minstrel: Re: guitars
Lisa and Ken Theriot
lnktheriot at home.com
Mon Dec 17 14:29:11 PST 2001
Boy, this comes up about every ten months or so, doesn't it?
RE: body shape and size... I can show you period woodcuts that look just
like dreadnought steel-string acoustics, (though they are in fact,
vihuelas), and others that look like smallish classical acoustics (which
are, in fact, guitars). The biggest difference between a modern guitar and
a period one is the tuning pegs, which were direct rather than involving a
machine (i.e., the strings were wound directly onto the tuning peg rather
than being wound on a spindle which connects to the tuning peg via a gear
[However, our standard figure-eight, steel-strung, six strings tuned EADGBE
guitar is fairly modern.]
Figure eight bodies are ancient. Steel strings are indeed problematic, at
least for guitars.
Tuning ran roughly as follows: a vihuela was tuned like a lute: G C F A D
G; a guitar whacked off the lowest and highest courses to get C F A D.
Sometime in the 16th century, a course or single string chanterelle was
added back on and the pitch raised a tone to A D G B E, which is modern
standard less the low E.
If you can find it, I highly recommend _The Art and Times of the Guitar_ by
Technical questions aside, no one has ever told me to go away because I was
carrying a guitar (I know better than to take it certain places, where I
choose to perform a cappella, if I choose to perform at all). I wouldn't
hesitate to use it in a competition, though my documentation would include
the differences between my guitar and a period instrument (have you tried
finding gut strings for a guitar?). The reason the guitar pretty well
killed off the lute was primarily ease of tuning and play, and so it still
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