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 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').
Vihuela in case
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 £180 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.
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