The bandora was a most important instrument around 1600. There is a solo repertoire, printed and published for amateur players by Anthony Holborne and others, and there is consort music. Especially in the so called 'Broken Consort' the bandora provides the bottom harmony while its little sister, the cittern, takes care of the top harmony, treble and bass viols play the two outer lines and lutes and flute play and ornament middle parts.
Unfortunately no original instruments survived but we know from pictures that most bandoras had a slanted bridge and nut and fanned frets on the fingerboard. It was tuned like a 8 course lute lacking the chanterelle. Dd-Ff-Gg-cc-ff-aa-dd. Strung in iron. The beautiful orpharion by Francis Palmer, build in London 1617 is a perfect model.
At first I had just an idea of a sound in my mind and I knew what the instrument should look like. Palmer was so perfect and beautiful that I wanted this copied in every detail, and it should have a carved head, representing my favorite character in Shakespeare, Nick Bottom the weaver from the 'Midsummer-Night's Dream' in his altered state.
I felt very much drawn to the bandora, since I love the clear bright sound of iron strings, having build and strung many harpsichords in my life. Also, with Stephen Birkett's p-wire there is an iron wire available now, that has all the sound qualities I'm looking for. With my trusted friend Dieter Schossig I embarked on this adventure some years ago, talking and planing. For him it was the first iron strung instrument. Dieter made the drawings, I calculated the strings, Dieter build the instrument, I tested it.
Bandoras need a very very low action. Otherwise the intonation will suffer. Also, accurate tuning with iron strings and friction pegs is close to impossible. Here another fantastic craftsman came into the picture. Violin builder and bow maker Hagen Schiffler has specialized in modifying geared tuners to look like friction pegs but providing the comfort and precision we are looking for in the 21st century. His work made wresting the donkey so much easier.