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The story of the development of the modern 10 string begs to be told. Although not a new concept, the 10 string guitar came to prominence in the 60’s due to the collaborative efforts of maestro Narciso Yepes and the famous luthier Jose Ramirez 111.

Prior to this 10 string instruments have had a relatively checkered past. The prime motivation historically it seems was to add extra strings to enable an extended bass range. For decades, guitarists and luthiers wanted something “more” and somehow simply adding strings did not always come up to expectations. The inconsistency of sustain on a traditional 6 string worried Narciso Yepes who too wanted that "something more" out of the guitar. He postulated that the problem lay in the weak resonances or overtones on the majority of notes on the guitar. Was there a solution?

Ramirez in his own words had ‘an obsession with achieving an enriched sound' and turned to the viola d'amore which was renowned to have a particularly ‘sweet and warm sound' with its separate set of sympathetic strings located below the bowed strings and fingerboard. He faced a quandary trying to figure out a simple way to dampen the separate sympathetic strings when not required and maintaining a guitar type sound with an appropriate tuning system. He considered all sorts of ‘contrivances' using the concepts associated with the viola d'amore - pedals, levers and dampers. All probably too complicated. Ramirez consulted initially with Segovia with his unusual ideas and although he was encouraging, it was after consulting Yepes who had been pondering his own quandary of how to improve the sound of a 6 string guitar, that the two men it seems got together. Although they were approaching things from different angles, the common desire for a better sounding guitar meant  a match it seems was made and the two men became “partners”.  After a concert one evening Yepes phoned Ramirez excitedly - I have an idea and its simple… all we need is another 4 strings tuned sympathetically. He apparently then immediately commissioned a prototype from Ramirez after this Eureka moment.

It suffices to quote the words of Jose Ramirez after he made his 1st prototype for Yepes to try out:
At a private meeting, I turned over this guitar to Yepes, who began to try it out by playing a piece. He resembled a 1st year student
or even worse. After some time, he looked skyward. I feared he was going to release a string of insults, but he didn’t.
What he said was this: “What a marvellous mess I have gotten myself into”.

Yepes apparently gave a concert in Barcelona on the 10 string prototype soon after. The rest as they say is history and resulted in a new exciting guitar and system of tuning - The "Yepes" or "Modern" tuning.  The new instrument and tuning system had its critics and skeptics initially but soon the remarkable playing and sound that characterised Maestro Yepes's illustrious career won over the crowds. The luthier working in Ramirez's luthiery at the time charged with the responsibility of constructing the first 10 string guitars was Paulino Bernabe. Later when he became an independent luthier in his own right he continued making and improving the 10 string guitar under his own label. Sadly none of these 3 men are with us anymore but their pioneering work lives on and evolves in the new generation of 10 string guitars now available..

In the last 20 years or so, buoyed by the success of the original Yepes revelation various players have experimented with the older multi string tuning of the harp guitar and decacorde and thus an alternative tuning has evolved commonly referred to as 10 string "Baroque" or "Romantic" tuning.  Janet Marlow has also postulated modified tuning systems in line with Yepes's practice of occasionally modifying his core schema (eg re-tuning the 7th string to A, B or D and some of the other strings as well) to accommodate specific works and transcriptions. Most of these "other" tuning systems are often specific to particular styles and compositions but in comparison are probably inferior but interesting alternatives to the fundamental Yepes tuning schema which is broadly relevant over the Renaissance, Baroque. Classical, Romantic and even 20th Century repertoires.

Players, composers and listeners have been truly blessed with the legacy these guitar innovators have given us. The 10 string guitar has come of age. You can tune it simply as many have done in the past such as Carulli and Mertz and use it is an extended range guitar (Baroque or Romantic tuning) where the extra bass strings are used primarily as melodic open accompaniment. However, if you really want to explore a new palette of sound and timbre try the Modern or Yepes tuning which is a whole new exciting level. In Yepes's words, "You have now entered a room with many doors."


Laudarra offers five 10 string models:

Cathedral Inexpensive entry level. Mahogany back & sides, solid cedar tops optional cutaway and electronics.
Bartolex Student level. Cedar or spruce tops, laminated rosewood back / sides options for cutaway, soundport, fan fret & Fischmann dual blend electronic pickups options.
Milagro Cedar or spruce top, solid rosewood back / sides. Exotic wood options and appointments for the Master 10 string model.
Concert level Australian made specifically commissioned by Laudarra supporting our superb Australian luthiers. Cedar top, solid rosewood back / sides, Alessi tuning machines with mother of pearl in-lay.
Frignani Laudarra Guitars represents Master Luthier Lorenzo Frignani and can assist in the commissioning of a fine Italian 10 or 11 string guitar fan or conventional frets.
MILAGRO BARTOLEX LITCHFIELD FRIGNANI Multi String Guitars. ALESSI tuning machines PETERSON tuners. Delivery Worldwide.