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 to 65 cm.

€4370  for the solid neck and pegbox version.

€4685 for the (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox version.


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1)     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 67 cm.

€4475 for the solid neck and pegbox version.

€4790 for the (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox version.



These two models can be made as 9-course lutes. Prices will have a €75 reduction from the quoted ones 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 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 seven 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 build, 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. Under 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 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 58.5 to 61 cm.


€3850 with a solid neck and pegbox version.

€4060 for the (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox version.


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1)     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 half edging. The neck can be either veneer with ebony or solid figured fruitwood.

String length 61 to 64 cm.


€3980  for the solid neck and pegbox version.

€4190 for the (ebony) veneered neck and pegbox version.


These two models can be made as 8-course lutes for an extra price of €75.

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