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Thread: 9 string ID

  1. #1

    Default 9 string ID

    St. Louis Art Museum identifies this 9 string as an "English guitar". Painted in 1766. Anybody seen or played one? What would the original tuning be? thanks!
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  2. #2
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
    Rochester NY 14610

    Default Re: 9 string ID

    From Hobgoblin Music FAQ's:

    The English guitar and the Scottish guittar are one and the same instrument. The term 'English guitar' was invented in this century to describe it, in the 18th century the spelling 'guittar' would have been always used for this instrument - they didn't call it English, or Scottish, or Irish or anything else, just a 'guittar'. The tuning from Bremner's tutor, the leading tutor book of the era, gives A=440, tune A C# E a c# e.

    Open "A" tuning, in other words. The tuning is given for a six-string instrument; if this one has nine strings, it might either have three doubled courses, or might have extended range. Here's a Wikipedia article that says the English guitar has ten strings, two single and four double courses, and says it was tuned to open C.
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  3. #3
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Jun 2003
    Northop, North Wales

    Default Re: 9 string ID

    Check out the master of the English guittar, our Cafe member Rob MacKillop:

    The instrument he's playing in this video is dated c. 1765, i.e. contemporaneous with the painting.


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  5. #4
    '`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`' Jacob's Avatar
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    Sep 2002

    Default Re: 9 string ID

    From the catalogue of Stephen Barber & Sandi Harris, Lutemakers , scroll down to 10.

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    String length: 426mm
    Stringing: 4x2, 2x1 (courses 1 - 3 plain wire, 4th, 5th & 6th courses overspun)
    Pitch: g' (tuning: g' - e' - c - g - e - C)

    This English Guitar was once owned by Thomas Jefferson's granddaughter Virginia Randolph Trist.

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    This has Preston tuners, the style used on Portuguese guitarras.

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  7. #5

    Default Re: 9 string ID

    Thanks all! The curator sent a closeup, looks like the nut shows doubled treble courses:
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