Master luthier and designer Zachary Taylor has created this truly elegant and classic instrument — the 'Guitarino'. Guitarino is the designer's Anglicisation of 'chittarino' and it's also been called the guitarra, guiterne, machete and braguinha. One of the smallest and earliest members of the guitar family, it made its appearance in the mid-16th century when several respected composers wrote for it.
Taylor based his special design on a guitarino made in 1646 by Giovanni Smit. Smit's instrument is currently on display in the Kunsthistorisches Museum of Vienna. Some features of that original one were changed for practical reasons. The Smit has an arched back made of separate strips, similar to the lute, but this feature was replaced with a flat back to reduce production time. Separate strips were retained for the sake of decoration but some costly cosmetic ornaments were excluded as they contributed little to the guitarino's sound or functionality.
Originally, strings and frets were made of gut, which were tied around the neck. Tied frets represent a strong reference to the original instrument but are sometimes troublesome. Changes in humidity, temperature, and clumsy handling can cause changes in the fret location, making replacement difficult for an inexperienced player. For these reasons, the designer, maker and suppliers decided on metal frets as a standard feature. Customers who prefer the more traditional tied frets may request them to be fitted when an order is placed.
When used in the guitaristic sense, the word 'course', refers to more than one single string and possibly as many as three. A common modern example may be seen in the mandolin and bouzouki. On the guitarino, two strings in a course may be tuned in unison or in octaves. Where octaves are used for the lower strings, usually one of the strings is tuned an octave higher than the normal, fundamental, string. Various tuning methods of the Renaissance guitar are known, but it was decided to offer this wonderful instrument with its pairs tuned in unison.
Interestingly, near the end of the 19th century, the Portuguese took with them to Hawaii, the braguinha, where it was swiftly absorbed into the folkloric culture. The local musicians called it ukulele, or 'jumping flea' in Hawaiian. It is perfectly feasible to play ukulele music on the four-course Renaissance guitar and vice-versa!
The Guitarino comes strung with the Roosebeck™ 4-Course Renaissance String Set (Item Code RBSRG4C), with the recommended tuning being G3 G3 C4 C4 E4 E4 A4 A4 (gg c'c' e'e' a'a'). Each instrument is carefully set up for optimum action (string height): between 0.5-0.7mm at the 1st fret for all strings; 3.0-3.5mm at the 10th fret for the 1st course; and 3.5-4.0mm at the 10th fret for the 4th course. Each Guitarino comes with a Roosebeck™ Guitarino Hard Case which provides exceptional protection for your instrument. This case features a rugged, faux leather exterior, plush cushioned interior, and a locking fastener. The Roosebeck™ Guitarino Hard Case (Item Code RHCSRG) can also be purchased separately.
Back: Walnut & Maple
Head Stock Plate, Fretboard and Bridge: Rosewood
Soundboard Bracing: Spruce
Nut: Buffalo Bone
Scale Length: 425mm
Overall dimensions: 635mm length, 155mm width, and 62mm depth
Fretboard Width: 38mm at the 1st fret and 41mm at the 8th fret
Weight: Approximately .43 kg or .95 pounds.
It is very important that the instrument is stored in a humidity controlled environment, especially where the relative humidity is less than 50%. A Case Humidifier (Item Code OH-6) is a great way to protect your investment. It may be necessary to re-oil the fretboard every few months with Lemon Oil (Item Code PW-LMN). A Pick Guard (Item Codes SS-1P-C and SS-2P-C) is not included, but, can be added for protection.