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The "mad skillz" thread made it apparent a classical guitar thread would be appropriate.

Ashurbanipal, Stephanie Jones playing the Piazzolla pieces was a source of inspiration for me. I'm learning Primavera Porteno because of her.

jono, "Poor thing, having to play on that really basic looking beginners guitar !!! Hopefully now she's got a good job she has bought herself an electric guitar with cool inlays, big cutaways and a whammy bar :D"

I think she is doing well enough to afford a Premium JEM. ;) As for your first comment, it's funny because, for the most part, it is true. Concert guitars can look like beginner guitars. I figure you knew that though. ;)
 

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Classical guitar is fantastic and can be very insiring to me... My dad switched to playing nylon strings exclusively years ago and I just love the soft pure sound! Unfortunately, thats one guitar type I don't have. I've been looking around for one that isn't too expensive and has a thinner body, also with a more "electric" feeling neck... Ended up settling on one of these, thanks to LonePhantom, but need to sell some before buying anything else... Ibanez, of course! Ibanez GA35TCE-DVS
 

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I had 2 Ramirez, a 4NE and a 125 anyos. I sent them both down the road after I got a hand made replica of a Ribot y Alcaniz made by a small builder from Japan. The sound was just so much better. Also a weird scale length, 655mm.

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@Formerly Given To Fly, hell yeah, me too. When I first hear her playing the Invierno movement, I thought, 'f***, I have to learn this', so I promptly sought out the sheet music. I play Verano quite a bit, which tends to be the most popular in repertoires, but the other movements are great, bit more involved even.

Haha, pretty sure Jono was kidding. Still, that plain guitar probably cost more than two Pias :devilish:.

3bolt has all the guitars :D ; totally dig cypress back/sides. But yeah, playing a luthier built classical compared to an off-the-rack one is night and day, though of course, it's not feasible for most to spend over 5k on something like that. There are nevertheless plenty of good guitars out there for less. I personally have a student guitar, but it's a solid top and sounds ok, though it's not the easiest to play, especially if I don't practice consistently. Every f***-up and wonky execution is heard, nothing to hide behind 😄.

In my salad days, I did several years of formal training (as some may have surmised already), which was beneficial to playing in general and paying attention to certain details. These days, I tend to mostly improvise or play Baroque and Middle/South American music, it just feels/sounds best to me, I'm not as into the Romantic European tradition, though I learnt a lot of it when cutting my teeth as it's part of the standard repertoire.

Here's a special instrument, built by Antonio de Torres in 1856, known as 'la Leona', the fourth numbered from his first epoch of building. It's one of the most important guitars historically, being the first known which combines all of Torres' 'innovations' in one instrument - larger plantilla which was domed, seven strut fan bracing, very light build. It also has a tornavoz, a conical brass tube inside the soundhole connecting the top and the back, intended to give a bit more richness to the sound and enhance projection. Later on Torres figured out a way to build to such a sound without the tornavoz, he only occasionally installed it anyway (makes restoration and maintenance of guitars a real plain). The guitar has been extensively restored since it was built, as you might imagine, was converted from friction pegs to machineheads (also long ago) and is no longer gut strung, but there's plenty of anecdotal evidence of players and audiences back in the day being awed by its sound. The short of it is that every nylon guitar built since is in some way based on this one.
 

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The guy that built my guitar is an ex pat living in Japan. His name is Stephen Faulk. Most of his guitars are thousands of dollars. But he had this guitar for sale on a classical guitar forum for two years. I watched as he whittled the price down over two years. We talked about it often, and one day I get an email from him out of the blue.

Business was slow for him, and he was short of cash for a round trip ticket from Japan to San Fran and back. I would have paid his price that he originally asked two years prior if I would have had it. He needed the ticket in 6 weeks. I sold my Ramirez 4NE and sent him some money. I got the Veteran’s discount and then some. I promised him I would never tell anyone on the forum what I paid, as that might be damaging to his business.

The guitar was a one off. An experiment For his personal interest. It is a smaller body guitar. But it is quite voluminous, as far as being able to be heard in an auditorium. I will need to redo the French polish someday soon. He only put two thin applications on it. And that is one of the reasons for the exceptional tone.
 

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Interesting anecdote, and yes, small size does not at all equal small sound, sometimes quite the opposite. There's several Torres which are similarly small but sound very big. Towards the end of his life, he seems to have also experimented with a shallower body on his full size guitars to get more push/projection. Aside from building smaller ones as kind of 'budget' guitars, maybe he also built them as an exercise to see how much sound could be squeezed out of them, as guitars till he started his career were generally smaller.

Stephen's guitars look very nice, particularly the 7 string! His prices are also very reasonable. This one looks stunning - made of reclaimed wood – black persimmon – something people should be doing more (Torres himself built mostly out of reclaimed materials too)!
 

