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Name of Instrument: guitar

Maker / Brand: Andreas Ott

Stearns Catalog #: 1089

Country of Origin: Prag. Bohemia

Region of Origin: Europe

Instrument Category: Chordophone

Date of Fabrication: 1659

Description: This six-string guitar was crafted in 1659 by Andreas Ott, a luthier in Prague—yet, Ott would not identify it as identical to the one he created. The modifications to this instrument reflect the evolution of the guitar type itself. A careful investigation reveals the presence of four addition pegholes leading to the conclusion that the original guitar featured ten strings in five double courses. This fine example—which includes inlaid ivory with paintings of cityscapes and a heavily decorated soundhole—is the oldest European guitar in the Stearns Collection. The Prague National Museum has a small violin, a fine guitar, and several cut-down violas made by Ott.

This instrument has a spruce table with a circular sound hole that has a four-layer “wedding cake” rosette. The sides have seven flat rosewood ribs separated by ebony strips; the arched back has fluted rosewood ribs (twenty-one at its widest point). The back of the neck is impeccably veneered with a checkerboard design of ivory-rosewood squares (each 3 mm square). The fingerboard has twelve frets—ten are ivory and two are ebony. The solid rosewood pegboard is angled back slightly and has six hand-carved, mismatched boxwood pegs that enter from the back (originally ten pegs).

Research: Dr. Bruce Mitchell Smith and Stearns Staff

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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower