The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

❌SOLD❌ Edward Light English Guitar Pre-Romantic Era Black, 1790s


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From time to time unusual instruments arrive here, like this English Guitar from the Pre-Romantic Era, likely built by Edward Light as a transition instrument in London,  England around 1790.

The term ‘English Guitar’ usually refers to an instrument like a cittern, but that instrument usually has four or five double courses. That closest instrument in modern use is the Irish Bouzouki. This interesting example also has a rounded back, similar to a Lute, but here the back is a section of a truncated cone, likely built by bending two larger piece of wood for the sides, joined to one flat centerpiece. Lutes, on the other hand, use a series of individual ribs to form the bowl. And, lutes have more courses than guitars.

This English Guitar seems to be blending these influences as part of the progression towards the 1820s when the guitar as we know it became fairly standardized.

We’ve never seen an instrument quite like this English Guitar, and image searches have not been fruitful. It is finished in black outside and on the inside of the bowl, but not the top; the top appears to be Spruce and the bent sides, back, bridge and neck appear to be Maple. The frets are small bars of metal, a design used as late as the 1920s. The tuning pins are similar to those used on a Zither, and require use of the small wrench conveniently attached to the head by a leather thong.

The appearance of the top is definitely dramatic, with gold-coloured designs around the body. The top also receives floral and vine imagery all round. Between the bridge and soundhole, there is an image of a drum with garlands, and below the bridge, an image of brass instruments also with garlands.

The soundhole rose on this Edward Light English Guitar is very special like other instruments from this maker, and its design looks influenced by a Monstrance, Catholic or Anglican – they are fairly similar. (A Monstrance is kept on the altar in some Christian churches, and contains the Host for display during mass). It is a separate piece from the top, carved and cut to simulate rays emanating from a central circle with cross.   It could, alternately, be influenced by a British Orders cross, as found on a number of medals and decorations including that of the Order of the Garter.  

This English Guitar by Edward Light is fully playable and is certainly unique. If you have more information about this instrument, we welcome your comments.

Sold without case.


Price: $1,499.99 CAD
  • Model: Guitar
  • Year: 1792 | Approximate year
  • Finish Black with Gold Leaf
  • Class: Vintage
  • Serial Number: N/A
  • Country of Origin: England
  • Condition: Good
  • Date Posted: 21/05/2020

  • This instrument has been sold
  • Consignment Item

  • Instrument Weight: 1.963lbs .88kg
  • Scale Length: 18.62in 473mm
  • Nut Width: 1.84in 46.25mm

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