Vihuela (early 6 course guitar)

Vihuela for sale, made by Kelowna BC luthier Clive Titmuss
$4,500 CAD
$3,350 USD


(Click for larger image)

The vihuela is an instrument which is ideal for the guitarist who is attracted to the Renaissance literature, but may have reservations about the complications of the lute. All of the rich Spanish vihuela literature (Milan, Narvaez, Mudarra, et al.) and any Italian or Elizabethan six-course lute music may be played on it. In some respects, such as the ergonomics and intonation of playing in higher positions, I feel it’s clearly superior to the lute. Naturally, lute players would enjoy it too.

The sides and backs are steamed Swiss pearwood, a stable timber which may be planed thinly. The pegs are plum-wood, recommended by Thomas Mace in Musick’s Monument as the best material for pegs. Plum polishes beautifully and retains its round shape in humid and dry weather. It’s just soft enough to fit the peg hole perfectly. The pegs have a small diameter, assisting in tuning sensitivity. The stringing is entirely carbon fibre, which contributes greatly to the the tuning stablility and intonation.

The head is German-jointed to the neck (with a triangular projection seen in the photo detail) allowing the neck to be thinner, and the head to be thicker, thus improving the peg torque. This joint is difficult to execute, but worth the effort because of its superior strength. The quarter-sawn walnut heads are veneered in Koa and inlaid with tiles. The soundboards are either stunning old-growth Port Orford cedar (cypress), or spruce. I have left the tops rather thicker than a lute belly, partly because of the inlays, and partly because they have very few bars. This results in an extroverted sound, more typical of the guitar.

The soundboard has parquetry ebony/hornbeam/pear tiles, with accents of abalone and rosewood around the bridge. Three larger tiles on the upper bouts and in front of the bridge are a Maltese Cross design. The fingerboards are macassar ebony, quarter-sawn to reveal the coloured grain which matches the pearwood body.

A new feature is a tatted rose by Susan Adams. Tatting is a beautiful form of fine-gauge needle lace. Fine lace was a long-standing tradition in the Iberian peninsula. The rose is stiffened with glue sizing, lashed to a ring and installed below the sound hole. The rosette is surrounded with ebony and holly tile inlays that reflect the points of the compass, a reference to the age of exploration.

The vihuela’s stability and robust construction make it an excellent and lively instrument; the decorative elements make it a desirable and distinguished object.

It comes with a laminated baltic-birch case–fitted, upholstered, painted and varnished, with brass locking hardware.

Dimensions: all dimensions are approximate
Sounding String Length: 630 mm (with 2 mm compensation for the string knot in the bass)
Neck width at head nut: 55 mm (about 4.5 mm avg. clearance from the string band treble and bass)
Body length: 440 mm
Body width: 265 (upper bout), 245 (waist), bottom bout (303)
Body depth: avg. 75 (crowned at about 1/3 of the body length, near the bridge)
Length from body end to nut, excluding head: 720


All instruments built by Clive Titmuss come with custom-fitted cases.
Prices do not include shipping and insurance.


If you have any questions about the instruments, please contact me.

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