Stephen Barber & Sandi Harris, Lutemakers
Catalogue and Price List 2017
1  Six course lutes 8  Gallichone/mandora, colascione
2  Seven and eight course lutes 9  Mandolino
3  Basslutes 10  Continuo instruments
4  Ten course lutes, 9-course lutes 11 Renaissance and Baroque guitars
5  Wire-strung instruments 12 Vihuela, viola da mano
6  Eleven and Twelve course lutes 13 Student Lutes
7 Thirteen course lutes  14 Footnotes

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Bass lutes

The following lutes are offered in either eight or ten course versions, except 5 & 6, the Maler and Frei lutes, which are only available as a 6 or 7-course lutes.

1.  After Vvendelio Venere, Padua  (Leipzig, Musikinstrumenten Museum der Universität Leipzig, Nr. 492)

33 ribs in yew; ebony-veneered neck, pegbox and fingerboard; ebony or blackwood pegs with bone pips;

String length: 720mm
Pitch: e'

This lute has a rather flattened back profile, which makes it comfortable to hold and play, and gives it good projection. Available with either 8 or 10 courses.
£5200 (8 courses)

£5400 (10 courses)

The '1551' date on the label is thought to be a later addition and clearly wrong; the body of the instrument is in a late 16th / early 17th Century style (the label reads: In Padoua Vvendelio Venere / de Leonardo Tieffenbrucker). The original uniquely has very fine triple stringing between its shaded yew ribs, of ebony/ivory/ebony; we make it with plain ebony lines. Interestingly, its geometry is very similar to the 11-ribbed back Wendelin Tieffenbrucker lute KHM AR.969; if the 'corners' were smoothed away from the mould for the Vienna lute, the result would be the shape of the Leipzig instrument.

2.  After Michielle Harton, Padua 1599   (Nürnberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum MI56)

35 ribs in yew with ebony spacers; ebony-veneered neck, pegbox and fingerboard; ebony pegs with bone pips; double stringing (7x2 or 8x2).

String length: 780mm
Pitch: d'

This lute has a full, deep body, with an almost circular cross-section, but it is actually playable, unlike the larger, 930mm string length lute by Harton in the same collection ! The original has 8 double courses.

£5600 (7 courses)

£5800 (8 courses)

A close copy of the magnificent Harton basslute.

3.  Own design   (Based on Vvendelio Venere, Padua 1611, Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum C47)

25, 27 or 33 ribs in yew or rosewood; ebony-veneered neck, pegbox and fingerboard; ebony pegs with bone pips; triple rose; ebony half-edging, inlaid bone/ebony heart in lower soundboard.

String length: 780mm
Pitch: d'

An alternative to the Harton model above; this lute has a flattened back profile, which many players find more comfortable for this size of lute. It is available with either 10 or 8 courses.

£5400 (8 courses)

£5600 (10 courses)

This version of the basslute described above has a 25-rib back in pale rio rosewood, and the rear of the neck is decorated with white inlaid lines.

Left-handed version, owned by David van Ooijen, Den Haag.

4.  After Magno Stegher, Venice 1607   (Bologna, Museo Civico Medievale No. 1754)

43 ribs in rio rosewood with white (holly) spacers; 11 triple white/black/white stripes to the rear of the neck; pegbox rear inlaid similarly, with bone edgings; ebony or blackwood pegs with bone pips; ebony fingerboard with bone inlaid panel-line; triple rose; inlaid heart in bone/ebony in lower soundboard. The original has 10 double courses.

String length: 900mm
Stringing: 10x2
Pitch: a


This instrument is very probably a forerunner of the chitarrone, and is best tuned with a re-entrant first and second course; with its flattened profile, it is a far better choice than the almost-impossible-to hold deep-bodied Harton (Nürnberg GNM MI44) which some makers offer to unsuspecting players !

