I based my original designs on the only good surviving example we have which has five courses and was made around 1450 by Hans Ott in Nuremberg (incredibly for such an early period, it has a maker’s label inside it) during a time when I would suggest that the use of gitterns was in decline. However, judging by all the earlier iconographic evidence it had changed very little in concept over perhaps the preceding two centuries, although the number of strings or courses of strings varied between 3 and 6! But were they all classed as the same instrument? We don't know. Although its shape indicates an obvious similarity to the lute it has also been suggested that the gittern was a forerunner of the guitar.
A gittern was the first instrument I ever built when I started learning luthiery and I have now made quite a considerable number of them - tweaking the designs here and there to meet the needs of individual customers - whilst travelling the learning curve.
TUNING & PRICING
After Hans Ott c.1450. Neck and body carved from solid.
Short scale: top string at either c''
Long scale: top string a 5th lower
I have been able to accommodate quite a number of different tuning variations for previous customers. I would suggest the intervals primarily as 4ths. You can have a 3rd in somewhere if you wish or a 5th, or a mixture of 4ths and 5ths, there are a number of possibilities. I would only say here that if you wanted all 5ths then it may be better to go for a 4 course, or less, instrument. Usually I go for tunings based on a D chord for the small gittern and a G chord for the large gittern most people seem happy with this:
d, a, d', g', c'' and G, d, g, c', f'. Seven frets is plenty for gitterns but I also make them with ten if you wish.
2 Sizes available (usually with 4 or 5 courses) - From £2,300
Offered with sound hole decoration (rose) and nylon strings as standard. Additional decorations, carving, half edging, gut strings etc. are possible extras, as is a completely monoxyle construction. Cases are available on request.