minstrel: Instrument Differences

Tim Connor timcon at flash.net
Fri Nov 17 14:34:12 PST 2000

Fred Ross wrote:

> On Thu, 16 Nov 2000, Tim Connor wrote:
>  a mandolin could be
> > a reasonable substitute for a
> > medieval cittern or citole (though it would need to be restrung, and
> > tuned differently).
> The restringing
> might present problems for someone who doesn't do much luthier work, since
> it entails remaking the head, the nut, and the bridge.

Actually, I don't think it would need to be quite so extensive (depending on how
much you care about details of appearance).  I haven't got around to trying this
with my Washburn mandolin yet, but it seems that all I would need to do to make it
a quasi-citole would be to string it with only one string per course (using the
four strings that normally make up the top two courses).  They'd be slightly
off-center on the fingerboard, so it might be desirable to replace the nut, which
is about the easiest thing to modify on a string instrument.  The bridge (on mine,
anyway) has a straight saddle with no notches, so would need no modification.  If
I was concerned about looks and didn't want the modification to be reversible, I
could remove half the tuners and fill in the holes, but I'm not sure I'd bother.

> > As for early guitars--a cuatro (restrung with nylon), vihuela, or even a
> > baritone ukelele would be reasonable. All can be found at reasonable
> > prices, evene dirt cheap in the case of the uke.
> Now here's an idea that escaped me since I'm only familiar with the
> classical guitar.  On the other hand, the smaller frets would really throw
> me for a loop.   I can't even play the steel strung guitars without
> overreaching.

The baritone uke's neck is a little shorter than a classical guitar (maybe a
22-23" scale), and of course it's narrower, but then it only has four strings.  My
classical guitar has a 25" scale, my steel-string is 26".  My cuatro is 22", and
doesn't feel that different from the classical guitar (the neck is the same

> Perhaps we should
> > compile a list of music books to post on the A&S page.
> Here's a good idea.  Do you want to spearhead the effort?  The list gets
> long in a hurry.  Even small music libraries without a focus on early
> music - such as that of Appalachain State University - have a variety of
> books with such materials, and masses of folk music that can be passed off
> as pseudoperiod.

OK, I'm volunteering.  Everybody send me your bibliographies (annotated, of
course) of early music books.  I think it would be most useful to focus on
performing editions in modern notation rather than scholarly books, facsimiles,
etc., and I would prefer not to bother with pseudoperiod folk music, which is
pretty easy to come by already.  But I'll include everything I get.  Please
provide author, title, publisher, publication date, and ISBN.  If you know that it
is out of print, it would be helpful to mention that.  A brief description of the
contents (periods, styles, and composers represented; whether it includes
tablature as well as standard notation; whether English translations of lyrics are
included, etc.) and any evaluative comments you care to make would be more than
helpful.  I will compile and perhaps Master Gregory will find a place for it on
the A&S page.  To avoid clogging up the list, please email me privately with your
contributions.  If you would like me to email you the final product (in
WordPerfect format) let me know and I will do so.  I expect it will take a several
weeks at least.

In service,

Tadhg O Cuileannain

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