Tag Archives: Types


Renaissance Guitar

Name: Renaissance Guitar.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitar > Types.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Period: 16th Century.
Country: Many.
Region: Western Europe & Europe.

Description: The Renaissance guitar is most likely have evolved during the late 15th century from the application of design features and construction techniques for Spanish lutes and vihuela’s of the time to a more simply constructed simply constructed earlier plucked lute called the gittern.

The features that set guitars apart from earlier gittern were: the neck and constructed resonator being separate units joined together rather than being carved from a single block of wood; a relatively long neck with frets rather than a fretless short neck; and a figure-eight-shaped resonator rather than a pear-shaped one.

Renaissance Guitar Tunings
Names Tunings
Temple Nuevos G C E A

A period during which the five course Baroque guitar also existed and was in widespread use. An interesting note on the tenacity of musical practice over spans of time and distance: the temple nuevos tuning, minus the bordón [G4] is used as the standard tuning for the Hawaiian ‘ukulele, which was developed from various diminutive Iberian folk guitars [machête de braça, cavaquinho / braguinha, tiple/timple] brought to Hawaii by late 19th century Portuguese immigrants, who included in their numbers instrument makers.

Construction: The resonator or body is made from thinly shaven boards of maple wood. The renaissance guitar is in a figure eight shaped not all that dissimilar to the current Classical Guitar. Although the body is proportioned differently. The resonating chamber is covered with a flat soundboard of straight-grained softwood [spruce or pine]. Near the centre of the soundboard a circular sound hole that is covered with a delicately carved and perforated rosette of wood and bone.

A long wooden bridge is glued across the soundboard just above its bottom end. A neck made of hardwood, rounded on its backside but flat on its front side. The neck is securely joined to the top end of the resonator. Its flat side, which is in the same plane as the soundboard, serves as the fingerboard. The top end of the fingerboard terminates in a nut made of bone. Ten gut frets are securely tied around the neck. Joined to the top of the neck and bent back very slightly is the peg block with seven back-mounted wooden tuning pegs.

Seven strings are arranged in four courses, the three lowest-pitched courses are double and the highest-pitched one is single. One end of each string is tied to the bridge on the soundboard.  The strings pass over the resonator from nut to bridge, passing over the resonator and above the frets on the fingerboard. Making contact with the nut as it passes over it. The strings are then finally threaded through and wound around a tuning peg. The strings all have the same vibrating length of 50.5 cm or 19.9 inches as measured from the bridge to the nut.

Citations: Bibliography: Paul O’Dette 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 v.2: 87-99 ; James Tyler, 1980 The Early Guitar: A History and Handbook. London: Oxford University Press ; Websites

9 String Guitar

Name: 9 String Guitar.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitars > Extended Range.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Tuning: C# F# B  E A D G B E
Scale Length: 647 mm / 25.5 inch “common”.
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 type of 9 String Guitar expands on the concepts of the seven and eight string guitar. When a lower string is added, the standard tuning becomes C# / F# / B / E / A / D / G / B / E. The scale length of 9 string guitars just as their six string counter parts. The scale is often lengthened for example; on the Ibanez RG9 / 712 mm / 28” inches instead of the common 25.5” inches. Tuning the highest string to an A4 or higher can be accomplished with a shorter scale length and or optionally a thinner string such as a .008 or .007 can be used.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites:

8 String Guitar

Name: 8 String Guitar.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitars > Extended Range.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.321.5/6
Scale Length:
Courses: 8 Single Strings.
Country: USA, Many.
Region: North America.

Description: An eight string guitar has two or more strings then the usual six string guitar or one more then the 7 string guitar. Eight string guitars are available although less common then their six or seven string guitar counterparts. They are played by classical, jazz and metal guitarists. The eight string guitar allows for a wider tonal range and or non-standard tunings.

Name Tunings

Construction: The eight string guitar follows the same approach to its six string counter part. The primary difference is that due to the amount of strings added to the guitar. The neck needed to be thicker then the conventional six-string guitar. Frets are installed in a chromatic fashion. The main design issue faced with an eight-string guitar is tuning stability with the lower strings. This is due to the neck being constructed too short, bridge problems such as improper intonation, uneven spacing for floating bridges, or the use of wrong string gauges.

