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Arciliuto in g (Italian baroque lute/Archlute)

Tuning:F G A B flat C D E F G c f a d‘ g‘

String-Length, stopped strings: 62 cm; unstopped bourdon strings: 95.5 (other string-length available by arrangement)
Choice of 7 or 8 stopped strings
Fixed frets (tied-on if desired)
Single stringing (double courses if desired)

The great success of the ”archlute“ invented by Alessandro Piccinini (1566-1639) lay in its combination of two decisive innovations: the lengthening of the bass strings and the use of high pitched, penetrating tuning on an instrument of long string-length and strong resonance. The employment of the high, ”alto lute“ tuning, which was conceived for instruments of around 60 cm, on an instrument of tenor proportions with a string-length of around 70 cm, was only possible with the use of thicker strings and a necessary higher tension. Combined with the typical use of fingernails in the right hand, this resulted in a remarkable capacity for carrying the tone. Archlute and theorbo could be called the first “loud lutes” (liuti forti). From today’s point of view they mark the beginning of a process which leads directly through the angélique and J. S. Bach’s single-strung baroque lute to the Liuto forte of the 21st century.

Archlutes played a significant part in the ensemble-music of the 17th century, as well as generating a soloistic repertoire.1 Its very long bass strings were always single, while the fingerboard strings came sometimes in double courses and sometimes single.

The archlute proper is to be carefully distinguished from the instrument known as ”liuto attiorbato”, which was a small instrument also in the G tuning and furnished with lengthened bass strings. Italian composers of the 17th century have left a considerable solo repertoire to be played on its comfortable short string-length, which if attempted on the archlute and its longer mensuration would prove problematic for the left hand.

The Arciliuto forte in g, however, which due to its soundboard construction can exceed an historical archlute in volume, can be given a shorter string-length without losing its penetration. It is thus equally able to fulfil ensemble duties and to interpret the delightful music for the liuto attiorbato. Due to its power, brilliance and timeless beauty the Archlute remains among our most popular models.

By choosing an Archlute in the tuning G A B C D E F G A c f a d’ g’, you can not only enjoy immense reduction of fingering difficulties in the reproduction of the instrument’s original repertoire; you can also comfortably switch to the d minor tuning by exchanging only two strings. The transition from archlute to an instrument in the d minor tuning then demands no additional getting accustomed to a new bass register, no more than in the case of a transition from archlute to theorbo, whose sixth string is also tuned to an A.

1 Well worth mentioning here is Giovanni Zamboni, whose works are available in an especially engaging recording by Luciano Còntini (SYMPHONIA SY 92S16)