Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lacôte 10 String Guitars in Paris

author's photo
Yesterday I visited the Musée de la musique  in Paris to examine two Lacôte 10 string guitars -- decacordes, as they are known, numbers E. 1040 and E. 986.5.1. I have been interested in the pre-classical guitar since my earliest years of building instruments but the era has occupied only a niche for me. Lately, thing have changed. I have lute clients who are interested in the music for accompanying singers and /or for exploring the virtuosic repertoire. It is not just a question of having the appropriate instrument, but of understanding what the period was all about, sound-wise. Many makers built multi-string guitars and I am intrigued by their work. Obviously, the addition of extra strings create imbalances, structural and tonal. These two guitars represent several solutions.

The guitar, in the foreground, is anonymous but built in the style of Lacôte. It is as meticulously built and with excellent materials. Museum curator, Joël Dugot, suggested that Lacôte may have allowed his employees to build guitars for personal sale. Perhaps this is an example of one. The guitar in the background is a Lacôte. This guitar presents a very elegant solution to the problem of weight that such a wide neck produces. The guitar also displays a lever mechanism for the changing the pitch of the diapasons. The treatment of both of these issues in the construction of the anonymous guitar is more utilitarian. You can see photos and descriptions of these guitars on the museum's website at: .  I will report my finding to you at a future date.

As always, Joël Dugot's assistance during my visit was generous and informative. Thank you.

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