Early Guitars and Vihuela

A network for historic guitars and vihuelas

Alexander Batov's Comments

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At 12:29 on October 29, 2015, Richard Weleber said…

Hi Alexander,

I just joined the network and have enjoyed the comments. To communicate with another member, one first asks to be friends.  Will you please accept me as a friend?


Richard Weleber

At 18:42 on January 3, 2014, Christopher Challen said…

It was some time ago that I examined the 1680 Stradivari guitar in the Ashmolean Museum and made drawings in preparation for copying but the impressions I recieved were lasting. My feeling is that both bridge and rose are original. My reason being that in many details the guitar rose resembles the rose of my 1680 Stradivari mandolino (National Instrument Museum NNM 6045)http://orgs.usd.edu/nmm/PluckedStrings/Mandolins/StradMandolin/StradMandolin.html . I’m not sure if anyone has made a definitive decision re the date of the guitar but I’ve always read it as 1680.

The very small attachment area of the guitar bridge I did find slightly disturbing on examination but have reproduced this on many occasions without any problems (as far as I know!). The bridge on the mandolino is also extremely narrow - in proportion to the string length that is - but likewise has not proved a problem in reproductions. I played the original instrument vigorously for about 23 years in both concerts (including several performances of the Vivaldi G major double mandolino concerto with James Tyler) and often hours of the usual daily practice, with no signs of structural shortcomings.

I always find Stradivari’s work extremely inventive and full of surprises. For example, nailing the ribs of his guitars to the mould (the filled holes at the waist are clearly visible) and using what I think is a clever way of piercing the bridge in order that the position of the strings can be accurately set and subsequently adjusted - drilled holes just don’t offer the same flexibility.

Happy New Year. Chris.

At 12:17 on January 2, 2014, Christopher Challen said…

you are absolutely right about the picture of the guitar heel!!! This was an instrument which I probably made in the late 70s and I think was my first and only full size copy of the Ashmolean guitar. I have no recollection as to how I confused things, maybe I was looking around to see how others had tackled the meeting of so many lines and saved your picture as a good example. Also, the colours are quite similar and we both decided to not varnish the neck. I of course removed the picture immediately and hope you don't think I was trying to pass my work off as your own - this would not be a good way to start out on such an interesting website. I will enlarge the other heel image as soon as poss showing how I resolved the problem. I do hope you will accept my apologies. Yours, Chris (Challen).

