The vihuela and its music has always been a favorite of mine, since first time in high school heard Segovia LP's with Milan and Narvaez pieces. I sought out a lute maker in themid 1990\s to helpme make a vihuela and he gave me the measurements of a Klaus Jabcobsen vihuela that was circulating around the San Francisco bay area and I built to those measurements. It was wide and thin and I used Cypress for the back and sides. It turned out ok for a first go and it was really exciting to see it through. The lute maker is still one of my best buddies and a former teacher.
I forgot about this post, I made this instrument as a test for the humidity control in my shop in Japan. It sounded ok, not big, not complete,but ok. I sold it to my best friend from Jr. high school, he can't really play it to any degree but he enjoys having it around. He loves early music.
Not too long after I made my first vihuela on the Jacobsen model a Stephen Barber Chambure model came to town as a friend in Berkeley CA bought it from Barber. I think it was the first of second of the Chambure copies he made,pretty sure. The top was fairly thick and it sounded a bit thuddy. Eventually the sound bloomed out after it had been under tension for a few months and it sounded really gutsy and full.
The Chambure was a really cool thing to see in person soon after it had been copied, previous to that the most cool vihuela I had seen was a Dan Larson owned by a different player in Berkeley. The two guys knew each other, and one of them is a pro player. They used to have a lot to say about stringing and string selection. Whether or not to string octave courses in the basses or unison basses was the main issue they went back and forth on.
The unison courses in th e bass seems really authentic, a good case can be made for that being the way to string the vihuela, but octave basses also sound good and it depends on the particular instrument and what best suits it. After hearing these guys, who are pretty savvy players respectively, hash out the ideas about stringing I decided if I build more tied gut fretted instruments I would let the player/buyer sort out the stringing for themselves unless they had a specific string arrangement brand in mind.
Now I've kind if changed my mind a bit on that score and if I ever make another vihuela I'll set it up with unison basses in gut and let the player go for there. It's tempting to mount another vihuela project, but for me they are not really my main thing. A few years after a made the first one a kind of vihuela mania set in,it became every popular by the mid 2000's and many more makers tried to build vihuelas, and made good ones. I took a different route, but I still listen to vihuela music on vihuela while I work. I think it is an instrument with unique sound and although it does not project like a modern guitar it has I think a lot of potential for composers to write contemporary music for it in addition to the literature from old Spain and Italy.
Patience at the bending iron pays in rounded dividends!