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7 to 10 course lutes

7 & 8 course lutes

9 & 10 course lutes

1)     10-course lute after Hans Frei (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum C34).

11 ribs of figured sycamore, plum, yew* or pear. Ebony or African blackwood fingerboard with fingerboard points. Ebony half edging. The neck can be either veneer with ebony or solid figured fruitwood.

String length: 63 cm (8 tied frets) to 66.5 cm (10 tied frets).

With solid neck and pegbox : €4570  

With (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox :€4850

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2)     10-course lute after Hans Frei (Warwick County Museum Nr. 162).

11 ribs of figured sycamore, plum, yew* or pear. Ebony or African blackwood fingerboard with fingerboard points. Ebony half edging. The neck can be either veneer with ebony or solid figured fruitwood.

String length: 65 (8 tied frets) to 68cm (9 tied frets).

With solid neck and pegbox : €4670

With (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox :€4940.

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3)      10-course lute after Laux Maler  (Nürnberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum MI54)

A similar instrument to No. 2 above  with a shallower body that might be more comfortable to hold for some players.

9 ribs of figured sycamore, plum, yew* or pear. Ebony or African blackwood fingerboard with fingerboard points. Ebony half edging. The neck can be either veneer with ebony or solid figured fruitwood.

String length: 64 (8 tied frets) to 67cm (9 tied frets).

With solid neck and pegbox : €4670

With (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox :€4940.

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4)     10-course lute after Magno Dieffopruchar (Bologna, Museo Civico Medievale).

A large, full bodied instrument representative of the Venetian School of lute making that allows for a relatively short string length for its size.

String length: 64 (8 tied frets) to 67cm (9 tied frets).

25 ribs of figured sycamore, plum, yew* or pear with (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox: €5820


These three models may also be made as 9-course lutes with a reduction in price of €90


*Due to the scarcity and high cost of yew wood suitable for lute ribs, instruments made with this timber will have a €230 increase over the prices quoted above.

The seven-course lute was first mentioned by the German composer and theorist Sebastian Virdung in his " Musica getuscht und angezogen" in 1511, while some pieces in the late XV Century Thibault manuscript call for seven courses. It is also worth mentioning that in 1556 one of Bálint Bakfark's apprentices intended to buy one of these lutes. How anecdotal this fact really is will probably never be known with certainty.


The first printed book in which some of its pieces were to be played on a 7-course instrument was Hans Gerle's "Musica Teusch", published as early as 1532. Further evidence of its use can be found in a handful of early XVI century paintings depicting a 7-course instrument. Despite all this, most evidence tells us that the use of the 7th course did not become common until the last quarter of the century, when numerous instruments of this type were built, judging by the numerous surviving examples that have survived.


Seven-course lutes are very versatile instruments. They cover most of the XVI century repertoire while allowing some XVII century repertoire to be played successfully on them with little compromise. In my opinion, it is the best all-around instrument for anyone interested in Renaissance lute music, especially beginners and conservatory students. The extra course (compared to a 6-course lute) does not cause too much harmonic interference when playing proper 6-course repertoire, and still allows you to play most English and French later music on it. It is also a great companion to the voice, as most English lute songs (including those from John Dowland) and French "Air the cour" can be played on this instrument with little or no change to the original tablature. It is also a great means to learn the basics of continuo playing, as the additional course provides some further opportunities for efficient accompaniment.


Despite its popularity today, the eight course lute seems to have represented only a minute step in the frenetic development of the lute at the turn of the century. The only tablature books calling specifically for it are Matthias Reymann's "Noctes musicae" (1598), Simone Molinaro's first book of tablature (1599), and Giovanni Antonio Terzi's 2nd book of tablature (1599).


This instrument is credited by some with the versatility that I attribute to the 7-course lute. However, I believe that the extra course does not open up many repertoire possibilities, while it makes others less suitable. For example, while I believe that early French and Italian 6-course music (Da Milano, Spinacino, Leroy, etc.) can be played satisfactorily on a 7-course lute, I believe that the additional two courses of this type of lute create too much unwanted harmonic disturbance (due to sympatric vibrations) that somewhat muddle the polyphonic structure that is the fundamental characteristic of this music. Nevertheless, I recommend it to players who want to focus mainly on the last decades of the XVI century and the beginning of the next, although in these cases a 9- or 10-course lute might be a more appropriate choice.

1)     7-course lute. Own model based on the Georg Gerle lute at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (SAM 31) and other late XVII Century 7-course lute examples.

11 ribs of figured maple, Ash, plum, yew or pear. Ebony or African blackwood fingerboard with fingerboard points. Ebony soundboard half edging. The neck can be either veneer with ebony or solid figured fruitwood.

String length: 59.5 to 61 cm.

With solid neck and pegbox: €3750

With (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox:€3980

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2)     7-course lute after Hans Frei (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum C34).

11 ribs of figured sycamore, plum, yew or pear. Ebony or African blackwood fingerboard with fingerboard points. Ebony soundboard half edging. The neck can be either veneer with ebony or solid figured fruitwood.

String length: 62 to 64 cm.

With solid neck and pegbox: €3820

With (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox: €4050

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3)     7-course after Vvendelio Venere, Padua 1592  (Bologna, Academia Filarmonica).

A suitable model for those who prefer a smaller string length.  The back of this lute has 25 ribs and its orginal neck and pegbox is highly ornamented with stripes of contrasting timbers. Ebony or African blackwood fingerboard with fingerboard points. Ebony soundboard half edging.

String length: 58.4 to 60 cm.

11 rib version with solid neck and pegbox: €3750

11 rib version with (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox: €3980

25 rib version (as the original) with with ebony veneered neck and pegbox: €4765

25 rib version (as the orignal) with decorated neck and pegbox: €5000

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4)     7-course lute based on the work of Hans Frei.

A slightly larger instrument than model n.2 above for those who prefer (and can manage) a bigger instrument with a longer string length.  11 ribs of figured maple, Ash, plum, yew or pear. Ebony or African blackwood fingerboard with fingerboard points. Ebony half edging. The neck can be either veneer with ebony or solid figured fruitwood.

String length: 65 to 66.5 cm

With solid neck and pegbox : €3800

With (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox :€4030

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5)     7-course lute after Hans Frei (Warwick County Museum Nr. 162).

A version of this magnificent somewhat larger instrument offered as a 7 or 8 course with a minimum string length of 66.5 cm for 8 tied frets on the fingerboard.

11 ribs of figured maple, Ash, plum, yew or pear. Ebony or African blackwood fingerboard with fingerboard points. Ebony half edging. The neck can be either veneer with ebony or solid figured fruitwood.

String length: 65.5 to 70 cm (9 tied frets)

With solid neck and pegbox: €3900

With (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox: €4130


These five models may be ordered as 8-course lutes for an extra price of €90.


*Due to the scarcity and high cost of yew wood suitable for lute ribs, instruments made with this timber will have a €230 increase over the prices quoted above.


A recent example of a 10-course lute after Hans Frei (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum C34).No 1.

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A recent example of No. 4.  Magno Dieffopruchar (Bologna, Museo Civico Medievale)