Gaspar Sanz and the Stringing of the Italian Baroque Guitar Masters – Samuel Zachary Vierra

Samuel Zachary Vierra

The following research is an investigation of the baroque guitar stringing used by Spanish composer Gaspar Sanz and many of his Italian contemporaries. In contrast to previous scholarship centered on baroque guitar stringing, this paper attempts to clarify the problems inherently associated with ambiguous terminology, incorrect stringing designations, and the currently accepted baroque stringing options. The confusion and disagreement amongst modern scholars about what Sanz wrote regarding the subject of stringing has severely hindered subsequent related scholarship. As a result, it was absolutely necessary for the following research to include a historical background on Sanz, as well as his commentary on this subject, which has been translated, cautiously dissected, and explained.

Additionally, this paper offers a direct challenge to the specious claim of many notable scholars that Sanz used the totally re-entrant stringing for the creation of his compositions. It was my sole intention to make this the most exhaustive research supporting the employment of upper octaves to date. This research also contains my newly proposed baroque guitar stringing options. Comparative transcriptions of original tablature from several composers including Sanz, Corbetta, Colista, Kapsperger, Granata, and Murcia have been included in order to add visual clarification of the results produced by different re-entrant stringings.

Several other related issues are discussed including an examination of the original definitions of gut string names, the guitar’s close development and association with the lute and chitarrone, and a closer look at the 17th century usage of the term “unison.” Also proposed is a new right-hand technique whereby the guitar is approached as a nine (or ten) -string instrument. As part of the conclusion, I have also offered my personal instrumental set-up, showing both my current guitar’s string spacing at the nut and bridge, along with the string type and diameters that I consider a suitable compromise for performance on a modern baroque guitar replica.

Vierra, S. Z. (2015). Gaspar Sanz and the Stringing of the Italian Baroque Guitar Masters. UCLA. ProQuest ID: Vierra_ucla_0031D_14169. Merritt ID: ark:/13030/m5j70mjc. Retrieved from

Gaspar Sanz and the Stringing of the Italian Baroque Guitar Masters


This entry was posted in Acoustic and tuning, Historical research, THE SPANISH GUITAR. Bookmark the permalink.

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