At 11:53 on September 22, 2011, Nick O'Sullivan said…
Alexander, Your viola da mano is a stunningly beautiful instrument
At 8:20 on May 19, 2011, jean michel Catherinot said…
Your viola sounds absolutely amazing: wonderful. Bravo!
At 2:29 on March 15, 2011, Jennifer Bennett said…
I started playing baroque guitar for a few days but then had to give it back to its owner but now I am really excited as today  I have started hiring a renaissance guitar from the lute society :-). Yes I can't wait to play with Yair's kapsperger etc..
At 11:14 on June 9, 2010, Kernoa Patrig said…
In fact we are! I wanted to send you a message but it was refused as we were not yet official friends!!!!
Can you tell me when you make a so-called "romantic guitar", I'd like to see and try it if possible. I still enjoy very much playing the barok guitar and the vihuela. Those days are frustrating as I broke my left arm last sunday while sailing on the channel, 4 weeks without playing, concerts concealed... all the best, Patrig
At 7:41 on May 24, 2010, mel said…
Alexander: Some time ago I posted a picture of an opened Fabricatore guitar and you expressed doubt that the braces were original especially the diagonal. I was perusing through my photo collection and I have two additional photos for you to examine. The braces appear to be of the same age , similar bulk and style in which they were cut, and there appears to be no other scars where there may have been any other brace placements. What has been your experience with Fabricatore guitars? Is there a possibility that this may be a fake ? The label appears to be similar to labels presented in many books , but even so that might be counterfeited as well. Opinion?
At 20:26 on March 3, 2010, Oleg Boiko said…
Саш, приветствую)! рад сердешно повидать неожиданно), мои контакты все в силе и действии, так что как что звони услышимся( эт я на счет инструмента), а пока всего наилучшего, Джаки привет!....
At 15:04 on February 23, 2010, Fernando Lewis de Mattos said…
Hello Alexander, I made a mistake about the period of the first viola, from Minas Gerais. It's really from 18th cent.ury, as you said. These violas are from 18th and 19th century. I'll correct this information. Thank you, Fernando
At 6:17 on February 3, 2010, michael Bocchicchio said…
Alexander, thank you for the info and link. The irony is that Mel lives 80 miles from me and we talk often on the phone. ---But have never discussed baroque guitar bracing!
After seeing the pics, I noticed that the original Voboam brace (removed and replaced with the diagonal brace) is much closer to the bridge than the bracing shown on my Stradavari plan. I should probably measure the location my plan and tell you who drafted it, and when.
I'm currently in Los Angeles (playing the lute on the TV show "House"), and won't be home for another 2 days. I will look into it when I return.
Thanks again,
At 11:26 on January 25, 2010, Fernando Lewis de Mattos said…
Hello, Alexander
I posted photos of Brazilian violas, but resolution is not so good. I'll scan in a better resolution later.
My bests,
At 10:45 on January 25, 2010, Fernando Lewis de Mattos said…
Hello, Alexander,
I have a 17th century Brazilian Viola picture, but not in my computer. I'll scan that and post as soon as possible, maybe today.
Thanks for recomendation.
Best wishes,
At 18:58 on January 5, 2010, michael Bocchicchio said…
Alexander, I've heard that modern recreations/replicas (not yours, but in general) of the Stradivari 88 guitar have trouble dealing with string tension when braced per plan.----The sound boards flex, throw the action off, and strain under normal gut tension. I don't have that many Baroque Guitar plans to compare it to, and haven't ever built this guitar. However, I have seen other models (including French models) show strain under tension and am puzzled by the lack of bracing near the bridge.
I have found "Blue Spruce" to be stiff beyond imagination and likely to hold up under tension. However, I really hate the idea of going outside the realm of "plausible materials" to make it work.

If this subject has already been well addressed and discussed, I apologize for being out of the loop---I mostly build lutes.
At 15:06 on October 19, 2009, Bernhard Hofstötter said…
Alexander, Great to see you! I have not had any news from you in recent weeks. I hope everything is fine. Just let me know which arrangement suits you best. Best wishes, Bernhard
At 13:31 on June 4, 2009, Oskar de Mari-Jones said…
I did, thanks for that. I was thinking of stringing all in gut at g (a=440), with an octave 6th course.
At 13:42 on June 2, 2009, Oskar de Mari-Jones said…
Hello! just came from a vihuela lesson with Tommy Andersson; I'm working on 4 narvaez fantasias and a milan 'consonancias y redobles'. We wondered about placement of the frets and your views on tunning? Also how would you recommend stringing it? the bass courses? thinnest top course?
At 8:53 on April 24, 2009, jean michel Catherinot said…
Hello Alexander! No answers on my personal mail. Haven't you received new mails from me two days ago?
At 11:37 on March 28, 2009, Aarón García Ruiz said…
Hellow Alexander,

Thanks you for your web page and articles. The idea to make these vihuela started in a "Cursos Manuel de Falla" in Granada, in a conversation with John Griffiths who encourage me to make a Quito copy better than a Jaquemart copy (in these days the only two vihuelas well-known).

Best regards.
At 10:34 on March 27, 2009, Aarón García Ruiz said…
Helow Alexander,

No, the central inlay is silver, like the original. I did this inlay thwelve years ago and finished the instrument last week. I started the copy follow Egberto Bermudez information and finished helped with Ariel's pictures in your web. Thank you.

Best regards.
Aarón García

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