Category Archives: Types


Seminstrunnaya Gitara

Name: Seminstrunnaya Gitara.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitar > Types > Extended.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Country: Russian Federation.
Region: Eastern Europe.

Description: The Russian guitar [in Russian: семиструнная гитара], sometimes referred to as a “Gypsy guitar”. This type of acoustic seven-string guitar was developed in Russia towards the end of the 18th century. While sharing most of the same organological features with the Spanish guitar.

Some historians insist on English guitar ascendancy. It is known in Russian as the semistrunnaya gitara [семиструнная гитара], or affectionately as the semistrunka [семиструнка], which translates to “seven-stringer”.

History: Although a number of sources associate the invention of the Russian guitar to Andrei Sychra [1773 – 1850]. There are strong reasons to believe that the instrument was already in use when Sychra began his career. Sychra was very influential in creating the school of Russian guitar playing.

He was a very prolific composer leaving a thousand compositions, seventy-five of which were republished in the 1840s by Stellovsky and then again in the 1880s by Gutheil. Some of these were published yet again in the Soviet Union in 1926.

Usage: The Russian version of the seven-string guitar has been used by professionals because of its great flexibility, but has also been popular with amateurs for accompaniment [especially Russian bards] due to the relative simplicity of some basic chords and the ease of playing alternating bass lines.

Tuning: Although these instruments appear similar in shape and acoustics. The Russian and Spanish guitars are tuned differently. The Spanish guitar in tuned to a reentrant tuning containing the intervals of fourths and thirds being the bottom D / G and B strings. Where as the Russian 7 string guitar tuning centres on a G major, the first and most common tuning tuning is an Open G not dissimilar to the Open G “Spanish” or “Tarro Patch” tuning for the six string guitar, with an added bass note being the D bass string.

Seminstrunnaya Gitara Tunings
Names Tunings
Open G D G B D G B D
Bulat Okudzhava D G C D G B D 
G Minor D G C D G BD
Tuning in Classical lit. C G B D G B D
Open G G B D G B D G

Citations: Bibliography: Casey, Fred 2003 From Russia, with strings attached, American Lutherie: The Quarterly Journal of the Guild of American Luthiers [Instrument Plan]. 8222 South Park Avenue, Tacoma WA 98408 USA – The Guild of American Luthiers. Number 75; Anatoly Shiryalin, “Guitar poem”, Moscow, 1994 p.11; Timofeyev, O. and Bazzotti, M – The Seven-String Guitar in 19th-Century Russian Culture; phee, Matayana – A Brief History of the Russian Seven-String Guitar ;

Baroque Guitar

Name: Baroque Guitar.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitar > Types > Baroque.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Period: 1600-1750.
Country: Many.
Region: Western Europe & Europe.

Description: The Baroque guitar [c. 1600–1750] is a string instrument with five courses of gut strings and moveable gut frets. The Baroque guitar replaced the Renaissance lute as the most common instrument found in the home. The earliest attestation of a five-stringed guitar comes from the mid-sixteenth-century Spanish book Declaracion de Instrumentos Musicales by Juan Bermudo, published in 1555.

History: The first treatise published for the Baroque guitar was Guitarra Española de Cinco Ordenes [translated in English as: Spanish Five Order Guitar]. The Five-course Spanish Guitar c. 1590 by Juan Carlos Amat. The baroque guitar in contemporary ensembles took on the role of a basso continuo instrument and players would be expected to improvise a chordal accompaniment. Intimately tied to the development of the Baroque guitar is the alfabeto system of notation. The repertoire includes unaccompanied solo pieces, song accompaniments, dance music and mixed ensemble works.

The instrument was a part of the musical culture of European nobility and aristocrats of the time. Given the number of guitar tutors and solo works published for guitarists of varying levels of accomplishment. The guitar must have also been a part of the musical life of non-aristocratic social strata as well. A substantial repertoire of solo works written for the five course Baroque guitar survives. This music is written in tablature notations that were published throughout Europe from the late 16th to the mid-18th centuries.

Tunings: There were three ways to which one could tune the baroque guitar. The table listed below, includes the names of composers who are associated with each method. Very few sources seem to clearly indicate that one method of stringing rather than another should be used and it is often argued that it may have been up to the player to decide what was appropriate. The issue is highly contentious and different theories have been put forward.

Baroque Guitar Tunings
Musicians Tunings
Gaspar Sanz [Spain, 1674] A D G B E
Antoine Carre [France, 1671] D G B E

