CHAPTER 3: History to 1800 > Later Renaissance - 16th century

Surviving instruments

The surviving specimens are a somewhat dubious quantity: the catalogue entry for one (Smithsonian Institution) proclaims rather sceptically that its date is 'claimed 1500', whilst another is missing altogether from its museum (Skara Fornmuseum, Sweden) or else preserved so carefully as to be unlocatable.

The Smithsonian example, if authentically dated, precedes the instrument which Dr. van der Meer considers the oldest, that of 1514 in the Heyer collection now at Leipzig. The latter has a different bridging arrangement from the other two, being type 12.2 rather than 11.2, i.e. it has two bass bridges. The second of these is a little 'foot' bridge carrying just one long bass course, perhaps for the root note of one of the-basic chords. This is comparable with the practice of having fewer strings on the lowest bass course, first noted in the Evora instrument, but not standard as early as the 16th century.