I spent the day measuring and making templates of the bowl. Some lute makers built elaborate contraptions for recording bowl contours, but faced with a trans-atlantic flight I wanted to find a simpler way. I used the same principle but substituted laminated card stock for templates that I had prepared in advance.These were supported in grooves cut in pine blocks that were positioned on a paper grid. Throughout the process I used the grid to record reference points.
After finishing each contour I traced the result on heavy paper. Besides the axis contour I made four cross-sections; one at the deepest point of the bowl, another at the front block, a third between these two points and a fourth at a point equal to the bridge position.
I had seen museum photos and read descriptions of the lute so I knew in advance there were features of the instrument that were either not original or suspect.
Mike's Oud Forums . I finished the afternoon examining these.
I was interested in determining if the bowl retained its original contour because the outline of the belly appears too full for a lute of this era. Lute bowls are flexible and were often forced into a different shape and fitted with a new belly during later re-buildings . The rear view of the bowl also suggests a degree of forced distortion and the belly displays a dip of 6 mm or more from the imaginary plane when I put a straight edge on it. Luthiers achieve this latter effect by either cutting down the edge ribs or pushing the edge ribs out to a wider contour. You can see in a previous photo that the ribs have not been cut down by any appreciable degree.
Is the belly original? It is very fine grain wood, but the design of the inset rose and the style of the guitar type bridge makes me suspicious. The current rose and bridge could occupy and obscure the position of the originals. I will compare the positions of these with the information that I have gleaned from other Unverdorben lutes that I have examined and analyze the contours of the bowl further before I reach a decision.
I have no doubt that the neck is original. Its dimensions agree with surviving original six course lutes and it has a characteristic "V" shape like that found on the lute by Georg Gerle.
A convincing feature is how the 19th century guitar peghead fits into the original recess of the lute pegbox. The angle at the end of the ivory neck is 9 degrees. A line representing the seat of the recess is visible too. The edge strip of ivory veneer would have continued across this area to the nut, but it has been replaced with ebony in order to blend with the guitar peghead.
Unverdorben Lute V&A 193-1882
I would like to thank Jason Sutcliffe, Museums Development Manager, for arranging and making my visit so enjoyable and especially for sharing his passion for Dean Castle so enthusiastically with Sue and me.
Dean Castle Country Park