Arthur Robb
0044 (0)7984-892570

English guittars

English guittar English guittar English guittar

English guittars were popular in 18th century British Isles and North America. They are wire strung and are a type of cittern. Using the two 't's in guittar helps differentiate them from guitars. They often have 10 strings and are tuned to an open chord. Capos were used to help change key.

In most of Europe the six string guitar was the popular instrument. In the British Isles and North America the English guittar was played. Soon after 1800, the early six string classical guitar dominated.

Early versions of the English guittar used wooden pegs for tuning. Low tension, short wire strings are very difficult to tune and a mechanical watch key method of tuning was invented. I believe the earliest known watch key mechanism is on the 1758 Hoffman. The watch key mechanism is usually attributed to John Preston of London. Guittars made in Dublin by Gibson often have a tuning mechanism similar to modern guitars.

Some information about English guitars:

The English guittar and Thomas Jefferson,
English guittars in University of Edinburgh Collection of Historic Musical Instruments
Downloadable PDF of Poulopoulos's excellent 'The Guittar in the British Isles, 1750-1810'

Five English guittars have been restored in my workshop and a sixth, by Preston, has just begun. Click on the links below to see each restoration.