Early Guitars and Vihuela

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Fabricatore guitar in the process of restoration. Note the diagonal brace on the soundboard similar to Baroque guitar bracing

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Comment by Alexander Batov on June 2, 2009 at 22:15
Your doubts are not that unfounded at all. Those 19th century guys who did such conversions seem to have had a really perverted idea about the soundboard acoustics ;) If you strip off everything apart from just two bars on both sides of the sound hole that'll be what it should be in its original 'incarnation'; no tentellones, no 'continuous' type of lining, radial bars, vertical re-enforcements on the sides etc. I think French 17th century guitar makers were following the earlier, or indeed contemporary, Spanish vihuela / guitar tradition more rigorously than, say, Italians (with Sellas being as a kind of 'epicentre' of it). Integrated neck / neck block construction, for example, is just another feature that links it with the Spanish tradition. Also note that the Spanish didn't digress into any angled bar idea as French makers did in the 19th century (Lacote etc) but came up with developing their famous fan-bar structure in the lower area of the soundboard that I think worked brilliantly with the Spanish late 18th - early 19th century 6-course guitars, as it still does now with classical guitar!
Comment by mel on June 2, 2009 at 20:38
Alexander: I had my doubts about the Smithsonian Guitar. For one, the size and placement of that brace is rather odd. I would think that a brace of that mass running under the bridge would dampen the top. Could you comment on whether it was a common practice to put in tentellones as depicted or do you think those were added on later as well ?
Comment by Alexander Batov on June 2, 2009 at 19:50
Thank you, mel. Oh well, the diagonal brace on the Ashmolean Strad guitar is certainly not original, as is its bridge and very much likely the rose. The same, by the way, goes for Stradivari's 'Guistiniani' guitar which is in private collection in Italy. Even more so on the Voboam that you have pointed to (thanks very much for that!). In a way, this is a fairly 'standard' picture that can be found in a good number of baroque guitars that underwent conversions in the early 19th century. You can see more examples of similar barring arrangements (which again have nothing to do with the original!) in Florence Getreau's article "Rene Voboam: des factours pour La Guitarre Royalle" (in "Instrumentistes et Luthiers Parisiens XVIIe - XIXe siecles", Paris 1988), recent catalogue of the collection of the RCM (London) etc. The only bars (two) that may still be original here are those just beneath and above the sound hole, that's all!
Comment by mel on June 2, 2009 at 18:15
The Ashmolean Stradivarius guitar has a diagonal brace as well as this example of a Voboam in the Smithsonian Museum : http://www.flickr.com/photos/funcrunch/3159347206/
Comment by Alexander Batov on June 2, 2009 at 13:08
I wonder if you can point to some specific examples of surviving baroque guitars that were originally made with diagonal braces like the one you are referring to?
Comment by Eugene on May 29, 2009 at 1:39
Nice. Which Fabricatore?

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