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   This instrument is considered one of the earliest guitars known to have survived. The decoration is relatively spare overall, and the weight is heavy for a guitar of this size, but the workmanship is clearly that of an experienced craftsman. It might, in fact, have come from the same workshop as a much smaller guitar dated 1581, made by the Lisbon luthier Belchior Dias. By constructing the back from eight separate staves of wood, the maker was able to use pieces of a dark tropical wood (possibly rosewood) that would have been difficult to obtain in wider strips. Separating the staves with thin fillets of ivory creates an attractive graphic pattern. Like many early string instruments, this guitar has undergone considerable modification and repair during its history. The neck was re-lengthened and the entire top replaced in the twentieth century, but the geometric rose of laminated parchment is said to be original. Even with such drastic changes, this important instrument provides rare clues about the early features of guitar design.



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