The Theorbo is a type of European lute. The name “lute” encompasses a wide variety of plucked string instruments with long or short necks and rounded backs. Such instruments have an extensive history in many parts of the world.
The Theorbo is a product of the Florentine Renaissance. It has a deep, powerful sound, and it was likely developed specifically to provide the bass range – a range not available from the then-popular tenor lute. The theorbo has a long neck – some as long as six feet. It has two sets of strings – a longer set tuned with pegs at the top of the fret board (for the deeper range), and a shorter set tuned by pegs on the sides of the fret board (for the higher range).
The theorbo was an important instrument through the Renaissance and baroque eras. The last historical compositions written with the theorbo in mind appeared about 1750.