Citations: Bibliography: Guitarra Española de Cinco Ordenes [translated in English as: Spanish Five Order Guitar]. The Five-course Spanish Guitar c. 1590 by Juan Carlos Amat ; Declaracion de Instrumentos Musicales by Juan Bermudo, published in 1555; Manfred F. Bukofzer – Music In The Baroque Era: From Monteverdi to Bach, London: J. M. Dent & Sons – 1st UK edition 1948, P. 47 ; Harvey Turnbull, The Guitar – From The Renaissance to the Present Day 3rd, impression 1978 London: Batsford ISBN 0 7134 3251 9 p. 15: Chapter 1 – The Development of the Instrument. Lex Eisenhardt, Bourdons as Usual – In The Lute: The Journal of the Lute Society, vol. XLVII 2007 ; Schirmer Books, pp. 139-153 ; Bibliography: O’Dette, Paul. 1994. “Plucked Instruments,” In A Performer’s Guide to Renaissance Music. ed. Jeffery T. Kite-Powell ; New York: Schirmer Books, pp. 139-153 ; Turnbull, Harvey, and James Taylor. 1984. “Guitar, 1-4” NGDMI v2: 87-99 ; James Tyler, 1980 The Early Guitar: A History and Handbook. London: Oxford University Press ; Websites: Grinnell College Musical Instrument Collection / Baroque Guitar ;

Chitarra Battente

Name: Chitarra Battente.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Tuning: A D G B E
Country: Calabria, Italy.
Region: South Europe & Mediterranean.

Description: The chitarra battente [in Italian “strumming guitar”] however “battente” literally means “beating”. The word “battente” is directly related to the particular playing technique used when playing this particular musical instrument. It is member of the lute/guitar sub-group of the chordophone family. It is similar to the 5-course baroque guitar.

History: It is considered a folk instrument, though it has its origins in the Italian court music in the early Baroque era. Musicologists refer to the “historical” as well as the “folk” chitarra battente. There are many extant historical 17th century instruments in museums.

Varieties: The chitarra battente comes in three sizes. The medium and large instruments are the most common. The instrument may have five or four courses of strings. These courses are typically double or triple, a“course” being a group of 2 or 3 strings plucked as a single unit. Thus chitarra battente is typically a five or four-course instrument.

Construction: There is a great variation in the waisted profile of the chitarra battente. The variations exist in the design, atheistic and the materials used in the construction of the musical instrument.



Name: Bijol.
Type: Chordophone > Lute > Guitar.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Country: East Timor.
Region: South East Asia.

Description: The bijol or Bidu four stringed guitar that is apart of the Timorese string bands found West Miomafo District, North Central Timor. This instrument usually provides accompaniment for the lead instrument, being a fiddle called a heo in Miomafo as the lead instrument. All the instruments in these ensembles are adapted to the local Indigenous tastes even though they were introduced from Western instruments such as the guitar and violin.

Citations: Bibliography: Palmer Keen, ~ White Bird Flew From Afar: Encounters with Bidu in Timor ; Discography: From the East: Sumbawa, East, Timor Vol. 16 LC9626 – SFW40443 [PDF file] ; Websites: Bidu: String Music from the Foothills of Mt. Mutis, Timor [youtube video] ;


Name: Fretless Guitar.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitar > Fretless.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Country: Many.
Region: Global.

Description: A fretless guitar whether electric or acoustic; it is a modified guitar without frets. Most fretless guitars are typically modified versions of “factory made” instruments. This is especially so when it comes to fretless electric guitars they are the most common variety of this musical instrument.

A parallel analogue would be the fretless electric bass. The frets are removed by the player or a professional luthier. This type of guitar can also be custom made by professional builders who specialize in building fretless guitars.

Although it can be difficult to play chords when transitioning from fretted to fretless at first. Fretless does have the advantage of achieving quarter-tones and microtones which would not be present in conventional factory made instruments fretted under the 12-tone system.


Dan Luc Huyen Cam

Name: Dan Luc Huyen Cam.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitar > Scalloped.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Country: Vietnam.
Region: South East Asia.

Description: The đàn lục huyền cầm [literal translation “lute with six strings”], or colloquially đàn ghi-ta phím lõm the literal translation is ghi ta, “guitar”, phim “fret”, lom, “sunken.  This particular type of guitar is a Vietnamese adaptation. The guitar was adopted by Vietnamese musicians during the 19th Century. This form of guitar is commonly used in cải lương or “Southern Reformed Theater.    Having a scalloped fingerboard allows for note bending and other ornamentation that are featured throughout Vong Co.  

Dan Luc Huyen Cam Tunings
Names Tunings
Day Rach-Gia E A D G D G
Day Lai D A D G D G
Day Sai D G D G D G

Citations: Bibliography: Adelaida Reyes Songs of the Caged, Songs of the Free: Music and the Vietnamese Refugee Experience 1999 Page 186 “This “doctoring” involves carving the fingerboard deeper between the frets, making the fingerboard look scalloped. … Also called lục huyền cầm [literally, guitar; see Jones-Bamman 1991:73-75] or Vietnamese guitar, the instrument has six strings.” ; The Garland handbook of Southeast Asian music – Page 262 Terry E. Miller, Sean Williams 2008 “Lục huyền cầm “six-stringed instrument” and dan ghi-ta are Vietnamese terms for the Western guitar, used in traditional …” ; Cải lương is also called Southern Reformed Theater [Nguyen and Campbell 1990:28; Pham Duy 1975:112] ; Websites : Encyclopedia of Vietnamese Music ;

9 String

Name: 9 String Guitar.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitars > Extended > Range.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Country: Many, USA.
Region: Many, USA.

