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11 and 13 Course Lutes

The 11 course lute resulted from experiments in stringing, tuning, and construction by French luthiers and luthistes during in the first half of the 17th century aimed at improving the instrument’s response and resonance. Conversions of 16th century Bologna lutes were particularly favoured by French players, and commanded huge prices. The basic form was further developed by German makers, leading to the further expansion of the range to 13 courses lutes circa 1720. In its various forms this was the final stage of the lute’s development until is eventual eclipse in the late 18th century.

10c Lutes

  • 67.0 cm Hans Frei, C. 34 (Vienna) 11 sycamore ribs
  • 67.0 cm Sixtus Rauwolf (coll. Jakob Lindberg. 15 ribs
  • 69.5 cm Hans Frei (Warwick County Museum). 11 sycamore ribs.

13c Lutes – with Bass Rider

  • 70 cm Hans Frei (Warwick County Museum). 11 sycamore ribs.
  • 72 cm Marx Unverdorben (Fenton House). 37 ribs of yew.

In the above list the measurement shows the string length from nut to bridge. Specific associations of string length and pitch are avoided, but the following are approximate guides for instruments of 6-10 courses.

60 cm – “g” tuning
64 cm – “f#” tuning
67 cm – “f” tuning
70 cm – “e” tuning

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