6 Course Cittern by "A. Rossi Urbino," 16th Century.
Current location unknown.

Last updated Sunday, April 02, 2023.
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General Description

This instrument was up for sale in the mid- to late-1990s. Its present whereabouts are currently unknown.

The instrument is carved from one piece, except for the soundboard and fingerboard. It appears very similar to the cittern currently in Bologna. The instrument is currently in very poor condition. There is a large hole in one side and the comb is missing.

Provenance / Maker

The words "A Rossi [da?] Urbino" and a date (possibly "1530" or "1550"?) are written on the neck near to the neck block and adjacent to the fingerboard. The word "URBINO" is also written on the peghead adjacent to the nut.


maximum length: 712 mm
string length: c. 420 mm
nut to fret 12: 210 mm
maximum width: 244 mm
maximum depth, at neck block: 64 mm
minimum(?)1 depth, at tail: 34 mm

width, maximum : 244 mm
rose diameter, inset: 80 mm

width, maximum: 214 mm
length: 280 mm

thickness (measured at a crack): c.1.5 mm
height at heel, including top and back: 43 mm
height at bottom, including top and back: 23 mm

width at nut: 48.5 mm
length of fingerboard, from nut to end: 291 mm


The soundboard is cracked in many places, and a section is missing on the lower right hand side of the soundboard. There is also a rather large hole in the right bottom/side of the instrument below the missing piece of soundboard.

The soundboard is decorated with a single line of black around the outside edge and a circle of 2 lines of black around the rose, though these all appear to have been penned onto the surface of the soundboard rather than having been set-in with actual wood purfling. There is also a dark line (mastic?) around the rose where the rose was set in to the soundboard.

While the hole in the side of the instrument resulted in the loss of the string holder, it does permit a view inside the instrument. From this view it is possible to see the presence of a diagonal treble bar, much like the one in cittern 10/1 in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The rose is inset. It is carved from wood and does not appear to be backed by parchment, though it is backed by seven small bars, much as are lute rosettes. The design is unusual in that it appears to be neither exactly gothic or arabesque and resembles, rather, interwoven ropes. (See detail of the soundboard image, above.)
After the carved tradition, the instrument has a traditional pegblock rather than a pegbox. The finial (or head?) appears to be missing. Part of the "hook" on the back of the pegblock may also be missing. Two of the ten pegs are inserted laterally on the bass side of the instrument.
Of the current pegs, seven of the pegs may be original and two are replacements. Three pegs are currently lost; two of them appear to be broken off inside the pegholes. (See detail of pegblock, above.)
Neck and Fingerboard

As mentioned earlier, the side of the neck has a signature and what may be a date. It appears to read "A. Rossi da Urbino" followed by either the date "1530" or "1550," (see image under Provenance/Maker, above) but this has not yet been confirmed.


The fretting appears originally to have been diatonic, but some work appears to have been done to convert the instrument to a chromatic fretting for the upper four(?) courses only, including a partial 18th fret (covering the top course only?).

The original fret "wedges" appear to be of ebony; the later ones are some type of light-colored wood. The frets themselves appear to be made from a silver-colored metal as opposed to brass.

An additional interesting feature is the inscription on the fingerboard of the numbers 1 through 10 for the first ten frets and the letters A through I for frets eleven through nineteen.2 If some of the fretting is indeed later work, then the labeling of the frets may have come at a later date.

The layout for the strings at the nut is currently a 6x2 configuration (see image under Provenance/Maker, above).
String Holder
No string holder is currently on the instrument. The large hole both in and adjacent to the area of the string holder and the fact that the instrument is carved suggest that a comb was once there.
  1. It is unclear from the measurements whether the distance is vertical (i.e. minimum height) or angled (i.e. the distance from the edge of the soundboard to the edge of the back). [back]

  2. For another instrument with a similar but not identical labeling of the frets, see cittern D.32026. [back]

How to cite this page: Hartig, Andrew. "6 Course Cittern by 'A. Rossi Urbino,' 16th Century." Renovata Cythara: The Renaissance Cittern Site. Ed. Andrew Hartig. 02 April 2023. 16 July 2024. <http://www.cittern.theaterofmusic.com/rossi.html>.

All site contents, unless otherwise stated, are copyright © Andrew M. Hartig, 1999-2023. All rights reserved.