Customer Testimonials

Classical Guitar Information

Although on the surface a Classical and Flamenco guitar may appear to be very similar, there are differences thus different setups are required.

The differences lie in the materials in which the guitars are constructed, voiced, the geometry of the neck angle and the string clearance set up.

On the whole, Classical guitars have high string clearances and a soundboard that is structured firmly to project a very clear tone when many contruountal musical voices are performed.

On the other hand a flamenco guitar requires very accurate geometry of the neck angle and low string clearances, generally set up with an 8mm string clearance from the soundboard at the bridge to facilitate rapid rascuedo and percussive techniques that are associated with flamenco music. The soundbox is made with a loose voicing to assist in quick bright attack of the note. The finest Classical and Flamenco guitars are produced by individual makers.

String Tension

There is a sensitive relationship between the string tension and the soundboard. The construction methods used, soundboard thickness, bracing patterns and material choice all affect the tension, feel and response in the string. Therefore string tension varies form guitar to guitar

It is common for players who are playing traditional concert classical guitars to use Hard tension strings with a high string clearance. This is done to achieve a wide dynamic range soft to loud (piano forte ), which requires a well developed and strong technique.

A normal string tension is preferred by Flamenco Players, as the lighter tension facilitates the playing of rapid passages. But this is all relative to the guitar and player.

Modern classical guitar strings were only available in four tensions: Light, Normal , Hard and Extra Hard, all usually made from nylon trebles and silver plated copper wound on nylon strands for bass. Recently carbon treble strings have become more popular.

Traditional nylon strings have individual voices between all six strings. Modern carbon treble strings, on the other hand, have a quicker attack, brighter almost metallic sound, and are preferred by players with modern light soundboard construction lattice braced guitars. Greg Smallman prefers this setup.

Tuning of open strings

Guitars are generally tuned to concert pitch with the A note above middle C vibrating at 440 cycles per second as our standard.

Tuning

String Pitch(low to High)

Player

Concert Pitch A 440

E A D G B E

Standard Choice for all

Scale Length

Scale length of the guitar is the length of the vibrating string from nut to saddle, or twice the distance from the nut to the 12 th fret. Assuming all else is equal (pitch and gauge of the strings) the longer the scale length the greater the tension will be in the strings.

Throughout the development of the Spanish guitar many scale lengths have been used, form 630mm to 700mm. During the 19 th C the 650 mm scale length was adopted and standardised by Antonio Torres De Jurado, the father of the modern Spanish guitar. This tradition has continued to the present day. However, some artisans have varied form this scale length such as Ramirez who opted for 665mm to give his instruments a more powerful tone. Longer scale guitar are generally more demanding on the player.

Fretwire size/dimension

This is the height and width of the fret wire.

Standard choice on classical and flamenco guitars is a medium fretwire averaging 2 mm wide by 0.9mm tall.

Fingerboard Surface

Most Classical and Flamenco guitars have a flat fingerboard that tapers in thickness to accommodate the large string motion.

Ramirez in the sixties introduced a slight radius in the fingerboard that is being adopted by many independent luthiers such as Carson Crickmore, Humphries.

Although Louis Panormo of London introduced a very curved fingerboard radius on his nylon string Spanish style guitar in the 19 th century.

String Clearance (Action)

The action is a general term used to describe how the strings are distributed across the fingerboard. The higher the strings are from the frets, the more force is required to fret the string; conversely the lower the strings are from the frets the easier it is to fret the string. Different instruments and different playing styles will dictate different set-ups.

Action regulation is determined by how the string clearances are distributed at the nut, bridge, profile of bridge saddle and the amount of neck curvature.

Action

String Clearance at 1 st String 12 th fret

String Clearance at 6 th string 12 th fret

Neck Relief

Very Low (electric nylon)

1.5 mm

2.5 mm

0.2mm

Flamenco

2.5 mm

3.2 mm

0.2mm

Medium

2.8mm

4.2mm

0.4mm

Concert Classical

3.5 mm

5.0mm.

0.5mm

High

4.0mm

5.6mm

0.6mm

Neck Relief (deliberate neck curvature)

This is amount of concave bow in the neck (dipping in the middle) that can help create a relatively buzz free action. The amount of neck relief is determined by adjusting the truss rod tension.

String length compensation (Intonation)

When we depress a string to play a note we are stretching the string. This stretching makes the pitch of the note sound sharper; therefore a correction is required to compensate for this discrepancy. Thus intonation is the state of the guitar so that it is harmoniously in tune with itself, this is usually done by setting the strings length at the point at which the string crosses the bridge saddle.

Tempering is the art of balancing the pitch relationships between strings to have the guitar intonate evenly over the entire fingerboard

Flexibility of neck and soundboard

Weak or rubbery vibrating surfaces produce an unstable sounding musical notes, therefore it is better to have a stiff vibrating surface. On the other extreme side the thinner vibrating components can be prone to movement and affected by temperature and humidity changes. Thin and flexible instruments produce notes that warble with unclear upper partials making it difficult to clearly distinguish and tune the strings to pitch. Quality instrument design balances stiffness to weight.

Bridges

Classical and Flamenco guitar bridges are made from one piece of hardwood traditionally rosewood.

A saddle is traditionally made of bone and on newer manufactured guitars using moulded synthetic materials.

The saddle is set into the bridge at the manufacturers predetermined length and angle. Intonation can also be improved by making a saddle with calibrated lengths for each individual string.

Don't hesitate to get in contact with us if you have any questions regarding your instrument.



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