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mainly as an accompanying instrument, for a chordal or even strummed style of playing?Or does it belong to a later period of the vihuela making tradition (early 17th century) when the vihuela and the guitar started to share similar acoustical principles in their construction, as seems to be the case with the Quito vihuela?
The consistency of this correlation is particularly notable within the individual members of plucked and / or bowed families of musical instruments (those of the viol or guitar, for example).Here vihuelas and guitars are often linked together.of 26 August 1619 commits that “…one instrument which at the moment is strung as a guitar but was constructed by Francisco de Lipuste as a vihuela; it is, at present, strung as a guitar to make it easier for … The arrival of this book also coincided with the start of my new vihuela project.The main implication of this design is a rather noticeable boost in the mid-range frequency response and this could well be reserved to serve a specific purpose – for playing polyphonic music for example.On the other hand, guitars, as the surviving instruments demonstrate, were being made with proportionally larger and deeper bodies – a feature that seems to be inherent to their construction from the early 17th century onwards – and which results in a more ‘boomy’ quality of sound.For the time being there is simply not enough information to answer these questions conclusively.
The next step in my exploration of the Dias was fairly logically centering around one of the most intriguing features of its construction - the presence of 11 peg holes in its peg head (Plate1, first left).
Having made flat-back vihuelas before I was thinking of taking the plunge into fluted-back design …
Purely intuitively I was drawn to the beauty of the Belchior Dias 1581 : every part of it, apart from the soundboard (which is a later replacement), looked not only a masterpiece of design but also the highest manifestation of the luthier’s craft 3.
The earliest surviving 5-course guitars mostly have rather deep bodies and hence their string length to body volume ratio is considerably lower than that of the Dias.
Owing to the scarcity of surviving instruments, at the current stage of the research, one can only guess if the way the Dias instrument was designed was reserved, at the time of the advancement of the guitar in the 1580s, solely for the construction of vihuelas.
It was both a fascinating and inspiring experience to read through remarkably detailed historical accounts of examination certificates, workshop and collection inventories, lists of public sales of instruments and tools etc.