The Jheronimus Bosch Lute pt. 6 – Heads and nuts

Head onIt has been a while since I posted about the Bosch lute. Some other lutherie related subjects needed attention. And while this lute is just a side-project it had to wait a little while.

In some forgotten moments I made the headstock. The basic frame is made from beech (like Robert Lundberg suggests in his book “Historical Lute Construction”), veneered with oak.

As sometimes happens in the shop, I get caught up in the work and forget to take pictures. So I have no photo’s of the making process of the headstock. Perhaps next time…

Neck slotThe head is glued into a slot in the neck. Some makers use screws to secure it in place. But a few years ago the late Stephen Gottlieb advised me not to. Because when a lute gets hit, you want the head to come off cleanly (it’s easy to glue back in place) rather than breaking into multiple pieces that can’t be repaired. The historical makers didn’t use nails or dowels either, only to secure the neck to the corpus.


VermeijenIn the background you see another lute I’m working on: the “Vermeijen“, after a painting in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. This was started over a year ago, but I couldn’t find the time to finish it. Too many other projects going on. Sometimes projects come to a point when they don’t want to get finished. Like the lute or guitar tells you it needs some rest. It’s best to leave it at that point and work on something else. Don’t push it, otherwise you will screw up the whole thing. There will come a time when the instrument wants to be finished.

After the head is on, the fingerboard can be shaped. Planed to the right inclination and made lightly curved (only a fraction of a mm) to make the frets fit snugly to the fingerboard and enhance playability.

HolbeinThen the nut can be fitted. With these two lutes I wanted to try a slightly different approach. In Hans Holbein the Younger’s painting of “The Ambassadors” he shows a lute, seen from the side of the pegbox.

One thing that is different from other lutes is that the nut is set into the neck at an angle, rather than in the same line as the fingerboard. imageAlthough unusual it is rather clever, because the pressure of the strings is distributed perpendicular to the underside of the nut.

The nuts are made of bone, although I have played with the idea of making the one for the Bosch in deer antler. But it didn’t look as good as I had hoped for, so chose to use bone instead.


In the next post I will look at the finishing of both lutes. Scraping, historical sanding, paint, wax, french polish, etc. So stay tuned…

The 1544 Arts and Crafts day at Hernen

Sandra and JanThis sunday Sandra and I will attend the ‘1544’ crafts and re-enactment day at Hernen Castle in the Netherlands. We will take along both lutes and the Bruegel and Stradivari guitars.

More info can be found here (Dutch only).

Hope to meet you there!

This entry was posted in History, Jheronimus Bosch Lute, Projects, Research, Uncategorized, Woodworking, Workshop and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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