Although similar in appearance to the 5 course Baroque, the smaller 4 course Renaissance guitar was a distinctively separate instrument enjoying its own repertoire ~ written for most notably by the likes of Giullaume Morlaye and Adrian Le Roy. My design is based on the late 16th c. Diaz instrument in the RCM, London. Tuning g, c, e’, a’. Scale length around 54-56cm
An instrument favoured in Italy/Spain from the end of the 15th century, the viola da mano / vihuela has the appearance of a small guitar and is tuned in a similar manner to the lute. There are very few surviving originals but it is apparent that perhaps three sizes were played at different pitches. I designed the 6 course pictured from the contemporary iconography and literary descriptions (the example shown was made single strung on the client’s request). It is suitable for G pitch with a scale length of 60cm. For F or E pitches I make a larger, longer model based upon the 16th c. instrument in Quito, Ecuador.
5 course guitars developed from instruments chiefly made popular by the Spanish, who primarily seem to have favoured guitars over lutes, from around 1550 onwards. After 1600 these instruments appear to have gained wider appeal across Europe. A common tuning is similar to a modern guitar minus the low E and scale lengths tend to be around 65 – 68 cm depending on desired usage, either solo or continuo, respectively. The majority of surviving originals are by French and Italian makers.