The Lute Society: Lute Tuning

Lute Tuning

The lute has had many tunings over its life. Below is a table containing common tuning schemes.

There were also a number of transitional tunings between the classical renaissance and baroque tunings.

Tuning Table

The following table is provided as an aid for students of the lute and is based on a table originally assembled by Matthew Leigh Embleton. Any corrections or additions are welcomed and can be sent to the webmaster.

Please note that this list it is not entirely comprehensive, as there were so very many experimental and variant tunings. Lutes in other keys would transpose the whole scheme as necessary. Don't try to tune a lute strung in G into an 'A' tuning or the strings will break! Instead, transpose the whole tuning scheme down, as appropriate to the size of your lute.

The letters in the table are given in Scientific pitch notation and are specified for an instrument as if it were tuned at A=440. For Baroque lutes this is not typically the case, but still with your pitch set to A=415 or otherwise, the pitch names are still the same.

The mediaeval tunings are somewhat speculative; there is not much indication of how lutes were tuned before the late 15th century.

6RenaissanceLuteDalza Scordatura (Type 1, 1508)A4E4B3G3C3G2
6RenaissanceLuteDalza Scordatura (Type 2, 1508)A4E4B3G3D3G2
7RenaissanceLute (Octave)DD5A4E4C4G3D3C3
7RenaissanceLute (Octave)CC6G5D5B♭4F4C4B♭3
7RenaissanceLute (Descant)BB4F#C#A3E3B2F#
7RenaissanceLute (Descant)AA4E4B3G3D3A2G2
7RenaissanceLute (Alto)G (Type 1)G4D4A3F3C3G2F2
7RenaissanceLute (Alto)G (Type 2)G4D4A3F3C3G2D2
7RenaissanceLute (Alto)F (Type 1)F4C4G3E♭3B♭2F2E♭2
7RenaissanceLute (Alto)F (Type 2)F4C4G3E♭3B♭2F2C2
7RenaissanceLute (Tenor)EE4B3G♭3D3A2E2D2
7RenaissanceLute (Bass)DD4A3E3C3G2D2C2
7RenaissanceLute (Bass)CC5G4D4B♭3F3C3B♭2
7RenaissanceLute (Bass)GG3D3A2F2C2G1F1
8RenaissanceLute (Octave)DD5A4E4C4G3D3C3B♭2
8RenaissanceLute (Octave)CC6G5D5B♭4F4C4B♭3A♭3
8RenaissanceLute (Descant)BB4F#C#A3E3B2F#E2
8RenaissanceLute (Descant)AA4E4B3G3D3A2G2F2
8RenaissanceLute (Alto)G (Type 1)G4D4A3F3C3G2F2D2
8RenaissanceLute (Alto)G (Type 2)G4D4A3F3C3G2F2C2
8RenaissanceLute (Alto)F (Type 1)F4C4G3E♭3B♭2F2E♭2C
8RenaissanceLute (Alto)F (Type 2)F4C4G3E♭3B♭2F2E♭2B♭1
8RenaissanceLute (Tenor)EE4B3G♭3D3A2E2D2C2
8RenaissanceLute (Bass)DD4A3E3C3G2D2C2B♭1
8RenaissanceLute (Bass)CC5G4D4B♭3F3C3B♭2A♭2
8RenaissanceLute (Bass)GG3D3A2F2C2G1F1E♭1
9RenaissanceLute (Alto)G (Type 1)G4D4A3F3C3G2F2E♭2D2
9RenaissanceLute (Alto)G (Type 2)G4D4A3F3C3G2F2E♭2C2
10RenaissanceLute (Alto)GG4D4A3F3C3G2F2E♭2D2C2
10RenaissanceLute (Alto)GG4D4A3F3C3G2F2E♭2D2C2
10BaroqueLuteD MinorF4D4A3F3D3A2G2F2E2D2
11BaroqueLuteD MinorF4D4A3F3D3A2G2F2E2D2C2
12BaroqueLuteD MinorF4D4A3F3D3A2G2F2E2D2C2B1
13BaroqueLuteD MinorF4D4A3F3D3A2G2F2E2D2C2B1A1