Click on any photo for a larger version
to January 2017
Prices for lutes are in UK pounds and include
Click on any picture to see a larger version.
A new owner took this
Twenty-first century lutes are for musicians who wish to play lute music composed from c. 1300 to 1680. Experienced lute players are very particular about using instruments appropriate for a period of music. Since lutes and lute music were around for such a long time, there is a long and changing history of lute making resulting in a wide variety of types of lutes. I have come to specialise in the lutes of the late Renaissance, but I make many other instruments as well. My lutes are based upon existing old instruments, paintings and contemporary evidence.
All my lutes have Swiss pine soundboards and English fruitwood pegs.
Renaissance Lutes - Elegant and Simple - no Decoration - 13 Ribs
To keep cost to a minimum, these lutes have a slightly simplified rose, an oiled finish, no points where the soundboard meets the fingerboard, which is English walnut. I chose the materials, using what is available in the workshop, usually English sycamore or cherry. None of these choices will effect the quality of the sound and the lute is very environmentally friendly.
For a varnished finish add £325.
Renaissance Lutes - With Decoration - 13 Ribs
Body of cherry, ash, sycamore, or contrasting sycamore and cherry with a small amount of decoration, lines between ribs, points where the soundboard meets the fingerboard, and a choice of more ornate roses. This design and level of decoration is typical of many old Renaissance lutes.
Renaissance Lutes - 25 Ribs - With Decoration
Two lute bodies made from 25 pieces of English cherry - light and dark lines between ribs. The neck, made of pine, is veneered with cherry that was used in the body. Again, some decoration.
Ten Course Lutes
Ten course lutes are probably more popular today than they were in the 17th century. Two compromises are often made. The first is to increase the string length to about 630mm allowing longer bass strings which have a better tone. This also lowers the pitch of the top string to f'.
The second is to make the neck a bit narrower so that some of the bass strings do not have the fingerboard beneath them. This does not matter as these bass strings are never fretted. The picture on the right illustrates this.
|11 courses Simple||£4160|
|11 courses Decorated||£4485|
Baroque Lutes with more courses, viheula, early guitars can all be made as custom made instruments.
Custom Made Instruments - examples are shown on the Custom Made Instruments Webpage
|I have made many types of musical instrument, classical, electric and steel string guitars, Appalachian dulcimer, octave mandola, psalteries, hammered dulcimer, santur (Persian Hammered dulcimer), Aeolian Harp and more that I can't remember. Prices for these projects vary, but a few guide prices (without cases) are below.|
|Aeolian harp from £700|
|Octave Mandola from £1750|
|Appalchian dulcimer £950, includes excellent quality planetary geared tuning machines.|
|Custom Acoustic Guitars, from £4000|
I have been making lutes since 1974 and I like to make them as if I were in the lute making environment of the 16th to 18th centuries. I use good quality materials, hide glue and have studied the old instruments. I do not copy existing old lutes but attempt to build instruments which might well have existed and are useful to modern players.
|Planing lute ribs Photo by Tim Motion for an article in Country Living magazine - 1990|
Lutes, and any other instrument, from my workshop can be made entirely to customers specification. One of the pleasures of having a musical instrument made this way is that many choices are left to the player - tone, woods used, string length, string tension, use of gut or nylon strings, width of the nut, rose design, decoration. The most useful instruments originate from a working partnership between the player and maker.
Soundboards (tops) are made from best quality 'Swiss Pine' (Picea abies). In my opinion, this is the only wood which works for lutes. The tree grows all over Europe, but only in certain localities can it be harvested for musical instrument making. Plantations in the Alps have been in existence for centuries and it is reported that these plantations are being well managed.
For the remainder of the lute, I use native English timber; sycamore, maple, cherry, walnut, ash, apple, pear, plum etc. They are all beautiful woods, relatively inexpensive and locally available. I air dry these woods myself, exactly as the old lute makers would have done.
I don't use much exotic timber (tropical hardwoods). Fingerboards have always been a problem (I have used bog oak - black, hard and 10,000 years old) but recently Forest Stewardship Council approved African blackwood has become available and I will now use that. I do not intend to buy any ebony. I have more rosewood, enough for quite a few fingerboards and one baroque lute. It seems that rosewood is more scarce than endangered and good Indian rosewood is still available from Indian government auctions. There is no ivory, whalebone or Brazilian rosewood in my instruments, though I did recently use some very old ivory (obtained from a harpsichord restorer) for restoring an English Guittar.
In short, my instruments are authentically and responsibly constructed, and very playable.
If you are interested in purchasing one of my lutes, please email or phone:
At the moment the waiting list is about eight months and I ask a non-refundable deposit of about 15% to confirm an order.
A slide show of a lute being made here in my workshop. The music is played on lutes made by myself. The first piece is modern, 1998, and a portion 'Crux Catalyst' by Lamb and Keane is heard. Only one lute is playing, the sound has been considerably altered electronically. The latter two pieces are played on the lute constructed in this slide show. The former is 'The Right Honourable Ferdinando, Earl of Derby, His Galliard' by John Dowland followed by a duet 'The Flatt Pavanne' by John Johnson.