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Coloured Strings

When we look at paintings of lutes from the 16th to 18th century we see quite a variety of coloured strings. Natural gut colour is common, but some strings, particularly basses, are a dark reddish-brown colour. Others are bright red, or blue, or black. It is possible that there is no particular significance to these different colours (other than string identification,

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Some thoughts on string tension

Like many people, I had always wondered why lute strings look so thin in old paintings. Was it because the artist couldn’t be bothered with showing the details of the strings, or was it because the thickest strings were not as thick as we might expect? We know that lutes were strung with sheep gut (and we have no reason to believe that the density of gut was significantly different in the past),

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