View Full Version : tortoiseshell instruments

oldwave maker
Jan-21-2004, 4:03pm
Just returned from a trip to the Ashmolean museum at Oxford UK, snapped these shots of some 18th century instruments veneered with tortoiseshell....

oldwave maker
Jan-21-2004, 4:05pm
3 of the 4 citterns on display had tortoise veneered fretboards like this one. Note the holes thru neck for capo!

Jan-21-2004, 5:20pm
I remember those...very cool.

That's a great museum for the instrument lover...

Did you happen to get to the V&A as well?


John Ely
Jan-21-2004, 5:22pm
I also notice the headstock sort of looks like a Steinberger type. Are the tuners there, behind the head?

Jan-21-2004, 10:40pm
You are a lucky soul, Mr. Bussman. That cittern is more properly termed English guitar or guittar. If you said "guitar" in England in the mid-late 18th c., this would be what they assumed you were addressing. They were tuned to a C major chord and came built to carry a capo. One of the most amateur instuments ever invented. You learn to play in C (which requires little effort given tuning) and then you screw on your capo if you want to play in non-C. In spite of its rather base appeal, very serious composers (like Francesco Geminiani who settled in England) composed for it. Those tuners may be the first geared tuners, appearing in the mid 1700s. They were still in use on the Portuguese guitarra (yet another breed of cittern) in the 20th c. I saw a marvelous, atypical English guittar with a round back of gloriously figured maple and friction pegs in a lute-like pegbox at the Met this fall. Is the proper guitar in the first image the famous "Rizzio" guitar by Voboam, Bill?

Jan-22-2004, 1:16am
Hey Eugene, you think that guittar (cittern looking one) that you capo for different keys and with an open c tuning could be the demise of instruments and the lead to the ba*jo. (Sorry, it was just begging it ;) ) Seriously though, those are some cool looking instruments that someone spent a whole lot of time on! Now, if I could find that stash of tortoise shell....without killing them of course.....

Jan-22-2004, 1:08pm
There's a 3/4 size violin at Der Schatzkammer (The Treasury) in Munich...made entirely of TS. And a cross about 30 inches tall sheathed in TS.

I can hear G_Smolt drooling all the way over here...

oldwave maker
Jan-24-2004, 10:17am
Eugene- That was indeed the Rene Voboam guitar, there was also a 10 string 1688 stradivari guitar in the case...
John- the tuners were evidently operated with a small socket wrench, no doubt to keep drunk banjoplayers from altering your tuning in the middle of a song...
Bruce- never did see the V&A (what exactly is that?) tho there sure was lots of T&A in the newsstand ragsheets...
highlight of the trip was, of course, worshipping at the holy lavalamp of a freshly drawn pint of guiness

Keith Miller
Jan-25-2004, 2:38am
Edinburgh University have a Historic Instrument Collection that is open to the public (free admission) well worth a look if you are in Scotland.

Jan-26-2004, 1:44pm
"Bruce- never did see the V&A (what exactly is that?)"

The Victoria and Albert Museum (http://www.vam.ac.uk/exploring/galleries/european_art/eur_mus_instruments/?section=eur_mus_instruments) in London has a great musical instrument collection...

I'll be heading over there in a couple weeks and will snap some pics...

And also gaze into the foam of a few Holy Lavalamps...:)

Jan-26-2004, 2:59pm
While at the V&A, Bruce, be sure to get a few images of their early mandolini, especially the Lambert with the carved head on the head. I'm mighty keen to see and will consider myself your faithful servant with your success!

Jan-26-2004, 3:45pm
Will do....

One instrument I'd like to check out again is an old French fiddle with an extremely figured bearclaw top, cut on the slab!
A verrrry cool look, really....

Mar-23-2004, 2:54pm
Attention Bruce:
Did you make it to the V&A and shoot some mandolins/mandolini for our amusement?