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Interesting anecdote, and yes, small size does not at all equal small sound, sometimes quite the opposite. There's several Torres which are similarly small but sound very big. Towards the end of his life, he seems to have also experimented with a shallower body on his full size guitars to get more push/projection. Aside from building smaller ones as kind of 'budget' guitars, maybe he also built them as an exercise to see how much sound could be squeezed out of them, as guitars till he started his career were generally smaller.

Stephen's guitars look very nice, particularly the 7 string! His prices are also very reasonable. This one looks stunning - made of reclaimed wood – black persimmon – something people should be doing more (Torres himself built mostly out of reclaimed materials too)!
He has certainly made some very fine guitars. Mostly he makes Flamenco. I was truly blessed to have had him make me such an offer. I am looking at an Alvarez CG at the moment. It’s scale is 660mm. Really want to try that.

I had a Ramirez 1A for a while in high school. The scale was just a little too long for me. It was like 667 or some thing. The guitar Steven made is 655mm.
 

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That’s right, I forgot it was 664. That is just a little too long for me. But I am looking at an Alvarez that’s 660. I like my 655 LOTS. BUT I just wanna see if a 660 is doable.
 

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Lot of cool stuff going on here. Thanks for sharing all the pictures, stories, and thoughts.

I recently re-discovered Coste and have been really enjoying listening to this. I'm sure the several of you with classical background are no strangers to him. An extremely interesting fellow and truly legendary as a great music-lover and music-explorer. Of course, all prodigies and great musicians contribute in many ways to their art, and to the science of music as well, but Coste really embodies the "musicologist" that pushed boundaries and was ahead of his time in many ways.

In any case, here is something to listen to perhaps:


One video per post is enough, but as a sidenote, I stumbled on this awesome documentary from the 60s with Segovia being interviewed and generally farting around in his amazing house. I'll dig it out of my history and post it if anyone is interested. It was super cool.
 

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I think I know that Segovia documentary, it is insightful for sure. His house is not too shabby either :D . He sure was a character, and totally recognizable musically - the way he played all that Spanish and contemporary repertoire, deservedly a giant of the instrument.

Good mention of Coste (impeccably played there by Apro). I get the impression that he is somewhat underrated - he doesn't seem to get played much by concertizing soloists these days. To me, he is also particularly interesting because of his association with extended range guitars; he also stayed loyal to the earlier style of Romantic, pre-Torres guitar, till the end of his career, though he would've been aware of what the Spaniards were doing.

There were lots of composers for the instrument in the 19th century but a lot of them have been forgotten as they may not have had expansive careers and their music didn't see much publication (gotta peruse them archives). More recently, some are being rediscovered, but the usual suspects still get the most air time.

This is a Lacôte like the one Coste had. He was one of the most important builders of the first half of the 19th century. This instrument has a bigger plantilla than his usual ones, and the interesting separate bridge/tailpiece (he typically did pinned, like acoustic guitars still have today). Still ladder braced, afaik, like most guitars (and lutes) were for centuries prior. The 7th string was usually tuned to D by Coste, but could be varied according to the music, of course.
 

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Yeah, I ended up in a deep rabbit hole learning about Lacote on the one hand and then Coste's guitars on the other.

This harp guitar guy's page details this particular heptachorde that Lacote built for Coste and seemingly eschewed his standard artistry and visual touches in order to produce an extremely "workhorse" design, without any frills, believed to be precisely to Coste's specifications and desires. At first glance it seems almost ugly--very blocky, very "basic" and lacking beauty.

However, on closer inspection it becomes clear that the beauty of the instrument is exactly that. Really cool and interesting story.

This specific guitar really is amazing because the condition is unbelievable (and as the Harp Guitar Guy says, this basically means that the wood was superbly conditioned and of extreme quality, and the construction environment was incomparable) and because of the connection to Coste.

Coste's collection of stringed instruments at any given time must have really been a treasure to see first-hand, and that's not to mention his own experimentation.

Anyway, you nailed it: he does seem underrated, and he also is really interesting especially for those of us who love guitars with more than strings (and the players that make them special). Given how popular 7/8-strings are in modern guitar music (from heavier djenty stuff to more "classic" Vai stuff) Coste should really have more recognition and appreciation than he probably does for the average joe.
 

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O, those are some excellent close-ups of the Lacôte. The condition is :eek:, someone(s) kept it in their wardrobe/under the bed all this time! And that case! He was a fantastic builder, and though he was based in the Romantic guitar tradition, he worked with customers and did a lot of customization, the collaboration with Coste being one example.

Lacôte certainly had easier access to good quality materials (check that one-piece flame back!), unlike Torres, for whom it was a problem. I don't know if anyone's written a book on Lacôte (or Panormo, for that matter), would be a grand thing. Romanillos' book on Torres is still the standard, though much has been learned in recent years (someone should also make an online database of Torres’ instruments, there’s still occasions when a previously unknown one is found). It’s an interesting read nevertheless, and I’d recommended to any guitar geek, though it’s hard to find.

The simple aesthetics was something that began to be increasingly the case in the 19th century - guitars were coming into the hands of proficient players and composers, and these serious chaps (perhaps influenced by viol players) were looking for instruments which had minimal ornamentation, and were made with optimum sound production in mind. Guitars with lots of inlay and marquetry probably were seen to be more pieces of furniture than musical instruments.

