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Lute Making

Click here for a photo book of lutes by Paul Rans

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   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.   And today I'm making once again ...



         

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