I discussed this with Owain in person at a renaissance fair several years ago. The short answer is yes. He played a deliberately modern instrument that looks kinda renaissancey to entertain an audience that is seeking fantasy via idealized anachronism rather than expecting anything like a historic approach.
I stumbled across him doing a set with a small ensemble while I was reluctantly wandering the grounds of a renaissance fair in the late 1990s. I knew of his New World Renaissance Band but had never seen him perform before. Afterwards, I approached to discuss his interesting instrument. I said something like, "That's an interesting piece you have there. It looks to be a modern steel-string guitar fitted with something similar to banjo tuners and ornamented to emulate the famous Jaquemart-André vihuela held in a Paris collection." He replied something like, "This is a chitarra battente," in spite of the fact that he played it entirely fingerstyle. I told him exactly what design features are typically considered to constitute the chitarra battente that arose in Italian-speaking places of the baroque era. However, the conversation had already ended by then, and I just hadn't realized it had. He actually knew chitarra battente perfectly well. He played one by James North (1993) on the album Sweet Was the Song (1995), although he rearranged its 10 string capacity to span six courses. Yes, I actually liked his sound. I consider it a slightly guilty indulgence only to be selectively revealed to my HIP friends. Unfortunately, cancer took Owain in 2012. Best, Eugene ________________________________________ From: lute-...@cs.dartmouth.edu [lute-...@cs.dartmouth.edu] on behalf of Edward C. Yong [edward.y...@gmail.com] Sent: Sunday, August 31, 2014 12:34 AM To: Vihuela List Subject: [VIHUELA] Owain Phyfe hi! i've been relistening to my cds of the late Owain Phyfe's stuff. it's fun stuff, catchy and all, but the description of his instrument as a 'chitarra battente (Italian renaissance guitar)' in interviews puzzles me. it sounds like neither a chitarra battente nor a renaissance guitar of any sort, and pictures show it to have 6 single metal strings, bridge pins, machine tuners etc. merely tarted up w some vihuela-style soundboard inlays. would i be right in concluding that calling it a 'chitarra battente (Italian renaissance guitar)' is nothing more than an organological lie that he got away with for so long because his audience were (are?) generally ignorant Renfaire types? Edward Yong ======== τούτο ηλεκτρονικόν ταχυδρομείον εκ είΠαδοιο εμεύ επέμφθη. Hæ litteræ electronicæ ab iPade missæ sunt. 此電子郵件發送于自吾iPad。 This e-mail was sent from my iPad. To get on or off this list see list information at http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/~wbc/lute-admin/index.html