Custom-Built Musical Instruments at Very Reasonable Rates
Instruments of Antiquity

What can we
create for you?

(Links lead to detailed pages with larger photos and more information...)



  Cantigas style
Warwick style



  Bardic/Lap Harps:
    Gut Strung
    Celtic Wire Strung
  Floor Harps:
    (more to come)

  5 string
  5 string Piccolo
  9 string
  Performance set

  Sutton Hoo
  Mosning Thorpe
  Bergh Apton
  Student Model
Bowed Lyres:

  Pig Nose
  Cantigas style


    Myrna Hammered Dulcimer

Non-authentic, but imitative of the sound of the original instrument



Warwick Citole
Example of one of my warwick citoles

The Guitar family is one of the longest continuous instrument families in existence.  Many modern instrument families were designed around form and function of older instruments, but were not even close to being mechanically the same instrument as their predecessors.  This is well shown in the Viol family, which developed to replace the handheld bowed Rebecs, but which are so technically dissimilar from their predecessor as to be a completely seperate family.

The Guitar developed by small steps, improvements through instruments that have different names but are technically very similar.  As luthiers gained knowledge of controlling warping in longer necks, those longer necks, and thus longer scale lengths and more possible notes to play, became common.  As rib-bending and built-up construction replaced hollowed out one piece soundboxes, the instrument evolved to make use of these processes, but was not technically redesigned, just updated. 

While there were many smaller branches in the Guitar family, the larger branches were the Citole, the Cittern, the Gittern, and the Guitar.  Even expert musical historians have troubles assigning the labels to any given instrument, but many believe this lineage occurred in this order.  The citole had many stringing patterns and tunings, like today's guitar.  It was built with arched, carved, or flat tops, like today's guitar.  It had single or double courses of strings.  There were as many variants as their were situations to play in.  Many place these instruments in the lute family, with the mandolin, but most of these instruments were not the featherweight wire strung styles that led to the modern mandolin, although comparing only by size it would be tempting to place these instruments in with the Lute, Oud and Manodlin.

The unique thumbslot neck was a common feature on many citoles with longer necks, as this provided resistance to bending and warping but still allowed the player to play on a thin and responsive neck and fretboard.

The Warwick Castle Citole is the single remaining instrument of its time and type left for us to study, although it does not exist as a citole anymore.  The instrument was originally built in the 14th century, but is was converted into a carved top violin in the 16th century and presented by Queen Elizabeth 1 to the Earl of Leicester as a gift.  The modifications cover much of the original design and functional elements, but the one-piece body and neck are largely intact.  I designed this instrument specifically for a mandolin player, and extended the neck by 50% so that much of the repretoire could be played. 

This compact instrument accompanied many bards and troubadors as they made their livelihood for hundreds of years in Western Europe.  It may just be the key to discovering your inner minstrel.  Contact us to see what we can create for you.

For more information or to place an order, contact:

Chris Nogy, founder and craftsman
Phone: 479-283-6364 
  Please call between 9 AM and 7 PM U.S. Central Time  (-6 GMT)

copyright  (c) 2011