The gittern was a common medieval instrument. It originated some time in the 13th century, and had largely died out by the end of the 15th century. It resembles a small lute, but its body is carved from the solid. My gitterns are based on a surviving example in the Wartburg museum, by Hans Oth of Nuremberg, dated circa 1450. It is one of my most popular instruments. Few other luthiers are crazy enough to make dugout instruments.
Hans Oth Gittern
The Oth gittern has a string length of 441mm. It has 5 double-strung courses.
There is some evidence on historical gittern tuning. For an in-depth account,
see Ian Pittaway's gittern
I also make a 4-course version, which has proved popular. It is more typical of
slightly earlier gitterns. The evidence suggests that 4-course gitterns were tuned in fourths.
Another option is a smaller version, with a 340mm string length. The Elblag Koboz is about this size, so it has some historical validity. It's mainly of interest to people who play modern mandolin, and don't want to learn a new tuning. It can be tuned gg d'd' a'a' e''e''
Gittern head - 5-course
To order or enquire, please contact me
Cases - Excellent cases can be ordered from specialist manufacturers such as Kingham MTM, but they're pricy. I can supply an attractive, custom-built plywood case, black with chrome fittings, for £150 when ordered with an instrument.
Delivery - the price depends on where you live. Please enquire.
I hate it when websites say "Phone for a quote", so to give you some idea - getting a baroque guitar in its case to America, including insurance, is currently about £130. Getting one to Kent is about half that.
Waiting time, from placing an order to clutching your new baby, is currently about 12 months. It's very approximate, because the schedule often contains items that are somewhat experimental, and they may take more or less time to complete than anticipated. Usually more.
Deposit - I usually ask for £150 (non-returnable unless I'm dead, insane, incapacitated or incarcerated) to secure an order and cover materials. Once that's paid, your order is entered into my Magic Book. Nothing happens for several months, then you receive an email to tell you I've started construction. A few weeks later, a big parcel arrives, and you squeal with delight.
A note on HUMIDITY - delicate wooden instruments are remarkably resilient, but they can have major problems with both high and low atmospheric humidity levels. I keep my workshop at the recommended humidity level, between 45% and 50%. Low humidity can shrink wood, resulting in cracks. High humidity can loosen glue joints, especially when it's coupled with high temperature. There's plenty of advice on the Web, but I'm compiling a brief summary of recommendations which I'll upload soon.
Email for Diabolus