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After joining the top to the sides, a half-binding is usually installed around the edge of the soundboard.

The half-binding is approximately half the thickness of the soundboard and is usually made of a contrasting color wood.

The term also refers generally to any string instrument having the strings running in a plane parallel to the sound table (in the Hornbostel–Sachs system).

The strings are attached to pegs or posts at the end of the neck, which have some type of turning mechanism to enable the player to tighten the tension on the string or loosen the tension before playing (which respectively raise or lower the pitch of a string), so that each string is tuned to a specific pitch (or note).

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.

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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.During the Baroque music era, the lute was used as one of the instruments which played the basso continuo accompaniment parts.It is also an accompanying instrument in vocal works.The lute is plucked or strummed with one hand while the other hand "frets" (presses down) the strings on the neck's fingerboard.By pressing the strings on different places of the fingerboard, the player can shorten or lengthen the part of the string that is vibrating, thus producing higher or lower pitches (notes).