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 : €4370  

With (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox :€4785


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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 : €4520

With (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox :€4935.


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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 : €4520

With (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox :€4935.


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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).

11 ribs with solid neck and pegbox : €4560

11 ribs with (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox :€4935.

25 ribs version with (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox: €5420




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


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 of the pieces in the late XV Century Thibault manuscript require seven courses. It is also worth mentioning that in 1556 one of Bálint Bakfark's apprentices was known to have the intention to purchase one of these lutes. How anecdotic this fact really is will probably never be known with certainty.

The first printed book calling for some of its pieces to be played on a 7-course instrument was Hans Gerle's first book of tablature published as early as 1532. Further evidence of its use is shown by a handful of early XVI Century paintings where a 7th course is clearly depicted. In spite of all this, the majority of the evidence tells us that the use of the 7th course did not become common until the last quarter of the century where numerous instruments of this kind were built, judging by the several examples that have survived.


Seven-course lutes are very versatile instruments. They will cover the majority of XVI Century repertoire while still allowing some of the XVII century repertoire to be successfully played on it with little compromise. From my point of view, it is the best all-around instrument for those interested in Renaissance lute music, specially for beginner and conservatory students. The extra course (compared to a 6-course) will not create too much harmonic disturbance when playing proper 6-course repertoire while still allowing to perform most of the English and French later music on it. It is also a great companion to the voice due to the fact that most of the English lutesongs (including those of John Dowland) can be performed on this instrument as well as many “Air de Cour” with little or no change of the original tablature. It is also a great and uncomplicated way to start learning the rudiments of continuo-playing on it since the extra course allows some more possibilities for efficient accompaniment.



In spite of its present popularity, 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 viewed by some as having the versatility I attribute to the 7-course lute. I however think that the extra course will not open many repertoire possibilities while rendering others less appropriate. For example, while I think that the early French and Italian 6-course music (Da Milano, Spinacino, Leroy, etc) can be satisfactorily performed on a 7-course, I consider that the extra two courses of this type of lute create too much unwanted harmonic disturbance (by sympatric vibrations) that somewhat muddle the polyphonic structure which is the fundamental trait of this music. I nonetheless recommend it for players who want to concentrate mainly on the last decades of the XVI century and the beginning of the next albeit in those cases, a 9 or 10 course 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: €3650

With (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox:€3970


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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: €3700

With (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox: €4020


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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.

iString length: 58.4 to 60 cm.

11 rib version with solid neck and pegbox: €3650

11 rib version with (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox: €3970

25 rib version (as the original) with with ebony veneered neck and pegbox: €4675

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 : €3700

With (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox :€4020


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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: €3800

With (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox: €4120




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