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Cittern

CitternThe Cittern evolved from a plucked Lute-like Instrument called the Citole - played by French Troubadours in the 13th Century. The Citole had a flat pear-shaped body with a short neck and was made from a single piece of wood (making it cheaper to produce than a Lute) and had three strings.

In the 15th Century the Citole gained a Bridge, Frets, an extra string and the Strings were doubled to Courses.

In the 16th and 17th Centuries, the Cittern as it had become was seen in a bewildering array of styles with 4 to 12 courses some of which were tripled. It fell out of favour and was commonly seen hanging in barber's shops as an amusement for customers.

Now seeing a revival, even if it is as the name for a 5-course Mandola. Modern Citterns do not usually follow the construction of the Cittern (carved from the solid) but use the Lute construction techniques that are used to make the Guitar, Mandolin, Mandola, Bouzouki etc.

A Moon Cittern is 5 course, 597mm Scale otherwise similar in construction to a Mandola. The Sobell Cittern is unashamedly advertised as a 5 course Octave Mandolin. Paul Hathway makes some convincing early instruments including a 4 course and a 6 course Cittern.