The chitarrone was probably developed c.1580 by a member of the Camerata of Florence, to accompany the new style of song writing, musica recitativa. Large bass lutes were strung at a high pitch (g or a), to create an instrument with a bright, penetrating sound.
The instrument was known initially as the 'chitarrone'. Long diatonic bass strings were added soon after, creating the classic form of the instrument as we know it today, with re-entrant tuning and long second neck.
The archlute is similar in general design and construction, but smaller in size and tuned like a normal renaissance lute. Typically it has 6 pairs of fretted strings and 8 single basses. Although earlier examples existed the instrument appears to have ﬂourished from the mid-17th century onwards, especially in Rome in the 1660s, where it was used extensively for playing continuo parts.