Five-course guitar

(1596 1639) - Juan Carlos Amat, Guitarra española y vandola... Barcelona, 1596 etc.
instrument: guitarra | century: 16cent/3/late | catalogue nº: 17-207

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Creator Amat, Juan Carlos

Medium Artwork: Woodcut


City Barcelona | Region Catalonia | Old kingdom Aragon

Body Waisted Strings Neck Long Pegbox Angled flat
Bridge Fixed Frets Yes Back Flat Pegs
Technique Plucked fingers thumb out

The earliest treatise on playing the 5-course guitar, an instrument described by the book’s author as being of five courses: 1st - single; 2nd & 3rd courses = unison; 4th and 5th courses = octaves. The book appears first to have been published in 1596, although there has been some confusion about this and the suggestion that the first edition dates from 1586. No copies of the first edition are extant, and it is the preface of one of the later editions that suggests the original date of 1586. This is highly improbably, however, as Amat was only born in 1572. The book was reprinted many times until the early nineteenth century. Early editions have no illustration. Later editions include a female figure playing the guitar on the title page, the earliest of these appears to be from 1636, but the earliest that I have been able to confirm is from 1701. It is the illustration shown here.

The most complete list of editions is that compiled by Gary Boye.

This woodcut on the title page is supposedly a 5-course guitar although depicted with 6 single strings, a single rosette in the centre, a fixed bridge close to bottom, and flat pegbox.