Does the Liuto forte sound like an historical Lute with single strings?
Anyone simply removing a string from each of the courses on an historical lute is in for a disappointing revelation of what sound remains. Single strings require a considerably higher tension, even on ancient lutes like the theorbo, chitarrone or archlute. The sound of these instruments is bright and penetrating, certainly when played with fingernails, which is eminently suited to continuo playing. Up close it has a “raw and rough” effect, as Sylvius Leopold Weiss remarks in a letter to Johann Mattheson.1 Limited by the belly construction of the historical lute, they lack both warmth and sustain – indispensable quality of a solo instrument.2
1 “Rüde“ and “aspern“. See Johann Mattheson, Der neue Göttingsche … Ephorus, wegen der Kirchen-Musik … mit angehängtem Lauten-Material…, Hamburg 1727, pg. 118.
2 Sylvius Leopold Weiss adds in his letter to Mattheson that theorbo and archlute are “quite useless for galanterie pieces“, that is solo works.