Wood and color characteristics
The LLD® Hagen 13c Baroque lute bowl is made with ribbon striped sapelli, a dense tone-wood with a very distinctive striped grain featuring a very attractive ribbon figure that runs parallel to the grain. Ribbon striped sapelli is a quite hard wood but still easy to carve.
The very dark reddish brown natural color of our ribbon striped sapelli wood, covered by a thin coat of transparent oil varnish, makes our LLD® lutes look very similar to the historical lutes of famous 16th century lute maker Laux Mahler. Indeed, he was famous for his very dark reddish brown oil varnish that until today no luthier has been able to reproduce. We believe that our choice of ribbon striped sapelli is aesthetically the closest we can get to the varnish color of Laux Mahler lutes.
It has subtle yet complex overtones, overall warm sounding tone, strong mid-range and deep full bass. Both flamed maple and ribbon striped sapelli tend to be warm-bright, but sapelli would have a bit brighter treble and deeper bass than maple.
The sound of ribbon striped sapelli exhibits a powerful midrange, great punch, warm and dense trebles, while retaining a very good level of warmth in the lower ends and lower mids. In comparison, flamed maple is a tonewood that improves in richness and complexity over time with playing.
Ribbon striped sapelli is a fast growing and highly sustainable exotic wood which is protected from over harvesting making it a fabulous choice for the environmentally aware.
Ribbon striped sapelli or flamed maple?
Ribbon striped sapelli is an harder wood then flamed maple. Both tend to be direct, bright and warm at the same time, but ribbon striped sapelli exhibits warmer treble presence and deeper basses than flamed maple – that will be the main sound difference among this two woods.
Flamed maple as a very direct but warm sound, and has fewer overtones or complexity then ribbon striped sapelli. What you hear initially with flamed maple, is what you get.
The sound the lute projects at the attack is still the same sound you will hear as the note decays. Flamed maple is a wood that has to sampled with age to be fully appreciated.
Ribbon striped sapelli sound will be a little less direct than maple, with more overtones, and adds a bit more complexity to the sound of the lute overall.
Spruce is the most common tone wood used for the soundboard of the European lute family instruments. LLD® uses only high grade and excellent quality solid spruce soundboards on the construction of its lutes.
The top, or soundboard, as the name suggests, bears great influence on the way a lute sounds, though the back also is a key component. The top seems to affect the lute's responsiveness, its sustain and even some of its overtone coloration and quality of each note’s fundamental tone. Taking in consideration the differences of the flamed maple wood (which develops more the fundamentals of the sound) and the ribbon striped sapelli (which develops more the overtones) we have chose two different sorts of spruce in order to equilibrate those specificities.
The LLD® high grade wide grain spruce used with the ribbon striped sapelli lutes is a high grade well-rounded tonewood, with less stiffness and greater lightness. It translates to stronger overtones and weaker fundamentals.
All our LLD® lutes are carefully inspected in Paris before shipment to the customer by a professional, conservatory-trained lutenist and adjusted as necessary by a luthier in Paris specializing in making, restoring and repairing historical and modern professional quality lutes.
Our instruments are precisely designed and then adjusted to assure proper scooping of the top and height of the nut and the bridge to provide optimal action of the strings.