Lute by Marx Unverdorben, Venice 1500-1525

This 7 course lute was made by Marx Unverdorben of Venice 1500-1525.
It is in the collection of the Museu de la musica, Barcelona, Inventory # MDMB 408
Handwritten label: Marx Unverdorben in Venetia

The data gathered on this Marx Unverdorben lute is preparation for making a copy as near as possible.

You can find more information at the following links:

Extant Lutes Database

Museu de la musica, Barcelona

7 C Renaissance Lute

This lute is nearing completion and is based on an original lute made by Georg Gerle (Vienna SAM 31). The back is of figured koa. The top is Engelmann Spruce harvested locally in Idaho.

The rosette is adapted from an original design by M. C. Escher.  

Please inquire if you are interested as I am considering options for action and finish.

Myrtle for Lute backs

Umbellularia californica is a large hardwood tree native to the Pacific Northwest, commonly known as Myrtle, California Bay Laurel, Pepperwood, or Myrtlewood.

Myrtle physical properties are similar to African Mahogany and is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

While traveling through Oregon I stopped at a roadside shop specializing in beautiful decorative and functional objects made from myrtle.  Amazingly, they sourced all their wood locally and kiln dried in their own custom building.

I purchased a large plank of myrtle to experiment for lute backs.

Dimensioning and cutting the rib blanks was easy, with the band saw properly setup this is a pleasure.

I was able to get enough myrtle to make two complete 13 course baroque lute backs. 

The first myrtle set had a very straight figure and uniformity from rib to rib.

The resulting back was also very uniform and quite striking. 

I noticed a very slight yellow-greenish tint which I found troubling, and so I experimented with a darker stain. It produced a very pleasing effect.

The second set was rather wild !

Here is the completed lute.  I finished the instrument with true-oil.

A third and fourth sets of myrtle were cut from a board generously given to me by a violin maker and proved to be quite different from the first two sets.  I found these sets the most pleasing because the figure was interesting and the raw wood color very pleasing.

Working with myrtle was a joy. I found no particular issues cutting, sanding, bending, trimming or gluing.  As I remember the raw wood was very economical. 

With the right piece of wood, I would not hesitate to build more lute backs from myrtle.

Renaissance Lute – 8 Course

This lute is made of figured mahagony with a solid neck of the same wood. The top is Western Red Cedar and fingerboard of east indian rosewood.

This lute was made in the 1980’s and has been well-played since then. It is due for a little fix-up and cosmetic repair.

I changed the top from Western Red Cedar to Sitka.

Farrier Rasp – $20

Why would you want a Farrier rasp? What is a Farrier anyway?

Well, a farrier takes care of trimming and shoeing horses’ hooves.

They use a very large rasp about 14″ long and 1 3/4″ wide that has a very coarse side and a finer side.

Filing a lute rib edge smooth

Amazingly, these files only last a few days of rasping hooves before they are too dull, and require too many passes to flatten a hoof. Farriers typically throw them away or give away to someone who makes knives.

However, once they are too dull for farrier use they make GREAT rasps for shaping guitar or lute necks. They are also handy for jobs you would not expect because they look so aggressive. Their length and great width are handy for flattening at odd times as well.

I collect these rasps from time to time because we also have a horse and cattle ranch and am offering them to luthiers if you are interested. I clean them up, so if you want to give one a try, just let me know. You can buy new of course, for $25 or so, but they really ARE too sharp when new. I can send you a used one for $20 plus shipping.