: : English

Lute Making

Click here for a photo book of lutes by Paul Rans



   In the days I was performing with the Flemish folk group Rum, I also studied classical guitar (early seventies). Having realised that I was always playing Renaissance music on it, I swapped it for a lute. About once a month I used to drive to Cologne with Lieven Misschaert for a lesson with Michael Schäffer, a wonderful player and teacher who sadly died far too young.
    Playing the lute also made me interested in its construction. How did such an instrument work? I read a lot about it, became a member of the Lute Society, looked at iconographical evidence and went to museums, but my first practical experience was actually making a lute from an Ian Harwood kit, in between the Rum tours. That encouraged me to take this a bit further.
    When I stopped performing with Rum in 1975 I moved to England and I learned a lot from talking to makers and players at the London early Music Centre or at the Lute Society summer schools.
I decided to take up lute making more seriously and bought some better tools as well as a supply of tonewoods from dealers in England and Germany, in Erlangen and Bubenreuth, near Nürnberg. There I also visited the National Museum where I had the opportunity to measure up and make a drawing of the beautiful Leopold Widhalm lute as well as inspecting the many other fine lutes in their collection.
I also kept in touch with the Brussels Instrument museum where I made a drawing of the Matteo Sellas theorbo.

   So that’s how I got really involved in lute making, first at my home in London, then in my attic workshop in Swanage, where I also benefited from a lovely view of the sea and the cliffs. Meanwhile I continued singing and playing, obviously on my own instruments.   I have now stopped making but I'm still singing ...


Turning and carving pegs, ‘sharpening’ them to get the correct taper
and sometimes staining them black


13-course baroque lute after J.C. Hoffmann, almost finished