Richard Fletcher Renaissance Lute (1990)

Richard Fletcher built this ten course lute for me in 1990. It is a replica of an original by Magno Tieffenbrucker now housed in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. The original is also a ten course instrument. The first course, called the chanterelle, is a single string. All the other courses are doubled. I string the 2nd through 5th courses as unisons and the 6th though tenth courses with octaves.Until I have my Baroque lute I am using this for both Renaissance and Baroque repertoire so the unison 5th course will be changed to an octave once I get that instrument. Considering the abuse I’ve put this instrument through since 1991 I’m surprised it has held up so well. I was playing at Barnard College with the Montclair Viol Consort in 1994. When we finished a man came up and pointed to the instrument: “That’s a Richard Fletcher lute.”, he said. I was flabbergasted. How could he know? The man was luthier Andy Rutherford and that day I learned how distinctive Richard’s lutes are. I can hardly wait for him to finish my Baroque lute.

Front of lute.
Front of lute.

 

The back of the lute shows some beautiful details. The flamed maple ribs with ebony spacers are reflected on the ebony neck veneer. You can also see the fret knots in the back. Lute frets are tied on unlike modern instruments which have frets set into the fingerboard. Lutes were traditionally strung with gut. My frets are gut but I use synthetic gut, Aquila Nylgut (bionylon) for the strings. These strings have the attack and decay of gut without the tuning and stability issues.

 

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