Friday 24 May 2024

Lute Building Course at the LSA LuteFest in Cleveland, June 23-29 2024 (With Bonus Video!)

Hi everyone, and welcome back to The Lute's Progress! I have some exciting news...

I've been asked to join the faculty of the Lute Society of America's LuteFest 2024! As you may know, the LuteFest takes place from June 23-29 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. It's a beautiful campus, and a great setting for the LuteFest. The faculty is stellar, the classes look amazing, and the concert series is not to be missed! Check out all the details and sign up to attend at the LSA website:

The Lute Building Class

I'll be teaching the Lute Building course, so whether you're an experienced maker, or you're interested in getting started building a lute, or just want an insight into how these incredible instruments get put together, the Lute Building class is the place for you. We welcome all participants, of all levels of skill and experience. We'll have a dedicated workshop room, and I'll be talking about, and demonstrating, lots of lute building techniques, including:

--building a mold

--rose carving

--fitting, shaping and grooving a nut

--material selection, shaping and thicknessing

--bending wood

--care and safe use of hand tools

--any other lute related topics that you would like to find out more about. Bring your questions to the Lute Shop!

The Lute Doctor

I'm also going to be the Lute Doctor at the LuteFest, which means that I'll be doing repairs and maintenance work on Festival participants' instruments throughout the week. Along with general maintenance items like tying a new set of frets and getting stuck pegs running smoothly, there is usually a fair amount of repair work that needs to be done. I've already been contacted by a festival participant who has two instruments, a lute and a vihuela, whose bridges have come off, so I will be going through the complete procedure for gluing these back down securely. There are bound to be lots of other challenging and interesting repairs that need doing throughout the week, and you are welcome to stay and watch.

If you have a lute that needs repairs or maintenance, bring it down to the Lute Shop. And if you want to find out more about how you can keep your lute in good running order, you are invited to stick around and see how it's done--and even try it yourself. Some lute maintenance topics I'll be covering include:

--tying frets

--changing strings

--stringing, materials and tensions

--peg maintenance

--general care and attention to keep any lute running smoothly 

Topics in Lute Design

As a lute maker, I'm fascinated by the process of how we take information on historical lutes and use it to make instruments for modern players. I want to look at a few specific historical instruments that form the core of modern lute making practice, and see how lute makers have changed or adapted them suit the needs of modern players. Some of the topics include:

–Looking at museum drawings of a number of important historical instruments

–Thinking about how we can and should adapt them, to make them into useful instruments for modern players

–Thinking about how tuning and pitch level dictate the kind of model you can and should use for a given type of lute

–Short list of historical instruments under consideration:

–Warwick Frei

–C45 Tieffenbrucher archlute

–1592 Venere

–Sellas archlutes

–Sixtus Rauwulf 10-11c (Jakob Lindberg coll.)

–Surviving lutes and fragments by Laux Maler

Note to Participants

If you are thinking of attending my lute making course, I would encourage you to bring some things along with you. If you have hand tools that you have found especially useful (or that you have questions about how to use), please bring them, and we will discuss.  If you have any tools or jigs that you have made that are especially useful in the shop, please bring them too. Sometimes the most satisfying part of lute making is inventing a tool or jig that helps you get the job done right!

I plan to bring with me a pretty comprehensive selection of drawings of historical lutes. Some of these are museum drawings; some are my own (unpublished) drawings of historical lutes; some are tracings of drawings of historical lutes that I have kindly received from other luthiers over the years. If you want to make copies of any of these drawings, I will make them available under two conditions: first of all, the drawings can’t be taken off the premises, and second, no electronic copying is allowed. In other words, if you want copies of any of these important and rare drawings, you will need to trace them manually. So, you’ll need to bring your own tracing paper (I suggest buying a roll of 24” wide tracing paper or drafting vellum), your own pencils, and your own drafting tools (e.g., compass, squares, straight edge, flexible curve, etc.) I’ve been assured that a large table will be made available for participants to use for this purpose. It’s a rare opportunity–some of these drawings are no longer available, and some were never made publicly available at all. If you are interested in historical lute making, or want to expand your repertoire of lutes, you should plan to do some tracing.

See you in Cleveland!

And now, a special added bonus...

A video of me in the workshop yesterday, gluing a peg box onto a five course lute. Enjoy!

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