So, I'm a big fan of fantasy / sword & sorcery fiction & stuff, like the Game of Thrones series. Some of the stories I've liked have involved bards traveling around playing lute or whatever. I thought it might be interesting to buy a lute and learn to play on it. If it can be tuned similar to guitar, it should be rather easy to transition from playing classical guitar, I'd think.

I also live near Hollywood, and the thought did occur to me that playing a period instrument like lute might open some doors to being in a film where they wanted to period-appropriate instrumentalist. I'm not a guy who dresses up and goes to renaissance fairs or anything, but I've been to one or two without dressing up and they're fun. I guess if I learned to play lute, I might get more into that, or just meet up with other people who play period instruments.

Well, just wondering if anyone else has had an interest in this, looked into it, can share any thoughts / experiences. I'm also wondering, if I did want to pursue this, what kind of approach should I take to finding a good instrument, what should I expect to pay, etc.

Bernie Sanders for President!
Lute tuning can vary considerably, but the 12 string/6 course tuning is very similar to guitar tuning: GCFADG (with both strings per course being tuned in unison). If you look at the intervals, you have 4th, 4th, 3rd, 4th, 4th, which is very similar to a guitar. In fact, you can very easily play in that tuning with a guitar if you tune the G string down half a step and then capo at the third fret.

Of course, there are tons of different amounts of strings, though most of them do share those courses and just add more lower courses, such as the 13 string/7course lute, which features only one high G and two additional low D strings (a fourth below the low G course), which is actually tuned identically to a guitar tuned down a step, with the addition of the additional high string.

That being said, tuning similarity only does so much when switching to a new instrument. Generally with all string instruments, the same rules when shopping for instruments apply, and actually, most string instruments generally have about the same range of prices with the exception of physically very large (like contrabass anything) or mechanically complex (pedal steel guitar, hurdy-gurdy, etc) instruments, which naturally are much more expensive.

Lutes will probably run you a bit more than a comparable quality guitar though just because they are less commonly made, whereas guitars are mass produced. Again, this is generally true of any string instrument.

It wouldn't be a bad idea to search online for any lute- or medieval/renaissance music- specific forums. Also next time you are at a renaissance faire, be sure to ask anyone there with a lute about it (but only serious people of course) or even ask your local luthier for advice for things to check for in an instrument (materials, construction, etc).
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
Thanks, that was very informative.

Bernie Sanders for President!