at.


Keep us posted Rui, I've not seen many instruments from 19th century Portugal and none from Madeira so I, for one, would be excited to follow along.




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