The lyre that isn't

The geyerleier is, contrary to its name, not a lyre, but rather a lute, or more precisely, a box-necked lute. Like guitars, bouzoukis, or mandolins, the geyerleier is a body with a neck, over which the strings run and are fingered. In terms of construction, the geyerleier differs from the instruments mentioned mainly on these two points:
- The neck and the body are not two separate, joined parts but rather consist of one piece.
- The body does not close at the neck, but instead extends further on top of the neck all the way to the tuning peg head.

In terms of sound, the geyerleier is comparable to a cittern. The floating, slightly echoing effect of the sound is amplified by strings strung in choirs. The geyerleier is usually tuned to eE-bB-ee-bb or dD-aA-dd-aa, which allows it to be played as easily as our dulcister. It is, however, very easy to use bouzouki strings, and then tune the geyerleier like a bouzouki (gG-d'd-aa-ee).

The fingerboard and steel strings allow the use of common cittern, bouzouki or western guitar playing techniques. The geyerleier can be played either on your lap or hanging as you stand. In addition, due to the flat body, it is possible to play the instrument on a table like a scheitholt (German precursor of the modern zither), a zither or a mountain dulcimer.


Despite its medieval appearance, the geyerleier is quite a young instrument. It was developed by the designer and instrument maker Stuart M. Bilcock in the late 1990s. At that time the head plate still looked remotely like the head of a vulture. This circumstance and the location of the of Bilcock's workshop at that time, Geyerslay Farm, prompted Stuart Bilcock to give the instrument its name. Since then, the design has changed again and again and there are different variants like the model "Subway to Sally" named after the band. The only series-produced geyerleier, "Renaissance", is produced by Folkfriends and distributed together with Stuart Bilcock.

Over the course of time the geyerleier has gained more and more prominence and now enjoys increasing popularity among professional musicians such as Ingo Hampf (Subway to Sally), Dyrk Shivay and Angelo Kelly.

Those who would like to buy a geyerleier can do so by ordering directly from us in the shop. Simply follow the link!