A network for historic guitars and vihuelas
Recently I purchased a beautiful renaissance guitar made by Mr. Forrester, the image of which I use for my avatar. It had been strung with the rectified nylon which I replaced with the real gut made by Bernd Kürschner.
The problem I encountered when I replaced the strings was: where to put the bourdon of the fourth course, on the bass side or on the treble side?
According to my limited resources, the preface by Mr. James Tyler to the facsimile edition of the guitar tabulature books by Simon Gorlier and Guillaume Morlaye, published by Editions Chanterelle in 1980 suggests that the bourdon should be put on the treble side.
On the contrary, the tuning suggested by Juan Bermudo indicates that it should be on the bass side. For the comparison, the tuning for the vihuela suggested by Bermudo also indicates that the bourdons (if the lower courses are tuned in octaves) should be put on the bass side. The images of Bermudo tuning are from "The Guitar And Its Music" by Mr. Tyler and Mr. Paul Sparks, published by Oxford Univ. Press in 2002.
The images on Mr. Alexander Batov's website tell that his four course guitars as well as vihuelas have bourdons on the bass sides.
Please bear in mind that I don't intend to accuse Mr. Tyler for suggesting two contradictory possibilities. The two publications mentioned above are more than two decades apart from each other, so there is no wonder that new findings and further researches have changed or corrected the previous common belief.
Any suggestions are welcomed.
after four years, have you decided whether you prefer the bourdon on the treble or bass side, and which is more useful?
thank you for your help :D
Unfortunately I haven't encountered any further historical or graphical evidence to help me decide.
After experimenting both possibilities myself, however, I felt that the fourth course with the bourdon on the treble side is much easier to hold than the bourdon on the bass side. With the bourdon on the trebel side, the fourth course may sound a bit too bright, compared to those of other courses, because the treble string is plucked more clearly with the thoumb.
In spite of the results of my humble experiments, the fourth course of my RG is strung wth two bourdons: the treble string had been broken and I've run out of the spare 0.42mm gut. The four courses sound more evenly, though.