Advice‎ > ‎

Intonation

Few things sound as sweet as a lute played perfectly in tune.  And a lute played out of tune definitely does not sound sweet.
The simplest way to improve the sound of your playing, if you haven't done so already is to ensure that your lute is perfectly in tune. For the lute this means that your strings are true and in tune, and your frets are correctly placed. To achieve this, I strongly recommend that you get use electronic tuner.

Strings

If your instrument has old dead strings on it, replace them. The will never sound any better, and most likely will not help your tuning either.

Tuners

I recommend you get a chromatic tuner that can be used with a plug in mic clip, and that you purchase the clip too. I've given approximate prices at the time of writing.  Don't skimp on a good tuner, you do get that you pay for.
 Make Model Description £ approx
 Korg OT-120 Chromatic, multi temperament tuner £89
 Korg TM-40 Chromatic tuner plus metronome. Equal temperament only. £23
 Korg CA-40 Cheap chromatic tuner. Equal temperament only. £12
 Peterson StroboClip Clip on tuner (can do 1/6 comma meantone) £70

Frets

After tuning your strings as accurately as possible with your tuner, it's time to tune your frets. This is done by checking stopped notes with your tuner. Before you check each fret, quickly check that your open strings are still correctly in tune.  If you're using a non-equal temperament, you may need to make some compromises on fret position.  Bear in mind the notes you're actually going to be playing, as it will influence your decisions about your fret placement.

Temperament

Having moveable frets on the lute opens up the possibility of playing in different temperaments. Playing in a historical temperament such as 1/6 or 1/4 comma meantone will give you a totally different musical experience, and make your lute sound sweeter and more powerful.  To learn more about termperament, please check out "How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and Why You Should Care)" by Ross W. Duffin, which traces the history of temperament and the effect that it has on music. For a brief overview, please take a look at this (admittedly rather technical) Wikipedia article.
Comments