The Jheronimus Bosch Lute pt. 8 – Pegs and frets

Soundboard with strings

The finished soundboard with strings. Notice the effect on the “harp figure”

After the soundboard was painted it’s time to finish the lute. On this oak model I decided to keep it very simple, by giving the whole instrument a light coat of wax. I tried this before on other instruments with great results. The wax I use is a mixture of carnauba, linseed oil, beeswax and a little orange oil to give it a pleasant smell. It’s natural and when fully cured the surface feels like it there nothing on it at all. And while I still use french polish and lacquer on my instruments, but on student instruments and small projects like these it helps to keep the price low. Besides it’s one of the most beautiful finishes for oak…

But besides its name, a beautiful finish doesn’t make the instrument ready to play. This requires the fitting of strings, and while it’s easy to tie them to the bridge, there needs to be something at the top to tune them.

While there are many suppliers for tuning pegs, I like to turn them myself on a lathe. This way I can change the design the way I want. Bosch headstockThe other thing is that I make the pegs gradually smaller as they go down the head.

For the pegs of this lute I did something that’s hardly ever seen today. You may notice that the ends of the pegs are black, but the shafts inside the headstock are lighter. That’s because they are made of a lightly colored wood, but the ends were dyed black with east-indian ink.

Luitspeler - Dirck van Baburen (1622)I didn’t make this up myself, but found inspiration in this painting of “The Lute Player” by Dirck van Baburen (1622). When we take a closer look at the pegbox we see the same thing. Light colored pegs with black handles. Also take a good look at how flexible the string ends appear.

De luitspeler - detail

Table at HernenLast sunday Sandra and I attended the “1544” crafts-day at Hernen Castle. I went there or the first time last October and it revived my interest in historical re-enactment. It was great to be back, meeting again with fellow craftsmen and -woman. Soon after the weekend in October a Dutch Facebook group about medieval re-enactment started, providing a platform to exchange information. Over the last months they have been a great help in researching and recreating what we needed for our outfits and kit. And while an event like the weekend in Den Bosch was great for the public, the events at Hernen are a blast for the re-enactors themselves. Hernen 1544Time to meet after the public left, an opportunity to meet and share food, drink, laughs, ideas and knowledge. Wonderful people from all ages and walks of life, slightly mad, with a profound love for history and craftsmanship. Woodworkers, blacksmiths, cooks, leather workers, tile and brick makers, bookbinders, fabric and lace makers, musicians. Learning from, getting inspired by and helping each other. That’s one of the best things in life. Of we only could find a way to transfer this mentality to the whole of society…

Fitting pegs at Hernen(If you missed last Sunday, we’re there again in the first weekend of October.)

I tried to fit some pegs to the Vermeyen lute that day, but only got round to do half the set.


Both lutes received their pegs frets and strings last Wednesday, just in time for the next event I will attend.

This Saturday I will bring both lutes and the Stradivari guitar to the “Schapenmarkt” in Langbroek. Feel free to come over and see and play the instruments in real life.


Bruegel, Vermeyen and Bosch united…



This entry was posted in History, Jheronimus Bosch Lute, Projects, Re-enactment, Research, Think different, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Woodworking, Workshop and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Jheronimus Bosch Lute pt. 8 – Pegs and frets

  1. Jon Fletcher says:

    The figure did end up as you intended, in the strings of the harp. The beggar appears to be imprisoned or protected. Hard to tell. I think protective custody perhaps. Unfazed whichever. Came out very well.


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