The many surviving documents and pictures, especially from the 16th and 17th centuries, suggest a widespread existence of the lute and similar instruments at that time. However, if one were to count the all the instruments which have survived the test of time, the number would amount to little more than 500 examples. One reason for this incongruity among others is the fragile nature of original lutes. They tended to get damaged or destroyed far more easily than other instruments. The lute makers of the time tried to create the best sound possible by constructing lutes from thin, delicate materials, an approach which most modern lute makers also take. For this reason, lutes are glued together with animal glues and often finished with traditional oil or spirit-based varnishes, with all their advantages and disadvantages. If one wants a lute to last a long time, there are some basic principles regarding maintenance and care one should bear in mind. These principles can naturally be applied to other instruments, too. Adhere to these principles and you will hopefully avoid subsequent problems.