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Guide to the Best Lutes of 2019

Kayla Carstens

A lute is technically any stringed instrument with a neck and a round back with a hollow body. The lute is a very old instrument and is rarely played today, it was mostly known in medieval music, baroque music and in the renaissance. The lute was used mainly in and before baroque times to accompany a vocalist or another instrument by playing basso continuo which is a special notation that used numbers to indicate what the instrumentalist should play. Artists do play the lute in recent times such as Julian Bream, Hans Neemann, Walter Gerwig, Suzanne Bloch and Diana Poulton. If you are a fan of old music and want to play something unique that holds centuries of history then you may consider the lute a viable option.


We’ve composed this buyer’s guide to help you make the right decision when selecting a lute. It'll help you:

  • Choose the right type of lute,

  • See useful tips about that type of lute,

  • Select the right brand of the lute,

  • Find accessories you may need for your lute.

Types of Lutes

Types of Lutes:

  • Sopranino Lute:

    • The sopranino lute could have 6 to 14 strings and was played in the upper part of the soprano clef.

    • The sopranino lute is the highest keyed lute.

  • Soprano Lute:

    • The soprano lute is the second highest of the lutes and is played in the soprano clef.

    • The soprano clef can have up to 14 strings.

  • Alto Lute:

    • The alto lute can have up to 14 strings and is played in the alto clef.

  • Tenor Lute:

    • Renaissance 6-Course Tenor Lute:

      • This lute had the original design of only six strings.

      • The tenor lute was played by reading notation on the tenor staff and was tuned from top to bottom string:

        • G (lower)

        • C

        • F

        • A

        • D

        • G (higher)

    • Renaissance 8-Course Tenor Lute:

      • This lute has an added two strings to add more of a bass accompaniment.

      • The tenor lute was played by reading notation on the tenor staff and was tuned from top to bottom string:

        • D (lower)

        • F (lower)

        • G (lower)

        • C

        • F (higher)

        • A

        • D (higher)

        • G (higher)

    • Renaissance 10-Course Tenor Lute:

      • This lute has another added two strings to the renaissance 8-course tenor lute.

      • The tenor lute was played by reading notation on the tenor staff and was tuned from top to bottom string:

        • C

        • D

        • E♭

        • F

        • G

        • C

        • F

        • A

        • D

        • G


  • Bass Lute:

    • The bass lute is the lowest type of lute and can have up to 14 strings.

    • The bass lute is played using the bass clef.

What reviewers say

Items that Can be Used with Your Lute:

  • Lute Case:

    • This is a specially designed case to store your lute in and transport it and any accessories safely.

  • Lute Strap:

    • This is a strap that you connect to the lute and use to help you play when standing up or moving.

  • Lute Picks:

    • These are small triangular pieces of plastic that come with varying thicknesses, that is used to pick or strum the string on your lute.

  • Spare Strings:

    • After a lot of playing, strings tend to break and it is therefore wise to purchase and keep spare strings handy for any emergencies.

  • Lute Stand:

    • This is a specially designed stand for you to place your lute on when you are not playing or when you don't need to place it in a case.

  • Polishing Cloth:

    • This is a cloth that you use to keep your lute clean and pristine with no smudges or dust on it.


  • Hygrometer and Thermometer:

    • This is a device that measures the temperature and amount of moisture in the air in order to make sure that your lute does not crack or sustain damage.

Important Features

Tips for Consumers:

  • Hire Before You Buy:

    • The lute is not a cheap instrument and it is recommended by many manufacturers and experts that beginners should rather rent a lute before buying one to make sure that it is worth it to spend the money to buy one.

  • What music will you play?

    • It is important to consider what genres you want to play as different lutes have different sounds and can thereby impact the genre you play. Consider consulting a lute teacher about what you would like to play and what sound would be best for you.


  • Parts Of the Lute:

    • Strap Button:

      • This is a button that one can attach a strap to in order to play easier whilst moving about or standing up.

    • Bridge:

      • This is the small raised rectangle on the body of the lute, to which the strings are attached.

      • It is important to make sure that your bridge is adjusted and set properly for proper playing, this can be done personally through online tutorials or through a professional at a musical instrument store.

    • Pick Guard:

      • A pickguard is a hard slab of material that is used to protect the wood of the top of the lute from being scratched by your pick when playing.

    • Soundhole:

      • The sound hole is the piece of wood that has been cut out of the body that allows for better vibration and volume.

    • Fret:

      • Frets are the raised lines on the neck of the lute are that indicate where you should play the chords to achieve a certain pitch.

    • Nut:

      • The nut is the raised ridge that separates the neck from the headstock.

    • Tuner:

      • This refers to the knobs on the top end of the neck of the lute, that a lutist can use to tune the lute and make sure all strings are in tune.

    • Headstock:

      • Headstock refers to the piece wood on the end of the neck of the lute, to which the tuning keys are attached.

    • Neck:

      • A lutes neck is usually fretted and is above the body of the guitar. The more frets, the longer the neck and the harder it'll be to reach certain chords.

    • Body:

      • The body of the lute is everything below the neck.

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