Near the start of the movie The Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960), Alan A'Dale plays a strange looking instrument. It is roughly 5 minutes into the movie. It looks like a lute but it has an L shape on the neck with a lot more strings and no second neck. I've never seen anything like that before.

Is that a real instrument and what is it called?

What do you do with the strings in the section with no neck? Are they just plucked?


It's just "a lute". The number of bass strings that were not fretted varied from from 1 or 2 up to 10 or more. The advantage of more strings was not only more bass notes, but also to save the hassle of continually retuning the bass strings to match the key of the music being played.

Originally, the bass strings were made from twisted gut soaked in chemicals to deposit metal into the strings, increase their mass, and get a lower pitch, so they were much too "heavy gauge" to be fretted anyway. Sometimes the bass strings were longer than the fretted strings, resulting in a peg box that was longer than the fretboard!

See https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1c/Deutsches_Museum_%28121282543%29.jpg for a few examples.


Sounds like a Swedish Lute to me.

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