Theorbo (The enormous 14 string lute)

hey everybody welcome back to the

channel I'm here with Brandon acre we

reached out to see if anyone had at the

or bow in Chicago and there is an expert

for us here so I'll probably start with

the unboxing footage it doesn't look

that different like there could be a

bass guitar in this are you open so oh

oh of course so that's why we have the

neck extension holy SH the coolest part

about when it's folded up these long

strings here they're folded around this

cylinder yeah and they there's the rap

tension still so they're in tune so you

just yeah so now you just unfold the

neck take this pin out put it here so

can't collapse on me Wow now so that's

the full instrument yeah is that is that

even a shot so we need to go even wider

it's really hard to get this thing in



it's beautiful yeah what is this thing

pure bow in English Theora bah or a

katana in Italian it's an Italian

invention invented around 1580 and

basically it's a member of the loot

family yeah so you know in Renaissance

the loot was kind of the guitar of its

day the bowl shaped instrument with the

same kind of shape it's smaller you see

it in paintings all the time yeah is

that what makes it a lute rather than

the guitars the the bowl shape on the

back that's one of the features that you

can use to determine oh that's so a

looked or look like instrument the lute

family is is vast because the lute had a

whole family of a little lute to big

lute if you think like violin viola

cello bass this is the base lute of the

family this part from here to here and

then so that was in the Renaissance and

the Baroque period comes around around

1600 this group in Florence got to get

together called the Florentine Camerata

and they said we want to invent this new

style of music novo music a this new

music and it was gonna be opera and we

need the perfect instrument to accompany

the voice and this is what they came up

with basically what we have is a lute on

this half and then they graft on this

giant neck extension to add seven or

eight more strings and now we can not

only play in this register but also


add that low contrabass what are we

gonna hear this is an H string - the

bass right so we have 8 pegs here

basically a base lute and so that's what

this is if I basically just fret this

happen how low does it go how's it tuned

so basically it's like actually like a

guitar yes half and then down the octave

E hey okay then we get to the long

portion which is jeans that's a G below

drop D okay so it's contrabass yeah is

this a situation where there isn't a

standard tuning for these normally this

reason I would say is up to the up to

the play on here play it depends on what

you're doing if you're playing in an

orchestra or for opera then you decide

what's the most useful notes that mm-hmm

I don't know if you're familiar with the

string material for for lutes but they

know they they use gut normally there's

actually sheep gut yeah so sheep

intestine and so that's what the strings

are made of are these actual gut strings

so the frets are actual guts and then

the rest of them are our guts and nylon

mixed together they're kind of synthetic

guns yeah if you see here actually on my

tenon strings

they're wound and that's not historical

these are wound because if you have a

gut string at this pitch it sounds a bit

more tubby but you need the length to

give it to clarify the pitch to give it

the punch but because of the windings it

also has a good punch to it but if you



it sounds a little bit different to that

fellow basis because it's so long I have

this really nice punchy bass range and

then I have this really delicate

upper register yeah my thumb is used to

play all of the contrabass notes the

diet paesan's we call them and then my

left hand only frets the actual first

seven strings how far does this go up

like does that go up to an octave I have

an octave yeah on top so it's there so I

can do so that's still very that yeah so

you don't need really more than 12 frets

because this is a bass instrument they

don't want it to go very high in the

first place in fact just when the

instrument is getting higher

there's the highest note it goes down

the octave and the reason for that is

because when they were making this

instrument bigger and bigger and bigger

they found out that the the thin gut

strings that you need to get those

pitches an octave higher kept breaking

so they just tuned them down the octave


but ended up working out in a really

beautiful way because then you have this

really mid contrabass range instruments

as a player you have to adjust what

you're used to because you know on a

guitar we used to kind of thinking you

roll the chord and it goes put over them

and strums low to high but on this one

to go low to high I have to do this

weird arpeggio where I go

at the end so there's a whole piece by

cats burger from 1604 where you use that



and then what I have here as well as my

F which is here is stopped and the short

neck but I have an option to make it a

long one and put it oh that's the other

one but F is the the first note that if

you're gonna change keys

you're gonna want an f-sharp first right

it's the first accidental so now I can

change it here without getting up I

might hear about the F was up there and

then sobs don't play concerts and I'd

have to get up and everybody you need

you need another assistant yeah but so

this is so cool cuz I finally have my F

and I can just raise it to F sharp and

keep playing also this this folding

thing that's not normal it's definitely

a historical these just need an enormous

case before this and I have yet on the

train as hell flying is the worst and

you don't have any fine tuners on the

other side it's exactly the friction

pegs that have never worked for me on

any you have to get really well fitted

pegs if the pegs are well fitted they're

great one of the coolest things about

this instrument the frets because

they're made of intestine just like the

