Early guitars / vihuelas

Although I’m generally more interested in designing and making modern instruments, I do listen to a lot of early music, and I enjoy the sound and music of the vihuela and early guitars, so in 2016 I decided to start making some early guitar models.
There are already several luthiers making excellent copies of historical instruments, and that isn’t an area that I’m currently interested in working in. My intention is to make high quality players instruments, which are “functionally authentic” in terms of their basic size, shape and sound, but built in a simple and semi-modern way and affordably priced. Aimed at musicians who want to play the renaissance and baroque vihuela and guitar repertoire, but are more interested in having something nicely playable than a 100% authentic replica of a historical instrument.
I’m also interested in the idea of making “early guitars” which will work well in a modern musical context, i.e. they play in tune with modern equal temperament instruments. With that in mind, I am planning to used fixed frets and a bridge with a removable saddle, to allow for easy and precise intonation and action adjustment.
This is a new area for me, and I’ve only been working on it this year (2016), but I have built prototype versions of four and five course guitars and a six-course vihuela. These are still the early stages of design development, and testing out some basic ideas.

2016 5-course guitar

A fun-sized and semi-baroque 5-course guitar.

Top: Sitka spruce
Back/sides: Sapelli (FSC)
Neck: cedrela (FSC)
Fingerboard: Blackwood Tek (http://corporate.madinter.com/blackwood-tek/)

string length – 560mm

2016 6-course vihuela

A simple 6-course vihuela. Designed for G tuning, but could also work at E or F

Top: European spruce
Back/sides: English walnut
Neck: cedrela (FSC)
Fingerboard/bridge: plum
Pegs: boxwood

string length – 620mm

2016 4-course guitar

soundboard – european spruce
back/sides – cypress
neck – beech
fingerboard/bridge/binding – plum
pegs/endpin/frets – boxwood

string length – 480mm