How to play this chitarra battente?

Hello folks,


Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments in Japan has an interesting collection of string instruments of the guitar/lute family.  This chitarra battente looks somewhat peculiar:



If I understand correctly, a chitarra battente is a five course instrument with mixed double and triple courses.  However, this particular instrument seems to be made as an istrument with ten single courses.  Here are the closeups of its nut and the bridge:




Have any of the folks here seen the instrument like this?  If so, how would it be played?

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    Alexander Batov

    This 'battente' guitar came from the collection of W.E. Hill and Sons, London and was believed to be attributed to Jacobus Stadler. In its original form it would have been just a 'normal' baroque guitar, i.e. with a flat, not angled soundboard, as is presently there. I believe all mother-of-pearl inlays on the soundboard, fingerboard and peg head (embedded, in what looks like, red paste) are also from the time of the conversion, c. mid-late 18th century. So it is quite possible that the entire soundboard is not original (although a good number of similarly converted 17th century guitars have retained their original soundboards), however, it's hard to say for sure without a closer examination.

    The bridge and nut are of course not functional, as Andrew and Scot already noted. In fact, the bridge with strings passing through is fond on another converted 'battente' guitar (by Giorgio Sellas in the Ashmolean museum, Oxford) that have also originated from the Hills. They were, primarily, violin dealers, and it does seem that the early guitar organology was certainly not their forte. Besides, they used some of their finest guitars (Voboam) to decorate the walls of their rooms, such were the times ...

    The rose, or, at least, its uppermost ornamental tier, may still be original. I wonder if the the rest of it (i.e. descending tiers in the middle) is still there? I'd be very much interested if you could take a close-up photograph of the rose (maybe on your next visit to the museum), only perhaps with a bit higher EV setting on your camera, so as to better reveal the tiers. Thanks in advance.
    • up

      Alexander Batov

      Thanks very much, Akira, for a more detailed crop of the rose. It does look a bit simplistic but at the same time not that dis-similar to roses found on some other surviving 17th century guitars. It would still be great to have a close-up shot of it, whenever you have time (there is no hurry!).
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        Alexander MacAllister

        could this be a very early, and simple extended range guitar? Fascinating! If an authentic design, it would be an example of an instrument obviously much closer to the actual Baroque guitar in form, than the chitarrone. It clearly seems to tolerate the present string tension. Certainly some reference to any restoration would be important before drawing any hasty conclusions!