renaissance music in cincinnati

Building Historical Musical Instruments


Hyou may click on an image to see the instrument being built, and discover some of my own ideas about constructing historical instruments.

I have been building lutes and copies of historical instruments professionally since 1973, after attending a Lute Society summer seminar at St. Paul's College in Cheltenham, England. It was there that I first met Philip Macleod-Coupe, Ian Harwood, and other lute makers, and studied the construction of instruments within historical parameters, with the intention of reproducing the actual sounds that musicians heard in ancient times.

I attended American Lute Society seminars in Barrington Rhode Island every year for about eight years and met many gifted lute makers. I eventually sat on the board of directors of the Guild of American Luthiers and contributed a few articles about instrument making to the Guild's Quarterly. Yearly conventions with Guild members helped expand my awareness of other construction techniques, especially more modern instruments. The quarterlies from 1985-1996 have now been published in a four-volume set called the Big Red Books, a wealth of information for builders and the most comprehensive collection of articles available anywhere in the world today. Instrument makers could not do better than to acquire those volumes.

I am currently on the Board of Directors of the Lute Society of America . I am a regular attendee at the the American Lute Society summer seminar in Cleveland and continue my travels to inspect instruments in museums, most recently in Italy.

Click on an image to see the instrument being built! So far, only the green, underlined names have active pages.

maple baroque guitar
Maple Baroque Guitar
ebony baroque guitar
Ebony Baroque Guitar
spanish vihuela
medieval rebec
medieval fiddle
Fiddle / Vielle
medieval lute
Medieval Lute
renaissance lute
Renaissance Lute
Morlaye renaissance guitar
Renaissance Guitar
baroque lute
Baroque Archlute
renaissance cittern
baroque lute
Rosette Carving

Someone always asks me "How can you just give away your secrets?" I used to tell my apprentices "There are no secrets--just good and bad makers." Stradivarius was a member of a family of instrument makers as well as a member of a close-knit group of violin makers in Cremona, Italy. They had no secrets from each other. And yet, the quality of their violins varied enormously. If you give 10 chefs a recipe, you will get 10 different dishes. The quality of a musical instrument isn't based on the methods, the recipe or the varnish formula, it's based on the skill of the maker. I freely give away all of my "secrets". Just don't cut your fingers off trying them out!

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