Lute can refer
generally to any string instrument having the strings running in a
plane parallel to the sound table (in the Hornbostel?Sachs system),
more specifically to any plucked string instrument with a neck
(either fretted or unfretted) and a deep round back, or more
specifically to an instrument from the family of European lutes.
Lutes built at present are invariably replicas or near copies of those surviving historical instruments that are in museums or private collections.
As a result, lutes are generally more expensive than mass-produced modern instruments such as the guitar, though not nearly as expensive as the violin. Playing the lute is an enormously enjoyable and satisfying pastime.
The instrument is capable of producing the most beautiful sounds, and has a vast repertoire of music, which it would take a lifetime to explore fully. This repertoire includes not only solo music, but a substantial body of songs, duets, and consort pieces, and so the lute offers opportunities for social as well as solo playing.
The lute attracted the attention of the most accomplished musicians in its day, and so some of the repertoire is very hard, but at the same time, the simplest lute music can sound truly beautiful if played with a correct basic technique.