Vihuela
Vihuela
Vihuela with inlaid soundboard

For most of the 16th century, the predominant plucked instrument across Europe was the lute. In Spain, however, equal prominence was given to the Vihuela. It is a delicate, 6-course instrument, with its own extensive repertoire. Since it is tuned similarly to a lute, all the 6-course lute repertoire is playable on it.

Aspiring lutenists should note that the vihuela is much easier to hold than the lute, especially when you're starting. Add a strap, and you can concentrate on learning technique instead of wondering how to stop the thing sliding round on your lap.

Bridge and decoration
Bridge and tail button

I inherited my vihuela plans from an established luthier who retired some years ago. He did a thorough research and design job, resulting in an excellent and very playable instrument. The original string length was 680mm, but many players find this unmanageably long, so I have designed a 580mm version (similar to a 6-course lute) which has proved very popular.

Materials - I normally use my preferred woods, which were all available in the 16th century. Body and neck in maple, with a spruce or cedar soundboard. Bridge, pegs, etc. are in walnut. Fingerboard is yew. This, of course, can all be modified to your specification.

Normal stringing is GG cc ff aa dd g'g' but it also works well with a single top string and octaves on the fifth and sixth courses (gG c'c ff aa dd g').

Rose
Rose
Back of Vihuela
Back view
Vihuela in case
Vihuela in case

Sound Clips


Played by Ian Pittaway

Prices

6-course, plain soundboard
£750
6-course, inlaid soundboard as shown
£800
6-course, inlaid soundboard, half edge banding on soundboard only
£850
6-course, inlaid soundboard, full edge banding on soundboard and back
£900
All options include a decorative fingerboard and centre banding on the back.
7 courses - add 80 to the above prices. I know of no historical evidence for a 7-course vihuela, but it allows the extensive 7-course lute repertoire to be played, which is useful.
A fancier rose, more inlay - tell me what you want and I'll work out a quote.
Cases
Excellent cases can be ordered from specialist manufacturers such as Kingham MTM, but they're pricy. I can supply a simple but attractive plywood case, black with chrome fittings (see picture above) for 150 when ordered with an instrument.
Delivery
Delivery price depends on where you live. Please enquire.
To order or enquire, please contact me
shim