Description: A nine string guitar is any guitar having 9 strings instead of the commonly used 6 string guitar. The first type of 9-String Guitar, is often employed with three pairs of coursed strings similar to a twelve-string guitar. Often the three wound strings are single and the three thin strings are doubled to six strings.  Some examples of this type of nine-string guitar are the Vox Mark IX and the Vox Phantom IX.

The second style of 9 String guitar expands on the seven and eight-string guitar concept by adding either an additional lower or higher-tuned strings. When a lower string is added, the standard tuning becomes C# / F# / B / E / A / D / G / B / E. The scale is often lengthened, e.g., on the Ibanez RG9 [712 mm / 28″ instead of the common 25.5″]. Tuning the highest string to an A4 or higher can be accomplished with a shorter scale length and/or a thinner string such as a .008 or .007

Citations: Bibliography: Websites:

11 String Guitar

Name: 11 String Guitar.
Type: Chordophones > Lute > Guitars > Extended > Range.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Tunings: Bb / C / D / Eb / F / G / C / F / Bb / D / G
Inventor: Georg Bolin 1960s [Sweden].
Country: Many, Europe, USA.
Region: Many, Europe, USA.

Description: The eleven-string alto guitar [also known as altgitarr, archguitar or Bolin guitar] is an extended-range classical guitar developed by Swedish luthier Georg Bolin in the 1960s. Original Bolin instruments are now rare and valuable. The Bolin alto guitar most often has eleven strings, but Bolin also made a thirteen-string version.

In the United States, luthier Walter Stanul makes performance instruments ranging from 11 to 13 strings called the Archguitar. The design and the body shape of this guitar is similar to the vihuela, and thus it is fundamentally different from the Bolin design.

History: Georg Bolin first constructed 11-string alto guitar with collaboration with Swedish guitarist Per-Olof Johnson in 1960s. Johnson is the teacher of a well-known guitarist Göran Söllscher who made this instrument famous through his extensive usage of Bolin’s 11 String alto guitar.

Johnson was fond of lute music, but the difference in playing techniques between guitar and lute is significant, and he was looking for a way to play lute music using guitar playing technique. Thus, the design goal was specifically to be able to play renaissance lute music directly from original tabs using guitar playing technique.

Features: The 11-string alto guitar is a multi-string classical guitar, which generally refers to classical guitars with more than six strings. Classical guitars with extra strings can have from seven to 13 or more strings. The first six strings are tuned in the same intervals as the normal classic guitar. Therefore, a musician can play with conventional fingering on those strings.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites:

Harp Guitars

Name: Harp Guitars.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitars.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Country: Many
Region: Europe & North America.

Description: The harp guitar or [harp-guitar] is a guitar-based stringed instrument defined as a guitar or any of its accepted forms, having any number of additional unstopped strings that can accommodate plucking. The word “harp” is used in reference to its harp-like unstopped open strings. A harp guitar must have at least one unfretted string that runs parallel to the fingerboard while remaining outside of the fingerboard.

This family consists of many varieties of instrument configurations. Most readily identified are American harp guitars with either hollow arms, double necks or harp-like frames for supporting extra bass strings and European bass guitars [or contra guitars]. Other harp guitars feature treble or mid-range floating strings, or various combinations of multiple floating string banks along with a standard guitar neck.

12 String Guitar

Name: 12-String Guitar.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitar.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Tuning: Ee / Aa / Dd / Gg / bb / ee
Country: Many, USA.
Region: Many, North America.

Description: The origin of the modern 12-string guitar is not certain, but the most likely ancestors using courses of doubled strings are some Mexican instruments such as the guitarra séptima, the guitarra quinta huapanguera and the bajo sexto. At the end of the 19th century, the archtop mandolin was one of the first instruments with courses of doubled strings designed in the United States.

Usage: In the 19th and early 20th centuries, 12-strings were regarded as “novelty” instruments. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s the 12-string guitar arose in popularity due to its bright “bell like” sound, making it suitable for accompaniment for vocalists. This type of guitar was popular among blues musicians notably Lead Belly and Blind Willie McTell. Lead Belly’s protegé, Fred Gerlach, introduced the instrument into the folk-music world.

Initially, it was primarily used for accompaniment, owing to the greater difficulty of picking or executing string “bends” on its double-strung courses. During the 1960s folk-revival and later the 1970s this guitar was introduced into many different genres from blues, folk, rock, jazz and popular music. In the later 20th century, however, a number of players devoted themselves to producing solo performances on the 12-string guitar.

Tuning: Typically the 12-string guitar is tuned to E / A / D / G / B / E or Ee / Ae / Dd / Gg / bb / ee, the same as the 6-string acoustic and classical guitars. The courses are arranged in pairs of two strings.

Nashville Tuning: This concept refers to a means of simulating a 12-string guitar sound, using two six-string guitars playing in unison. This is achieved by replacing the lower four courses on one six-string with the higher octave strings for those four courses from a 12-string set. and tuning these four strings an octave higher than normal tuning for those courses on a six-string. Double-tracking this guitar with the standard-tuned six-string is commonly used in recording studios to achieve a “cleaner” 12-string effect.