English Consort Viols

This is the instrument of the classic chest of viols of William Byrd, Michael East, and John Jenkins. My English viols are modelled mainly after John Rose, Henry Jaye, and Richard Meares. Made in the traditional English manner with tops bent like the staves of a barrel (instead of "digged out of the plank,") these instruments play in very quickly when new. Owners from beginners to professionals consistently report them "easy to play"--this is largely due to their manner of construction. This style of viol was greatly admired by the French players of the late seventeenth century, among them Marin Marais. For the intermittent player and for someone looking for an "all purpose" bass I recommend this instrument.

Each size comes in large and small format. The 40 cm trebles and 55 cm tenors are particularly popular. A full consort set of four or more instruments will benefit from a combination of large and small format viols to create the seamless English choir unique to the sixteenth century consort repertoire.

The bass is available in six and seven string format, in classic or festooned shape. The seven-string instrument, with an English bent-top and a virtuoso French-style neck is a historically valid Anglo-French hybrid. For those who seek a French-style solo instrument but have concerns about longer string length, these Anglo-French viols work successfully with a short stringlength.

To provide for the interpretation of the lyra repertoire, I make both a standard bass at 68 cm and a festooned bass at 70 cm with sympathetic strings.

Tenor Viol after Rose, London (1598).

Lyra Viol with sympathetic strings; adapted from an instrument by Henry Jaye, Southwarke (1610).

Bass after Meares(1677).

Treble after Hoskin (1609).