minstrel: Instrument Differences

Fred Ross fred at horace.ls.net
Fri Nov 17 15:34:01 PST 2000

The idea of the nut being the easiest thing to replace on a string
instrument makes my violinist heart quail.  While I regularly do field
repairs to the bridge, tailpiece, chinrest, pegs, and bow, I almost never
do anything to the neck and fingerboard besides clean them.  You might
want to single string the bass strings instead of the treble, though.  The
wider strings down there will make it less strange to play.  I think this
is more period as well: lutes often had single strings instead of doubled
in their lower courses (maybe almost always?  I'm not sure; I'm not a

The baritone uke would seem like a less attractive option because of
having only four strings.  However, it might be interesting to look into
some of the Takamini small guitars.  Their full sizes are quite nice, and
if their smaller sizes are up to a reasonable standard, a 3/4 or 7/8 would
make a decent substitution - though I would still go nuts in that famous
Bach prelude where there is a bar with the fourth finger of the top three
strings at the fifth fret, and a low F on the sixth string with the first
finger.  I am so conditioned to my instrument on that reach that I miss it
on almost anything else.

My bibliography will be forthcoming.

Fred Ross
s.k.a. Philippe de Minerve
a.k.a. Sgath

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