Work on the theorbos continues…

Last week has been quite busy…

Both musicians who commissioned the theorbos visited the shop. One of the things I like is that they are both around my age. People often seem to think Early Music is something for “old” people, but there are a lot of young musicians who are interested in this. Both to play, as to make the instruments. I am working hard to shed off this rather dusty image. And even the “older” generation of players is usually very young at heart, with a very open and bright attitude and mind, enthusiastic and free-spirited.

The Sellas

This theorbo was commissioned by Jannemieke de Jong, a guitarist from Gouda. She brought along the back of her first guitar, because some of the pieces of this instrument will be incorporated in the theorbo.

Some photos taken by Jannemieke. This theorbo will have figured ash ribs with walnut spacers. Just the photonegative of the other instrument.

The Schelle

Lutenist Punto Bawono has become a regular guest and friend at the shop. It’s always good to catch up and speak about our shared passions.

Photos taken by Punto. You can see the difference in size between the two instruments. The Schelle is one of the largest lute-type instruments around. Made in 1728, probably for a working musician or use in an orchestra.

We’re still investigating the use of this type of large Dm tuned theorbo in baroque music. It really is a different instrument compared to the smaller swan-necked instruments, also often called “german theorbo”. We expect the latter were probably more used as a ‘normal’ baroque lute than for orchestral continuo work. Also there is a lot of difference in the execution and build-quality of both types of instruments, but we hope to elaborate on that later. For now it is a continuing built and research project, too early to reach full conclusions.

Cutting the top blocks

Literally a central piece in the construction of lutes is the top block. Joining the three important parts; bowl, neck and belly.

Made of a soft wood, spruce, willow, fir or linden, it is carved to accommodate the shape of the ribs and form the bowl.

It is possible to pre-shape these blocks on a lathe, but I find it easier to cut them by hand with a long chisel. As you can see, instrument making can be rather physical work…

To be continued…

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