Alfred Brock 8-string terz lute 1934

Had a period about 5-10 years ago when I bought interesting old guitars, the more odd the better. Basically a market research, I was curious about how different details affected the sound. Swedish instrument history was also interesting and you can not get more Swedish than the "Swedish lute". Bought an Alfred Brock tilt dated 1934 at an auction, built a year before Alfred passed away. Alfred is one of the big names in this tradition, he provided Evert Taube with lute in the 1920s and was a Royal Court Instrument Maker. Brock modernized the "Swedish lute" which has a long tradition from the end of the 1700th century. He was the son of Nils Nilsson, a famous Swedish guitar builder around 1900. There is a lot of information about both the “Swedish lute” and Alfred Brock online.

This lute had number 875, according to Wikipedia he built a total of 892 lutes. The condition was good except that the bottom had cracked up considerably. It came in its original case. My idea was to repair it when it was purchased. Already then I had realized that extra bass strings are not for me, but this one had only two! It ended up in the store more like a curiosity. An interested customer wanted to buy it and I did the job, also had the opportunity to study it in detail.

To fix the bottom, it must first of all. It went well, but a complication was that the bottom continued as a "tie" on top of the curved neck block. With the help of my heat lamp that heats to about 70 degrees without damaging the paint, a thin spatula and some water, I got the bottom loose without damage. The ribs were almost completely loose and when the bottom shrank there was nothing that could hold up. The problem was that the glue-soaked cloth that reinforced the joint on the two-part bottom had not been cut off under the ribs. The skin glue becomes strong only if the two wooden surfaces have good contact with each other.

Squeezed the two halves together in a jig and glued the ribs. The ribs were narrow and high, about 7,5 mm x 21 mm. The lid and the bottom were very firmly raised and the stable plate in the maple was relatively thick. Screws through the stable down in the maple plate were unnecessary but functioning because they sat screwed in hard wood. A wooden screw had been screwed in through the neck pad into the neck foot.

The menstrual cycle was short, only 55 cm. Equivalent to the mensur on a Terz guitar, like a regular guitar but with a capo on the third band. The short menstrual cycle and the strong ribs as well as the ebony board meant that the neck was straight and the string height good despite stringing with fairly strong steel strings and steel strings as a base. Have ordered a set of "doubble bass" nylon strings (overgrown "baritone" nylon string guitar) which has three thick bass strings with which you can replace the rusty originals. Shipped it with original bass strings, the customer can assemble the new ones himself.

It seems to be a good craft, but maybe a little too high ribs for the best sound.

An interesting detail is the scalloping on the top straps, probably to facilitate thumb grip. For the sake of unusualness, this was a very serious original renovation, no attempt to make it sound better 😉


  1. Hi Roger,

    Nicely cooked! I myself have a lute created by Brock (1927 I think ..), with similar dry cracks. However, there are some cracks on the top of the resonant box as well. Can this page do anything about it? It can not be removed in the same way as the lid, can it?

    I also have a couple of extra tuning screws issued by Brock himself (signed by him). Do you think that these could be of interest to jewel collectors like you?


    • All cracks can be repaired, regardless of whether it is a lid or a bottom. Interesting tuning screws, but has basically stopped being a collector. Always interested, one not willing to pay collector's price long 😉

          • Hello again! I bought a similar one but without a bow in the sound hole. Tommy Jakobsson in Uppsala renovated it for me and it turned out great. Now I'm trying to find information on what dimension of steel strings it can handle. Do you know how I can find out? I put on a 013 set + bass strings and tuned it down to EADGBE. It was probably tuned higher due to its short scale length. But I would like to increase the string tension (is that what it's called?) to get a bit more tone in it, the sound is very soft right now and the strings feel a bit limp compared to a steel string guitar.

          • I get a little scared when I read your comment. The Brock lute is probably made for late strings in the original and is not the strongest construction. If it has a scale of approx. 57 cm, it is a third and must be tuned three semitones up (GCF Bb DG), in which case if you tune down three semitones there will be less tension and slacker strings. As a Terz in original condition and tuning, I wouldn't put on strings heavier than 0.10, as GammalGura it should hold up to regular 0.11 or 0.12 Newtone Heritage.

            If you have 0.13 strings on (something I would never even consider wearing on an old fragile guitar!) and think they are too soft, it feels risky, to say the least.

            I suggest you check the tension you get with regular 0.10 steel strings in third tuning, if the scale is like that, or regular tuning. Also check what medium tension nylon strings pull for the current time signature/tuning. Then you can try to match the same tension with a different tuning in a calculator with string thickness and meter/open string length. With too much tension you tear the lute.

            There are calculators online, e.g. this one:

  2. Hello Nicklas! Congratulations on purchase. Personally, I think that the Swedish leaning that was developed by the singer Sven Scholander (who, among other things, sang for the German emperor) and the instrument maker Brocks fits the male singing voice wonderfully. They developed it for steel strings, unlike the Bellmantide tilts on which it was based. I tune all mine in regular guitar tuning.
    E2 A2 D3 G3 H3 E4 . On my Brocks lute, as you can see in the picture, I have the upper one tuned in F# 1 and the lower one in G 1. Then they work a bit like bass accents at times. And are therefore quite loosely tensioned. The two extra strings in particular had a tendency to twist the fingerboard. The ones with 6 extra usually have a metal support. (type Evert Taube)
    Otherwise, I ALWAYS have the thinnest strings, like 0.10, which give a nice tone and low string pressure and are easy to press down if you use barre' accord.
    If you want a more modern slant, there is Crafton, which has adopted the shape from Brocks but also has an aluminum reinforced neck. (as Levin)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *