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The Arciliuto in e (Universal Lute) – A Steinway for Guitarists

Tuning: G A B C D E A d g (or f sharp) h e‘
With extended theorbo neck (8 fingerboard strings, 3 bourdon strings)

Tuning:G A B C D E F sharp A d g (or f sharp) h e‘
With extended theorbo neck (9 fingerboard strings, 3 bourdon strings)

Tuning:G A B C D D sharp (E flat) F sharp G E A d g (or f sharp) h e‘
With extended theorbo neck (9 fingerboard strings, 5 bourdon strings)

String-Length from 64 to 66.6 cm
19 fixed frets (tied-on if desired)
Single stringing

Often a little irritated by the great variety of lute forms guitarists will ask whether or not there is an instrument to cover the repertoire of both the renaissance and the baroque periods. The best solution would be the 14 string Archlute in e, with a stopped string length of 64 cm and single stringing. This instrument can be strung equally well as an Archlute in g or a Liuto forte in d. It even allows for the correct rendition of J. S. Bach’s lute compositions once it has been re-tuned to the d minor tuning. For the renaissance repertoire up to and including John Dowland, which normally requires no more than 8 or 9 fingered strings, a capo tasto is to be recommended for the first or second fret.

The Archlute in e, developed in 2002 and since proving very popular, opens up unlimited possibilities for the guitarist. It takes into account that the usual tuning of a plucked instrument is no longer the g tuning of the alto lute but the e tuning of the tenor lute and of course the modern guitar. Taking the familiar tuning of the top six strings as a starting point, the guitarist can effortlessly work down step by step towards full use of the rich bass register. Naturally every player is free to experiment with tunings beyond the examples given here. One very interesting and musically well thought out option is the tuning used, for example, by the Spanish guitarist Antonio Jimenez Manjón (1866-1919) on an 11-string guitar: C F D G B E A d g h e’.

Archlute in e, 11 strings

For players who would like to perform the baroque repertoire using an e tuning with a minimum of strings, and without octave doubling of the bass strings, the ideal solution is the 11-stringed Archlute in e. Using suitable transpositions (see the publications in the Edition Liuto forte & Guitar), many works of Sylvius Leopold Weiss, for example, can be performed with absolutely convincing results, in addition to the complete works of John Dowland and his contemporaries.

Archlute in e, 12 strings

The extra string in F sharp can be optionally re-tuned to F or G. This takes the fact into account that the most tricky fingering problems in the traditional tuning in 4ths on guitar and renaissance lute result from the lack of a deep F, F sharp or G open string. This additional string considerably simplifies the performance of all pieces in traditional 4ths tuning.

Archlute in e, 14 strings

This instrument, which supplements the traditional tuning in fourths with the open string tones F and G otherwise lacking, not only opens up for players coming from the guitar an unlimited vista of possibilities, but also smoothens the passage to the d minor lute. Beginning with the familiar tuning of the upper six strings, the guitarist can become conversant step by step with the ample bass register this instrument shares with a Baroque lute in D minor. Once having mastered the extra bass register in this e tuning, the guitarist gains a fascinating freedom to switch from playing it as an arch lute in guitar tuning (reading from staff notation) to a baroque lute (reading from tablature). And for this transformation only four strings will need to be exchanged.
The Archlute in e with 14 strings can also be re-strung as an Archlute in g.