Origin of the Lute
The Lute is a chordophone. The precursor of the lute is the Middle Eastern oud (or ud), which was introduced to Spain by the Moors in the early 700’s. In Arabic, al ud means the wood. It is not hard to see that the Arabic al ud was Anglicized into lute.
There are a few major differences in these two instruments. The styles of the peg-boxes differ. The lute peg box is straight, while the oud peg box has a gentle curve. They are both at nearly right angles to the neck. The two instruments differ in the number of strings. The lute has 15 strings while the Oud has 11. The strings are set in courses of two each. In the lute the first course, the highest pitched, has only one string. While in the oud, the last course, the lowest pitched, has only one string. The number of rosette sound holes carved in the soundboards differs. The Lute has one while the oud has three. Other differences are minor.
The lute under went many functional and stylistic changes as it developed. It originally had four or fewer courses of strings and was played with a plectrum, or pick. In the 15th century an additional course of strings became common. Over the next hundred or more years the full 8 courses, or 15 strings, became standard. As the instrument gained in popularity and the music changed, the plectrums were discarded and the instrument was played by plucking with the fingers.
The 1500-1600’s was the golden age for the lute. Its mass appeal resulted in copious amounts of music being composed for the lute. Lute players were in demand and well paid. As with all golden ages this one came to an end and by the 1800's the lute was no longer in fashion.
The Lute Body is made with stave construction. The alternating light and dark rosewood of the body is a beautiful visual contrast to the light spruce soundboard and the dark rosewood neck. They have four fixed wooden frets on the soundboard and eight movable nylon frets on the neck. There is one intricately carved rosette sound hole in the light spruce soundboard. There are 15 strings in 8 courses. The peg box is at an acute angle to the neck. Each Lute is shipped in a vinyl hard sided case with cloth interior. Mid-East also offers replacement strings and Learn To Play The Lute: Lute Lessons for the Beginner by DeGroodt.
Tuning the Lute
All stringed instruments are shipped de-tuned. This removes the tension on the neck to lessen the chances of accidental breakage during shipping.
Do not tune the lute higher than G above middle C, the bridge can be pulled off the soundboard. Please be careful. Use peg dope for smoother action.
Lute String Set
How to play the Lute
Mid-East offers replacement strings and Learn To Play The Lute: Lute Lessons for the Beginner by DeGroodt. The book covers the parts of the lute, holding, fingering techniques, exercises, care and more. You may also want to visit our links pages for teachers in your area and lute web pages.
Why did I break strings when I tried to tune my lute?
If you broke a string you are going to the wrong octave and may pull the bridge off the soundboard. Use a piano to identify the octave. Nothing is tuned above G above middle C.
Lutes have a very thin soundboard and take more time to stabilize than a guitar. It takes about a month of constant tuning for your lute to stabilize.
All Rights Reserved