#1
Hey guys, I'm afraid you may have to bear with me a little on this one as it involves a fair amount of music history and history in general!

I used to be something of a regular on here but havn't really done any modding in years and eventually stopped coming on here. but I'm back with a few rather unusual questions for you lot since your probably more knolegable than me on this subject these days.

In essence what i want to do is to build a lute that is tuned the same as a guitar (perhaps using string courses perhaps not) and possibly a mandolin of similar construction as i play that as well.
The reason for this (possibly rather mad) idea is that I'm part of a historical re-enactment groupthjat does viking/saxon renactment (seehere) and when we are doing shows ect we are usually camped out for a day two and everything we use has to be historically accurate and this prevents me from bringing a guitar along due to the strict authenticity rules as the guitar as we know it only developed in the 16th to 18th centuries. However there is evidence that the lute existed in the Viking/Saxon period but no evidence of how they were tuned or even much evidence of what music was played then.
In a way not knowing how they were tuned is perfect for me though as it allows me to effectivly make a guitar that's pretending to be a lute which saves me from having to learn an entierly new instrument, something i don't want to do right now as I want to learn bagpipes at the moment, more on that later though.

phew! now that you know what I'm after and why i want to attempt something so damned weird we can get down to how to actually build the bloody thing, please bear in mind throughout that this thing has to look historically accurate.

This means that all the woods used have to be native to the british isles (prefferably wales as the historical persona i have to portray is that of a welsh mercenary) and i'm not allowed to have anything on show which doesn't look historically accurate, for example i can't use modern guitar machine heads or strings (i'm actually going to have to find real animal gut for the strings!) I am allowed to use modern construction methods though so long as they are not visible like modern glue, cause i sure as hell am not boiling horse/cowhooves to make glue apart from anything else my girlfriend/house mates would kill me if i did that!

My question to you UG is this.... are you as mad as i am? do you think this can be done? (prefferably on the cheap!)

below are a few links to websites i've found with some useful info, please ignore some stuff about baroque lutes and similar instruments (like numbers of strings) as they are 400 to 600 years out of the right time period.

The wikipedia page on lutes (as good a starting point as any)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lute

the web page of a guy who built a baroque lute (strung differently but some things like the body will be similar)
http://www.unm.edu/~ctdbach/Lute/Building_Lute/Building_Lute_Main.htm

an article about woods used in building lutes (sure i can find a few british woods in here)
http://www.vanedwards.co.uk/wood.htm

this one is the closest i could find to what i want in thers of historical accuracy
http://www.cincinnatiearlymusic.com/medieval_lute.html


something that would be REALLY helpful that i'm going to try to find myself is Powerfreak's fret distance calcualtor thing because this instrument will be smaller than a gutar the intonation for the frets will be totally different and fret distances will need recalculating. If anybody knows where this is could you please direct me to it.

on a side not i mentioned that i'm going to be learning to play the bag pipes in the near future, yes I am totally mad lol. the reason for this is that therre is evidence for them in our time period and as the most musically savvy in my group i have been asked to learn to play them so that i can play our group into battle and being foolish enough to never back down from a challenge I've agreed.
Unfortunately the pipes used by the british army are not from the right period *sigh*. so i am going to have to research and build those myself as well. if by some wild inexplicable chance anybody knows anything about the strange be anyone knows ANYTHING about building wood wind instruments please help me out! if these strange cat strangling beasties do get built i'll post pics ect on here for those who're intrested.

EDIT: tidied up a bit and made a few spelling corrections
Last edited by sillybuuger12 at Nov 24, 2009,
#2
I think I remember seeing you around way back when..

to start, heres a pretty popular fret calculator

and.. maybe I'm not as mad as you, but I'm sure it can be done. although I'm not really sure how easily

the link where a guy built a baroque lute seems like a pretty good place to get information, to me.
the bowl looks really similar to how I'd imagine you'd build a boat's braces, and he shows a bunch of the process.

I think the trickiest part of it will be keeping it historically accurate, but it does seem quite possible, with a bunch of work..
I dunno anything about lute or bagpipe construction, though, so.. good luck
it should turn out pretty cool if you can pull it off
#3
heh heh thanks, I think he just uses that boat brace type thing as a mould to bend and glue the wood to shape, if there were any internal braces i'd think they would be a bit less substantial than that, they look so heavy they would dampen some of the sound (exactly the opposite of what we want)

I also found a page that explains how to make real gut strings... i'm going to ask to see if i can buy some or maybe ask the authenticity officer (the person who checks how acurate our stuff is) if i can use nylon instead!
http://www.daniellarson.com/article.htm
it's interesting none the less though as all instrument strings would have been made like this or with horse hair once
#4
Quote by sillybuuger12
something that would be REALLY helpful that i'm going to try to find myself is Powerfreak's fret distance calcualtor thing because this instrument will be smaller than a gutar the intonation for the frets will be totally different and fret distances will need recalculating. If anybody knows where this is could you please direct me to it.

I'm afraid that is lost in the ether somewhere... The one on the stewmac site looks alright though.

As for the woods maybe beech or elm? As the scales are shorter they should hold up to the tension... I believe LaBella still make gut strings commercially; I don't know if that "counts" but may be worth a look.

Afraid I'm not up on my lutes so can't help more than that!

For sale: Early 1985 Ibanez AH10 (Allan Holdsworth signature model) PM for details
#5
I wish I could help. This is a really cool idea. Good luck and make sure you post at least a thousand pictures of the process.
Bari Build

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#6
Quote by power freak
As for the woods maybe beech or elm? As the scales are shorter they should hold up to the tension... I believe LaBella still make gut strings commercially; I don't know if that "counts" but may be worth a look.

Afraid I'm not up on my lutes so can't help more than that!




beech is certainly possible but wouldn't Elm be really expensive since there are barely any left in the UK after dutch elm deseise killed them all in the 70s/80s?

as for the strings i took a look at the company you mentioned but couldn't find anygut strings on there. I did however find these guys http://www.aquilacorde.com/ who not only make strings but also make fret gut.

I didn't realise this but aparently frets were made of gut tied around the neck of the instrument until relativly recently and you could move them to change the key that you were playing in.... think mine might stay put though lol