The Maler and Frei lutes listed here are included for players who want a larger instrument; they should perhaps not strictly be described as 'bass lutes' as such, but are a useful string length and pitch; the Maler can be built at a string length of 760mm, allowing a tuning to d', a popular pitch for a bass lute.

They are both fine models for bass lutes suitable for the earlier Renaissance repertoire.


5. After Laux Maler, Bologna, c. 1540 (London, Victoria & Albert Museum, W7. 1940).

11 ribs, in figured sycamore, figured ash or Hungarian ash; neck and pegbox in pear, apple or brown oak; boxwood or figured satinwood fingerboard edged with bone; alternating heart-shaped pegs in ebony/pernambuco. A large and elegant body, which we have reconstructed in its probable original form; a beautifully-sonorous and clear-sounding instrument results. A fortunately surviving example of a larger Maler lute, the geometry of which is intact.

This lute makes a fine Renaissance basslute for the earlier repertoire, and can be made at either 720mm for e' tuning or slightly longer at 760mm, allowing a tuning to d'.

String length: 720mm (or 760mm for d' pitch)
Pitch: e'

£4400 6-course (£5000 with Hungarian Ash ribs)

£4500 7-course (£5200 with Hungarian Ash ribs)

This version of the London Maler has a highly-figured Hungarian ash back, boxwood fingerboard edged with bone, and a haselfichte soundboard.

Owned by Jim Stimson, Washington DC.

The original lute's back – all that has survived, unfortunately – is usually referred to (by Pohlmann and others) as having been made from mulberry wood (ein Korpus aus 11 Maulbeerbaumholz Spänen); it is in fact figured sycamore, the varnish a pale golden yellow colour.

Interestingly, it very closely resembles an enlarged version of the Lobkowicz Collections Laux Maler lute 655 1931E (Nelahozeves Castle, Bohemia); the geometry of the two instruments is clearly related.

6. After Hans Frei, Bologna, c. 1540 (Warwick County Museum Nr. 162).

11 ribs, in figured maple or birds-eye maple; neck and pegbox in pear, apple or brown oak; boxwood or figured satinwood fingerboard edged with bone; heart-shaped pegs in either pernambuco, or alternating ebony/pernambuco.**
String length: 720mm
Pitch: e'

£4400 6-course / £4600 7-course

This lute has a very beautiful and unique rose design (shown below and at the top of the homepage of this website) and a beautifully-proportioned and elegant back – quite different in concept to its sister Hans Frei instruments KHM C33 & C34. Interestingly, like both C34 and C33, it exists today as a conversion to 11 courses.

The instrument shown above – strung with Nick Baldock's 'Kathedrale' gut strings – has a back from figured maple of a very similar grain to that of the original; the rose is copied from that of the original lute, and we have reconstructed the probable neck length, the style of the neck and pegbox taken from surviving instruments and iconography. The fingerboard is from figured satinwood, edged with bone; the fingerboard extends onto the soundboard, as many 16th Century lute fingerboards seem to have done, as depicted in contemporary paintings. The fixed wooden body frets had not been fitted when the photographs were taken.

Owned by Ron Andrico and Donna Stewart, of Spencer, New York, who emailed us after receiving it, in February 2006:

"It's incredibly beautiful, like something that belongs in a museum, and it sounds just as good. We love it. It arrived in excellent condition thanks to your careful packing; the carton was barely even scratched. The lute is quite beautiful, the bookmatching of the bowl was done well, creating a wonderful shimmering effect that I can see from across the room this very minute. The rose is one of the best I've seen and I may have logged more time staring at the carving than I have playing the lute so far. More to the point, the lute sounds great. It is a little frightening to hear an instrument sound so well, fresh out of the shipping carton. I played through some of my favourite six-course music, which I have been neglecting for far too long, and had very little problem adjusting to the longer string length. Donna says the lute matches her voice, light and dark at the same time. We read through some early chansons we are preparing for an upcoming program and the polyphony is clear and transparent. Thanks for working with us to make an idea a reality".