Extended neck instruments emerged in Italy around 1600 as musicians sought increased the lute’s bass range further in order to better accompany singers. Tuned in standard renaissance G, the archlute carries 8 bass stings affixed to an extended neck. The archlute was used extensively in continuo roles and also has a good quantity of solo repertoire by Italian composers like Picininni, Scarlatti, and Zamboni. Magno Tieffenpruchar’s C45 is a wonderful specimen for the modern player although many varieties and alternatives are available.
Based on a liuto attiorbato by the Venetian master Matteo Sellas in 1636, this archlute has a stopped string length of 61 cm with 91 cm double course diapasons. It is constructed of 15 alternating ribs of light and dark hardwoods (ebony and holly being the favored option). Useful for solo and continuo purposes in early 17th century Italian music, these compact archlutes are easily portable and avoid some of the ergonomic stresses of the longer archlutes.