Other problems associated with tuning stability rely on proper set up of the guitar. Some extended range eight string guitars feature a multi-scale design where the bass strings will be longer then the treble strings. This is what is called a “fanned fret” design.  Fretting the eight string guitar in a “fanned” manner assists with the intonation of the lower strings, it improves the string tension, and the balance across the strings improving the harmonic overtones and harmonic overtone series.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites:

Narcisco Yepes

Name: Narciso Yepes 10-string guitar.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitars > Extended Range.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Tuning: F# G# A# C E A d g b e’
Scale Length: 650mm / 25.6 Inch / 664mm / 26.1 Inch.
Courses: 10 Individual Strings.
Inventors: Narciso Yepes & José Ramírez.
Luthiers: José Ramírez.
Country: Spain.
Region: Iberian Peninsula & Western Europe.

Description: The Narciso Yepes 10-string guitar is a variety of the extended range family of guitars. It was conceived by conceived in collaboration by Narciso Yepes and constructed by José Ramírez in 1963. This instrument is called the “modern” 10-string guitar. In order to differentiate this guitar from other extended-range guitars including the 10-stringed guitars of the 19th century.

Narciso Yepes 10-string guitar / Tunings
Names Tunings
F# G# A# C E  A d g b e’
F# G# A# B’ E A d g b e’
F# G# A# A’ E A d g b e’
F G# A# C E A d g b e’
F G# A# A’ E A d g b e’
Malagueña by Izaac Albénez F# G A# C E A d g b e’

Constructions: In Ser Instrumento; Yepes mentions the reasons that led him to carry out the “design” [diseño] of his instrument were physical or acoustic [“físicas”] and musical [“musicales”]. After some “initial protest” that the 10-string guitar envisioned by Yepes was “impossible”to construct. Ramírez agreed to the commission and completed the first of these instruments in March 1964.

Yepes hastens to point out that he invented nothing [inventado nada] by adding four strings to the guitar. Nothing the constantly changing number of strings on the guitar during its history. Including the 10-stringed guitars of the 18th and 19th centuries. Like earlier 10-stringed guitars, his instrument has an augmented tessitura.

However, unlike the earlier 6 or 10 stringed extended range guitars, the normal tuning of the strings Yepes added “also incorporates all the natural resonance that the instrument lacked in eight of twelve notes of the equal tempered scale”. As Yepes explains, the tuning of the Romantic ten-stringed guitars is “not exactly the same, because the tuning that I use is also for the resonance”.

Today, ten-string instruments to Ramírez’ original design remain available from the Ramírez Company and similar instruments in a variety of designs are available both from the Ramírez Company and other luthiers, notably from Paulino Bernabe Senior. Their scale lengths range from 650mm [25.6″] and 664mm [26.1″].

Citations: Bibliography: Fred Kazandjian, 1992 The Concept and Development of the Yepes Ten-String Guitar: a Preliminary Investigation [M. M. thesis] University of Cape Town ; Fred Kazandjian, 1995 “An Interview with Narciso Yepes in Cabo-Roig, Alicante – Spain on 7 July 1987”. Musicus. 23 [2]: 11–18 ; Kozinn, Allan [22 November 1981]. “Narciso Yepes and his 10-string guitar”. New York Times ; J. Ramírez 1994 “Andrés Segovia, the guitar and I”. Things About the Guitar. Bold Strummer. ISBN 978-84-87969-40-9 ; J. Ramírez 1994 “The ten-string guitar” Things About the Guitar. Bold Strummer. pp. 137–140. ISBN 978-84-87969-40-9 ; 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

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.


Terz Guitar

Name: Terz Guitar.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitar.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.321.5/6
Courses: Six Strings.
Scale Length: 530 mm to 560 mm
Country: Many.
Region: Many.

Description: The terz guitar [terz meaning third] refers to either a small sized classical guitar. It is either a small size guitar or the practice of tuning a guitar to a minor third higher than the standard guitar tuning. As if a capo was placed on the third fret on the neck of a guitar. The scale length is generally 530 mm / 20.8 inches though sometimes as long as 560 mm / 22 inches. 

Mauro Giuliani and Caspar Joseph Merton wrote extensively for the terz guitar as a compliment to the prime or standard guitar. Acceptable alternate spelling for terz include tierce, third and tertz. String makers now produce strings that allow terz guitar tuning on standard scale length guitars at normal string tension.

Citations: Bibliography: Schneider, John [1985]: The Contemporary Guitar, P. 157 ISBN 0-520-04048-1 Websites: