This article has outlined the major topics relating to multi-string
guitars, and these are now summarised. While not easy to learn,
one must accept that lutenists cope with instruments having anything
from seven to thirteen courses, so learning to play a multi-string
guitar is feasible. Repertoire, saving the modern compositions
for a re-entrant ten-string, and some readily available renaissance
and baroque lute transcriptions, is singularly absent. However,
although Bach, Mozart, Debussy and a great many other fine composers
did not compose for the guitar, a ten-string does make more realistic
arrangements of their music a genuine option. At the same time,
composers have an opportunity for exploring a new sound-scape.
So where, overall, does one see multi-string guitars fitting
into the guitar family? While no hard and fast proscriptions
can be given, I would suggest that:
1) seven and ten-string instruments are for solo performance
2) saving the innovation of the Brahms guitar, while eight can
be used for solo performance, it is ideal for small ensemble
use with a dropped eighth string.
For large ensemble / guitar orchestras, the six-string members
of the guitar family (octave down to bass) are the instruments
As to availability, fine instruments are available from major
studios as standard catalogue items, so that waiting times are
a matter of a few months. Solo makers are usually prepared to
make any of the types discussed and offer a valuable customising
service, though with longer waiting times. Given the will to
start, there are very rewarding opportunities for the guitarist
prepared to consider multi-string instruments. However, as noted
at the end of my previous article on the guitar family (January
2000), nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I would like to express my appreciation of all those who have
made valuable comments on this article, viz., Paul Devery, Stephen
Dodgson, Paul Elliott, Steve Gibbs, Christopher Goodwin, Jonathan
Leathwood, Idris Owen, Peter Reuffer, Brian Whitehouse. I am,
of course, entirely responsible for the final form and content.
1. Brian Whitehouse, The Classical Guitar Centre, 51A, St. Mary's
Road, Bearwood, West Midlands, B67 5DH. Tel: 0121 429 7446, international
+44 121 429 7446
2. Ohana, Maurice: 'Tiento', 'Si le jour pairait', 1968 Editions
M. R. Braun, Girard Billaudot Editeur, 14 Rue de Echiquier, Paris
3. Two examples of Bach Lute Suites:
'Bach Lute Suites for Guitar', Edited and fingered by Jerry Willard,
1980, Ariel Publications, New York.
Kompositionen für Laute, Johann Sebastian Bach, transcribed
and edited by Hans Dagobert Bruger, Mseler Verlag, Wolfenbüttel
4. 'Intavolatura di Liuto', S. L. Weiss, transcribed by Ruggero
Chiesa, Edizioni Suvini Zerbono -Milano.
5. 'Suite, e-Moll für Gitarre', Robert de VisÈe,
edited by Hubert Zanoskar, Otto Heinrich Noetzal Verlag.
6. 'Intavolatura di Balli per sonar di Liuto', Gio. Maria
Radino, transcribed and edited by Giuseppe Gullino, Edizioni
Musicali Ditta R. Maurri, Firenze, Via del Corso.
7. 'Lauten Musik aus der Renaissance', vols 1, 2, 3, edited
by Adalbert Quadt, VEB Deutscher Verlag f¸r Musik, Leipzig.
8. 'Lauten Musik aus des 17 and 18 Jarhunderts', vols 1, 2,
edited by Adalbert Quadt, VEB Deutscher Verlag f¸r Musik,
9. CD 'Introducing the Brahms Guitar', by Paul Galbraith,
P.W.C. Watercourse (1996) Recital Series, Eclectic Records, 6,
Barclay Terrace, Edinburgh, EH10 4HP.
10. 'Italiana' (anon 16th century), in 'Solo Guitar Playing',
vol.1, by Frederich M. Noad, Schirmer Books (MacMillan Publishing
Co.), New York, 3rd Edition.
11. 'Tanz', Georg Fuhrmann, in 'The Renaissance Guitar', by
Frederick M. Noad, Ariel Publications, New York.
12. 'A Tutor for the Renaissance Lute', Diana Poulton, Schott
13. 'Tone Production on the Classical Guitar', by John Taylor,
1978, Musical New Services Ltd, London.
14. Keyrex (price £9 plus p&p) is available from:
Design at http://www.waylanddesign.co.uk/ensembleguitars.
15. "Playing the Ten String," An Approach for Guitarists,
by Janet Marlowe, (Book plus CD), publ. by Janet Marlowe Music
16. Websites. These are easily found by using major search
engines such as Google, Yahoo and Altavista and typing in: 10-string
guitar, arch guitar, alt or alto guitar, Nestor Bonito, Steve
Gibbs, Jonathan Leathwood, Janet Marlowe, Sergio Medina, Stephen
Schmidt, Raphaela Smits, etc, and following the resulting links.
FRONT | 1. Intro | 2. Guitar
Types | 3. Strings | 4. Learning | 5. Repertoire
| 6. Conclusion