Cittern (English guitar)

about 1770
John Preston (English, died in 1 died in 1798)

Object Place: London, England


Length 69 cm, width 29 cm (Length 27 3/16 in., width 11 7/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Maple, spruce, ebony

Not On View


Europe, Musical Instruments



Pear-shaped body of red-brown varnished maple. Sound-board with rose; round sound-hole surrounded by yellow lines. Vertical ribs, back flat except the upper part, which inclines toward the neck. Ebony finger-board with twelve brass frets and four holes for the capotasto. The peg-box of the usual type is replaced by Preston’s ‘machine.’ The neck ends with scroll bent bacward to provide clearance for the tuning-key and is surmounted by a small head. Strings: six courses, two lower ones of spun wire and four higher ones of steel in pairs, making ten strings altogether; lower end fastening (small brass pins in the bottom); shallow movable bridge, ivory nut; frontal type tuning end fastening; looped ends of strings attached to movable hooks.


Stamped on baCk of headstock: [monogram: JRP] / PRESTON MAKER / LONDON; engraved on machine tuners: PRESTON INVENTOR


Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

Credit Line

Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection