Most lutes have at least ten strings and some have as many as 20. The strings are normally grouped into pairs, called courses. A course may have 1 string or 2 strings close together. All the strings in a course are tuned to the same note, so they act as and are treated as a single string. In general, we talk about the number of courses a lute has, rather than the number of strings.
The lute uses strings made of sheep gut. These are similar in tone to the nylon strings used on a modern Classical Guitar, but go out of tune much quicker. A lute player will always retune at the start of every song, and sometimes in the middle of long songs. It has been said that a lute player who plays the lute for 80 years spends 60 of those years tuning up.
The lute has frets like a guitar, but they are gut rather than metal. The combination of gut strings, gut frets and the pear-shaped body gives the lute a very pleasant tone which is sharper and lighter than the classical guitar.
The normal tuning for a six-course lute is G2 C3 F3 A3Continued page 7/12