Lute Web Sites

NOTE: this page of links has not been updated since 2001 and is no longer maintained

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Wayne's lute home page (the best place to start)

Bay Area Lute

Lute "tab" word processor

Lute tablature

Early music links

An ancient lute lesson converted to the web and many fronino files.

Allan Alexander's (excellent) lute and guitar pages:

Donatella Galletti's Lute Page

Baroque lute page

Martin Shephard
Stephen Barber
Lyn Elder
Ian Watchorn
David Van Edwards
Stephen Gottlieb

Fronimo lute files:

7 versions of Dowland's Lachrimae in Fronimo format, as well as his Varietie of Lute Lessons.

The John Dowland Manuscript Project (tons of free tablature), including the "Django" windows tablature program, and tablature facsimiles.

Tune!It - windows tuning software which supports many alternate temperaments

Stainer & Bell sell a variety of English Lute music with both lute tablature and piano transcription.

The Lute Society, based in England.

String calculator

The Renaissance Cittern Page

Body mechanics for lute players

Kenneth Sparr's Home Page, with a considerable amount of originaly information about the lute, including photos and analysis of several historical lutes in museums.

Aquila Strings home page in Italy. I use their Nylgut strings, as many lutenists do.

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Sources for less-expensive "student lutes":

György Lörinczi, a Rumanian luthier, offers a Venere based lute for 600 Euros (about $540 in December 2001)

Giuseppe Tumiati makes a student lute for 750 Euros (about $675 in December 2001)

Stephen Barber makes student lutes for around 1000 british pounds.

Daniel Larson makes a "fantasia" lute at a lower price ($1800)

Luthier Martin Shepherd's Advice for first time lute buyers

Caroline Usher's guide to buying a lute.

If you are extremely handy with wood projects, you might consider building your own lute. There are two good alternatives, either David Van Edwards on-line course or the lute kits from the London Early Music Shop (in the USA, available from the Boulder Early Music shop).

Caroline Usher, Martin Shepherd and I exchanged these opinions on the "1st lute":
> > 1) consider the super-cheap pakistani lutes that are ebayed
> > off every day at around $320 to $350.

Caroline Usher wrote:

> I would strongly advise against this. You'll have to do a lot of work on it and it still won't be a real lute. Save up your money and be patient a little longer so that you can get one of Ed Greenhood's or Giuseppe Tumiati's lutes. You may even stumble on a used Larry Brown lute within your price range.

John wrote:
Unfortunately, I agree with you, even though I have one of those Pakistani lutes. They are badly made, and unplayable when they arrive. With about 10 hours of work, they're playable, but they still don't sound like a lute (they're so heavy, they sound boomy, and more similar to a guitar). After about 40h more work, they get to the "barely acceptable" stage.

Unfortunately, for people who want to "try out the lute" and see if they like it, it's hard to justify a $1000 "test" -- that's not a lot of money for a lute, but it's a lot of money for most anyone. That's probably why 2 or 3 of those pakistani lutes are sold on ebay each day (it's amazing to see that much interest).

Caroline Usher wrote:
> While you're waiting, you could get hold of a classical guitar (you didn't mention that you play already), tune the third string to f# and learn to read tablature on it.

John wrote:
This is probably decent advice for those considering a lute: it seems to me that the crux of the issue for investing $1000 in a student lute is "do I like lute music, and do I enjoy playing it" -- most people could probably determine this for themselves by tuning a classical guitar to a lute standard and trying out a lute tutor book for a month or two.

In my case, I received my pakistani lute, and was immediately discouraged because it was unplayable. Michael Peterson kindly helped me set the darned thing up, gave me a new nut blank and advice, and I made the thing playable. Unfortunately, a few weeks after I got the darned thing playable, I found that I made much better progress learning on a decent lute (which another lutenist, Sean Smith, lent me), and thus went on a quest to buy a real lute.

So, my advice for people who want to explore the lute is not to buy one at all -- find someone to lend you their old hand-me-down instrument while you figure out what you want to do. In my case, having a decent instrument to explire helped me fall in love with the lute...


Finally, lute-builder Martin Shepherd had these words of advice:

Dear John and Everyone,

I agree it's a good idea not to buy a lute to start off with. For anyone in the UK, hiring a lute from the Lute Society is a cheap way to find out if the lute is for you, without having to struggle with a terrible instrument. I think LSA may have a similar system but the distances involved would make it all harder.

A good instrument is a joy and an inspiration, and well worth the money. A good lute can be sold second-hand with very little depreciation. Just try that with a car, or a computer...

Thomas Robinson, The Schoole of Musicke, 1603: First it behoveth a scholer to have a verie good instrument verie well strung, faire to the eie, and easie to reach any stop whatsoever, and verie well sounding .... a good instrument will please a learner every way, for it delighteth them to looke and behold it now and then, likewise they love easie and smooth instruments, and although they can do but little, yet it will sound well, and so encourage them to learne with delight, whereas contrariwise, a bad or dull instrument will quell their spirits quite, so that in a long time, or never, will they profit in their forced labours.

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Other Lute pages at this site:

- The Lute Beginner web home page

- Lute beginner music and exercises: free tablature downloads to learn by.

- how to replace your lute frets: directions on tying new gut frets.

- lute pickup FAQ: inside or outside the lute? Is amplifying the lute an abomination?

- How to improve a bargain lute: tips for the lutenist on a tight budget.