The Lute Online Resources Portal (LORP): Lute Strings and Other Supplies

Lute Strings and other supplies


Lute Strings - intro

To choose strings for your lute, you need to know (a) the vibrating string length, that is from the bridge to the fretnut, (b) the key of the lute, (named after the top string), and the tuning scheme (renaissance or baroque), (c) the pitch standard (typically modern pitch, A = 440 Hz, or so-called baroque pitch, a semitone lower at A=415 Hz), and (d) how heavily strung the lute should be (thin strings a low tension, or fatter strings at a slightly higher tension can produce the same note); but lutes cannot be very heavily strung because the structure is too fragile for high tension stringing. Ask a lute maker or string dealer if in doubt.

Then there is the choice of string materials: historical stringing is in gut (though silk strings were sometimes used); modern options (cheaper, in some ways more practical and much more commonly used today) are various types of nylon, fluorocarbon or other polymers on the treble and middle courses, and metal-wound strings, of fine wire wound on a nylon floss. On the bass side. If in doubt contact one of the lute teachers or lute makers for advice.

Online general advice and discussion

Online string calculators

Lute string calculators can be found on the following sites:

Lute String Dealers

Most lute string dealers also have online calculators – or you can simply contact them directly for advice of course.

Lute String Manufacturers

Most of these will supply directly to customers if you know what you want and choose not to go through a dealer or retail stockist:

Lute string installation

Some strings require extra care and attention during installation.

Lute Frets

These can be made of nylon, but more generally of gut, tied around the neck of the lute, they can be single or double; lute string suppliers and dealers will generally supply material for frets too. The gauge required will relate to the height of the nut and of the bridge, and other dimensions of the instrument. Ideally lutes should be supplied with a schedule of fret and string gauges which you should keep in the case, or in a safe place. If in doubt, lute makers should be able to advise.
For advice on tying on frets,and setting the frets to produce specific temperaments, see Frequently asked questions page

Lute Cases

The Lute Society publishes a CD ROM, ‘Make your own lightweight lute case’ by David van Edwards, not as sturdy as a professionally made bespoke case, but acceptable for casual everyday use, at:

Essay on a do-it-yourself lute case by Donna Curry:

Lute Straps

Lute Pegs

Tabulature paper

Tuning meters

There are now applications and software turn your computer or hand-held device into a tuning meter:

Chromatia tuner software, download to your computer to use it as a tuning meter:

Lute building supplies: tonewoods, glue, etc

A search for 'tonewood suppliers' with a normal search engine gives a good list of options.

United Kingdom