Classical vs Spanish vs Flamenco?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by coyoteblue, Sep 4, 2008.

  1. coyoteblue

    coyoteblue Member

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    I'd like to know what the differences are between classical, spanish and flamenco guitars...is it a question of set-up or are the guitars actually different in construction?
     
  2. Nuclearfishin

    Nuclearfishin Supporting Member

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    Yes, there are definite build differences in all three of those styles of guitar. First, the easy one--Flamenco. Flamenco guitars are typically built with much lighter bracing, lighter back/sides, and definitely a thinner top. This help create a more percussive sound typically found in flamenco music. It usually has a loud, strong initial attack, but then sound dies off quickly. Action is usually much lower. You'll also notice the tuners (pegs) on flamenco guitars are different, more like a violin or lute than a guitar. Finally, the choice of tonewood is usually cypress for back/sides with a spruce top.

    Classical and Spanish are often used interchangeably (they shouldn't be), but guitars built in the spanish tradition have a definite sound and tonal characteristic typical of the region they are built in. It's pretty safe to say all spanish guitars are classical, but not all classical are spanish guitars. When you think of the spanish sound, people often think of Ramirez, Torres, etc. The guitars are braced a certain way, almost always use a spanish heel, typically have cedar tops with RW back/sides. Classical guitars on the other hand almost always describe any nylon string guitar which include traditional, lattice braced, double top, etc. They are made from many different tonewoods in many combinations. Scale length is typically from 630-664mm although in the modern classical 650mm seems to be the norm. There are other minor differences but this should get you in the ballpark.
     
  3. j_uc

    j_uc Member

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    hey thank you this is really informative. Sorry for hijacking, but do you know if Brazilian guitars (those used for bossa nova) fall within those categories or are different?
     
  4. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    I have never seen a cedar top Torres. Cedar came into vogue in the late 50's early 60's, if I'm not mistaken.

    Have you gotten your Hauser yet? :)
     
  5. solitaire

    solitaire Senior Member

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    Nuclearfishin' is pretty spot on, except the interesting fact there are Biancas and Negras when it comes to Flamencos. Biancas are Cypress and Negras are RW.

    Also the Classical guitar originally has its origin in the guitars used during the barrock era often in symphonic setting and has its roots in the violin family of instruments. I believe one of those early guitar is played in the movie Shakespear In Love in a smaller instrumental setting, for instance.
     
  6. Alter

    Alter Member

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    classical guitars are also meant to respond to gentle playing. flamenco guitars can handle aggressive playing much better, and also have a much brighter tone. think classical versus flamenco music
     
  7. Nuclearfishin

    Nuclearfishin Supporting Member

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    Yeah, I think you're right about the Torres, I was mostly thinking Ramirez and how just about every guitar I've ever seen from his shop was cedar, and 664mm (big guitars--although there are more 650's in their current guitars ). My Hauser isn't here yet but I'm hoping to take delivery within the year.

    My neighbor just got a Humphery recently repaired by Brune that sounds amazing. I'm hoping I like the Hauser as much as his Humphrey!!! :love:
     
  8. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    Terrible about Tom's sudden passing, I think he had just turned 60. It is incredible the number of top pros that have used/still use Humphrey guitars!

    My first CG was cedar.....a student model '73 Alvarez-Yairi that was meant to be a copy of a Ramirez. Everything else in my collection is spruce.......but.......I have a new cedar top guitar being built......
     
  9. coyoteblue

    coyoteblue Member

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    Great information...thanks. I have a follow-up. Can one readily play the classical repertoire on a flamenco guitar, or flamenco on a classical? Which would be the way to go?
     
  10. drive-south

    drive-south Member

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    My understanding of the term "Spanish" means the guitar has a round neck and low action and is fretted. This is the opposite of "Hawiaan" where the guitar has very high action and all notes are played off a bar such as a bullet steel.

    Gibson's term ES (as in ES335, ES125, ES175, etc) means "electric-Spanish", as apposed to EH "Electric-Hawiaan".

    Now back to our regularly scheduled discussion.

    drive-south
     
  11. MickeyJi

    MickeyJi Member

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    If you want to play real flamenco, it needs to have a "golpeador" - a thin, usually transparent pickguard type of protection on the top below (and sometimes above) the soundhole to protect the top from typical flamenco taps. No harm in playing classical on a flamenco guitar IMO
     
  12. celvira

    celvira Member

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    The "golpeador" is usefull because the wood and the finish are not damaged. I played with a high level classical (Contreras) without golpeador and the owner didn't like it I hit the top at all!
    Some flamenco guitar players don't like the "golpeador":

    [​IMG]


    Others (youngers) can use it:

    [​IMG]
     

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