Matheson, ca 1720, said, "If a lute-player has lived eighty years, he has surely spent sixty years tuning." The bridge, sometimes made of a fruitwood, is attached to the soundboard typically at 1/5 to 1/7 the belly length.
Unlike most modern stringed instruments, the lute's fretboard is mounted flush with the top.
The pegbox for lutes before the Baroque era was angled back from the neck at almost 90° (see image), presumably to help hold the low-tension strings firmly against the nut which, traditionally, is not glued in place but is held in place by string pressure only.
The bridge is made so that it tapers in height and length, with the small end holding the trebles and the higher and wider end carrying the basses.
Bridges are often colored black with carbon black in a binder, often shellac and often have inscribed decoration.
The sound hole is not open, but rather covered with a grille in the form of an intertwining vine or a decorative knot, carved directly out of the wood of the soundboard.
The geometry of the lute soundboard is relatively complex, involving a system of barring that places braces perpendicular to the strings at specific lengths along the overall length of the belly, the ends of which are angled to abut the ribs on either side for structural reasons.
Given the choice between nylon and gut, many luthiers prefer to use gut, as it conforms more readily to the sharp angle at the edge of the fingerboard.
Strings were historically made of animal gut, usually from the small intestine of sheep (sometimes in combination with metal) and are still made of gut or a synthetic substitute, with metal windings on the lower-pitched strings.
They fray with use, and must be replaced from time to time.
A few additional partial frets of wood are usually glued to the body of the instrument, to allow stopping the highest-pitched courses up to a full octave higher than the open string, though these are regarded anachronistic by some (though John Dowland and Thomas Robinson describe the practice of gluing wooden frets onto the soundboard).
As the wood suffers dimensional changes through age and loss of humidity, it must retain a reasonably circular cross-section to function properly—as there are no gears or other mechanical aids for tuning the instrument.