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Archlute Restoration Sequence--page 2

The effect of the tension of not only the original array of strings, but of the additional strings on the added theorbo neck extension caused the lute shell to distort, stretching it into a new (more or less permanent) configuration. Another distortion of the shell was evident, one which left the plane of the soundboard angled in relation to the plane of the neck. To compensate for both distortions, Harry clamps the neck onto a flat board and with a moveable "marking gauge" marks the perimeter of a new rim on the shell which will be flat and level to the neck.
The marked-off portion has been laboriously and precisely trimmed off, and can be seen at the lower left of the photo. Note that it is not symmetrical, due to the fact, noted above, that the neck and shell were not on a level (twisted by the asymmetrical string forces imposed by the theorboed neck, perhaps?) The neck and shell now sit comfortably flat on a particle-board workboard made especially for the project.


Coincidental with the above, Harry has been re-bracing the soundboard (I'm revealing my guitarmaking orientation--we call it the "top" or "soundboard", I believe the lutemakers call it the "belly" or "table"). The brace bars are select, vertical grain spruce. The originals which had failed were flat or horizontal grain--the weaker grain orientation. Our speculation is that the maker who replaced the top had simply used materials at hand, with less stock on hand to select from.
We've re-braced the top to follow not the questionable pattern on the original (replaced) top, but one truer to the period, as specified in the FoMRHI Journal, the Lute Society, and the Lute Society of America.
The 1/16-inch perimeter of the rim of the lute shell presents an inadequate gluing surface for the top. Thus an interior lining strip is applied with glue to the edge after being heat-bent  (the original linings had been largely trimmed away, so a new set of linings were required, seen here being glued on with rows of spring clamps).
Here is the instrument after the top has been glued to the ribs (it was wrapped face down to the workboard with rubber strapping while the glued dried.
The rebuilt neck/pegbox/theorbo extension is epoxied on and the trick process of recarving the transitions commences. The transitional block is harder wood than the neck or pegbox, making the fairing all the more difficult.
Here the transition has been completed on the undersurface of the neck. Two smaller transition block are also shaped and inserted into voids right under the nut seat, which had previously been left out during the original theorboing procedure.
The transition piece is ramped to allow the strings to drop into the pegbox. Note that a strip of carbon fiber has been sandwiched in for good measure (just seen emerging under the fingerboard). Also note the two "cheek" flaps that extend from the new transition block into the pegbox walls to further reinforce this crucially stressed area. New peg holes must be accurately drilled and reamed to fit the pegs which will enter nearest the nut.
The neck, pegbox and transition area are treated to several coats of black lacquer and thus all the elaborate repair work is effectively hidden from view.
A brand new fabric edging strip is glued, the masking tape strip keeps the glue squeezeout from smudging the unfinished top.
The seemingly endless task of setting up the instrument begins. All things taken into consideration, We're not unhappy these instruments are so rare nowadays.
The instrument's owner, Marlboro College prof Stan Sharkey, is called and appears. He has followed the repair process above and so has been privy to precisely what he will be paying for. Harry relaxes after several weeks of intense, concentrated work while Sharkey tunes the apparatus.
"It works!" He exclaims several times. He notes and approves of its transformed sound, commenting that it notably has added power in the bottom range. It is an appraisal that is in itself most gratifying to our ears, indeed.