strings were I tie them on myself yeah

and that means I can also move them so I

can slant them the tune just like a

sitar yeah is that really I didn't know

that do you find a use for that or to

you absolutely we live in the land of

equal temperament and that's what we

actually grow up hearing everything on

the radio is an equal temperament but

the weird thing is equal temperament is

out of tune yeah so all of these

instruments that have threats that are

seven equal temperament are they're

compromised so that they're actually

equally out of tune each note yeah come

to accept that as being right because

you can play in every key and it sounds


what they did with these old instruments

because you can tie on the frets as they

played in temperaments and what that

means is you can defy the octave

differently than twelve even notes and

you can favor certain chords by playing

this normal G major chord and

equal-tempered third

it sounds okay yeah but the third is

sharp so I can take this note here for

example if I'm playing a piece in G

major and I want that really nice B I

can just slant the fret down and now

I mean that sounds like a fourth

beautiful it's perfectly in tune that

was something that when I first started

recording with guitar just drove me

crazy and I didn't realize that there's

compromises on the fretboard so I would

be strumming especially a D chord I hate

the D chord yeah it's even not exactly

equal temperament so part of its sound

is that it's kind of attitude what you

do is you sort of you figure out I'm

playing for example a suite that's in

the key of G major so I'm going to tune

this low note to f-sharp and then I'm

gonna get my frets or we arranged that G

major sounds fantastic but a G sharp

major chord would sound awful and that

way I'm gonna sound so in tune so you

want to play this yes I do


hey everybody so well I'm trying to

figure out how to hold this instrument I

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online alright let's get back to fewer

Bowen so there you are looking down at

this is really intimidating you forget

everything you know right yeah there is

a guitar tuning buried in these strings

here you gotta find it so

this is a C and dismissal from there

that'd be your anchor and then you can

make a c-major okay there we are off

beautiful Wow

as soon as I take my hand off them

oh wow this is really confusing yeah so

if this is AG yeah okay okay

Ling is the topic where's the a here's

your lo a you're gonna play like this

with a restroom I'll be your face yeah

yeah you got the base okay one two three




that was brave to venture in I figured

you know yeah you got like seven out of

12 chance a bit than a note and key so I

figure I just go for it I'm super I'm so

turned around I'm not being


jeez it's like I go to all right here's

the cuz normally yeah normally it's like

I go further than I need to and then go

down but here I go further than I need

to I think I need to and I'm nowhere

near and like even earlier I needed to

mute the strings and I'm used to you

know even on an H string or a nine

string I could go but you're supposed to

play with like the fingers down with

your pinky down and because you're

picking off there's no key that gives

you reference to know how far the basis

rings yeah look at your right hand hold

on yeah so you have to memorize where

the pitches are and there's a distance

between your pinky and the phone yeah

yeah that's really hard I mean if I put

my pinkie down enough to where I know

it's not gonna be muting the string I

mean it's that much it's huge

yeah it's enormous people like me to

play his instruments our specialty is to

try to play this instruments like they

were yeah to get as close to the

Storyful authenticity as possible so we

read these old treatises and assembly

century and these paintings are saying

okay where they trying to get at and our

job is to figure out how to make make

the sound sound as close as possible

never doing

yeah this one second okay

I'm having a lot of trouble wrapping my

head around this it'll take a bit of



you just went forward god that was just

a gamble okay I'm gonna try this one



it's a really beautiful instrument it's

it's a lot to wrap your head head around

she takes one comment if you like I was

thinking I brought another instruments

yeah yeah we should C minor G minor C C

D minor hey okay I'm gonna play it slow


it's so just having one yeah just having

my entire life being a Secord I looked

at a high E and then I find the C and go

from there and just having it one string

off okay I'm gonna get it though



I mean it you just learned how to play a


tell Babu is essentially a cool and that

right there there's a thousand pieces

based on that I also love when you're

playing an instrument like this with so

many strings that are there to freely

vibrate as you get all these great

sounds out of you'll hit a note and then

you get the other piece of it yeah so if

you just think of these two i mean ii na

right yeah


it was sounding really good yeah I think

you're officially the third best year of

a flange punch do you want to try to

play this thing yeah yeah this is this

is more my speed when you have the this

range to just to have this ability to

have a low note


this hand is kind of like a left hand of

the piano and this is kind of the right

I've been playing mostly minor stuff but

in G major there's tons of things you

can do like


if you want a high note you have to go

way up here but then it sounds great

with the juxtaposition


you know that register the difference

between that contrabass range to the

treble is is huge so yeah it just has

this you know powerful deep warm sound

I'm sure I could do this for another

four hours so we do need to end the

video so you can subscribe if you like

I'm sure this in the last time we do

something like this in this channel also

brandon has a channel if you'd like to

check it out it's a bit of a risk after

the prep way