Damian Dlugolecki - String Maker

Strings for 11 course Baroque Lute
From time to time lutenists ask me to make strings for them and more recently there has been an increased interest in stringing the lute with gut. The pattern of development of the lute during the 400 years of its' popularity is itself evidence of the fact that it was always strung with gut. During the late 16th century bass courses were added to extend the lower range of the lute. When the practical limitations of string diameter were reached, riders and other types of extended necks were added to the lute neck to allow lower pitches while staying within the bounds of what was possible. A string of around 1.75mm represents the practical limit in terms of our ability to bend the string around itself at the bridge in the traditional manner. It also represents the limits of a gut string to produce a clearly defined pitch within the playing length of a lute, even when the string has been built to maximum efficiency and/or torsion.

There are of course so many types of lute that it would be pointless to make a list for every type. Better perhaps to describe the stringing for a medium sized lute, which will encompass most lutes. The list details the exact stringing I use on my lute, an 11 course lute made by Andy Rutherford in 1984. ** A couple years ago I had made some advances in my understanding of torsion as it relates to the art, and decided to restring this lute. Strung with these new strings the sound that emanated from the lute was transporting, as in time travel.

The basses for the set are very high torsion strings and are hand polished in the traditional way. I find there is a margin of suppleness and integrity of sound preserved in this way as opposed to polishing with the centerless grinder. The upper courses f' through d as well as all of the octaves are made with right sides of the casing which only means that the pitch is a bit more rich and focussed. I include price of the diapason and 8ve together and pair them in a certain way that I have found ideal. I include the tension in Kg for each string rounded to one decimal place. Of course these diameters and tensions represent my preferences for my lute and is only intended as a starting point. I'll be happy to accomodate any preferences you may have taking into consideration your playing style and lute. Please pay particular attention to the spacings at the nut where you will note that the spacings between diapason and 8ve become wider into the lower courses. **This prevents any clashing or acoustic noise as the lower courses are struck.

 

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