The lute can refer generally, to any plucked-string musical instrument with a neck (either fretted or unfretted) and a deep round back, or the more specific style of "European lute". The lute is used in a great variety of instrumental music from the Medieval to the late Baroque eras and was one of the most important instruments for secular music in the Renaissance. It evolved from the ancient Middle Eastern instrument, the oud.
It was popular and widely used in Europe from about the 12th century AD until well into the 18th century. After a period of disuse lasting more than a hundred years, interest in it revived during the 20th century.
Lutes are made almost entirely of wood. The soundboard is a teardrop-shaped thin flat plate of resonant wood (usually spruce). European lutes have a large, circular sound hole cut into the belly and ornamented with a perforated rose carved from the belly's wood.The back/shell consists of thin strips of hardwood joined edge to edge to form the deep rounded body.