Thirteen course lutes

Instruments on this page are of the kind ideal for the "German Baroque" repertoire. For instruments more suited to the earlier "French Baroque" repertoire see this section of the catalogue. Two models of lute are currently offered on this page both of which can be built with either a "bass rider" or a "swan neck".

Background and general information:

The late-baroque started when lutes still had only eleven courses, however, these instruments tended to have longer string-lengths than their earlier French counter-parts. It wasn't long before the German baroque saw other major changes in lute construction such as the movevent to thirteen courses. Broadly speaking there are two different types of thirteen course baroque lute: "bass-rider" lutes and "theorboed" or "swan-neck" baroque lutes. The "bass rider" type is the simplest in that it essentially an eleven course lute holding two extra bass courses on a small extension to the peg-box. The "swan-neck" type is considerably more elaborate because it houses five bass courses on a "theorboed" neck.

The extended neck thirteen course lute can be further sub-divided into two types: a simple version with all five bass courses carried on one nut, or a "triple headed" version where three of the five extended bass courses are taken to a nut at an intermediate string-length.

Two other major changes in lute construction occured during this period. There was both a change in the way soundboards were thicknessed and had their mass distributed, and there was a utilisation by some makers of a soundboard barring scheme called "fan-barring".

1. After Thomas Edlinger c.1728 (NMM Vermillion 10213) bowl attributed to Magno Tieffenbrucker, Venice c.1600, eleven ribs:

This model is offered with a stopped string-length of 74cm. It is suitable for being built in all three thirteen course configurations. It can have either a "bass-rider" as per the original, a normal "swan-neck" or a triple headed "swan-neck". The two different types of extended neck are modelled on those by the Hoffmans and Jauck respectively.

2. After Hans Frei (KHM Vienna, C33), nine ribs:

The original instrument is an anonymous eleven course conversion. Given its size it forms the perfect basis for a thirteen course instrument. This model is offered with a minimum string length of 72cm.

3. After J.C. Hoffmann, eleven ribs:

This model can be built as either a "bass-rider" lute or it can have a Hoffman style "swan-neck" with single nut. The stopped string-length is 72cm.

A selection of images of this type of lute in "bass-rider" configuration can be seen below (click for larger images):

4. After Martin Hoffmann c.169... (GNM Nuremberg, MI 245), nine ribs

This model is offered with a minimum stopped string length of 69.5cm.

5. After Laux Maler c.1555 (GNM Nuremberg, MI 54), nine ribs:

This model is offered with a minimum stopped string length of 69cm.

6. After Leopold Widhalm c.1755 (GNM Nuremberg, MIR 903), eleven ribs

This model is offered with a minimum stopped string length of 73cm. The original has a string length of 74.5cm.

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