Yes, Coste should definitely be included among important extended range players. I guess guitarists know George Van Eps and Lenny Breau as 7 string players before Steve rocked it up, but some of these 19th century guys were certainly ‘with it’. I mean, the Germans and Austrians were building and playing the Schrammelgittaren with up to 13 strings. When Torres, subsequent makers and players championing that guitar type came along, everything else went by the wayside, so we kind of forgot about extra strings and things like baritone, terz and tenor voiced instruments in the mainstream classical world (still strongly maintained in viol and mandolin world, however). I don’t think there’s a guitar ensemble out there where people are playing these instruments, everyone plays a regular guitar, kinda boring! I read an interview with the Austrian builder Daniel Zucali recently, and he talks about this, and one reason he builds baritone, terz, extended range etc. – he wants players and composers to (re)embrace these other voices and ranges to create a real ensemble, like a guitar version of string quartets/quintets. I can get behind that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
O, those are some excellent close-ups of the Lacôte. The condition is :eek:, someone(s) kept it in their wardrobe/under the bed all this time! And that case! He was a fantastic builder, and though he was based in the Romantic guitar tradition, he worked with customers and did a lot of customization, the collaboration with Coste being one example.

Lacôte certainly had easier access to good quality materials (check that one-piece flame back!), unlike Torres, for whom it was a problem. I don't know if anyone's written a book on Lacôte (or Panormo, for that matter), would be a grand thing. Romanillos' book on Torres is still the standard, though much has been learned in recent years (someone should also make an online database of Torres’ instruments, there’s still occasions when a previously unknown one is found). It’s an interesting read nevertheless, and I’d recommended to any guitar geek, though it’s hard to find.

The simple aesthetics was something that began to be increasingly the case in the 19th century - guitars were coming into the hands of proficient players and composers, and these serious chaps (perhaps influenced by viol players) were looking for instruments which had minimal ornamentation, and were made with optimum sound production in mind. Guitars with lots of inlay and marquetry probably were seen to be more pieces of furniture than musical instruments.

Yes, Coste should definitely be included among important extended range players. I guess guitarists know George Van Eps and Lenny Breau as 7 string players before Steve rocked it up, but some of these 19th century guys were certainly ‘with it’. I mean, the Germans and Austrians were building and playing the Schrammelgittaren with up to 13 strings. When Torres, subsequent makers and players championing that guitar type came along, everything else went by the wayside, so we kind of forgot about extra strings and things like baritone, terz and tenor voiced instruments in the mainstream classical world (still strongly maintained in viol and mandolin world, however). I don’t think there’s a guitar ensemble out there where people are playing these instruments, everyone plays a regular guitar, kinda boring! I read an interview with the Austrian builder Daniel Zucali recently, and he talks about this, and one reason he builds baritone, terz, extended range etc. – he wants players and composers to (re)embrace these other voices and ranges to create a real ensemble, like a guitar version of string quartets/quintets. I can get behind that.
Your knowledge base is deep.
As for the guitar version of a string quartet idea, it makes a lot of sense on paper. To find out if it makes sense in real life, I think a lot financial support would be required through art grants and academia.
Daniel Zucali’s guitars look pretty cool. :)
 

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I have listened to a couple of standout bands (well, one is an all-time favorite) that leveraged three guitarists to create a very rich sound, but that's as close to the concept as I've seen, I think, well outside of one-off songs or collaborations or live stuff anyway. I think it would be awesome, especially away from a rock context. Anyone who has ever just jammed on acoustics with a couple buddies (like 3 or 4 people total) knows that the sound created by multiple standard-range guitars playing different parts sounds absolutely amazing, even if it's just basic chords and simple leads, or just "extra" layer of harmony on some "real" song. I think the effect that could be created by a guitar quartet could be really cool if played in "classic" styling.

You definitely wouldn't want to just do four 6-strings all in the same tuning to make it properly comparable to the point of a quartet, but I think even 2 + 2 7/8stringers would be enough variation to really open up some doors. Obviously wouldn't be a top seller and yeah, doubt would gain much traction. That said, guitar is a dominant instrument in pop/rock, and although it doesn't have a spot in the standard symphonic or chamber ensemble, it's certainly also an important instrument in "classical music" after acknowledging the violin family's unquestioned rule. So, I think the possibility of some acceptance could be there.

On the other hand, I think guitar's inherent strength (range) is also its weakness as far as the idea of a quartet goes. That is to say, what makes a quartet beautiful (and why it ever even existed) is because multiple instruments were used to create the range that a guitar can pretty much do by itself. So a guitar's very concept as an instrument kind of both makes it simultaneously superbly-suited and incompatible with the engineering philosophy of a quartet in the first place. The guitar's dominance in modern music is much a result of its range and flexibility, and that character is precisely why string quartet doesn't translate well.
 

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Yes. Having played in an ensemble for a spell in the past, where we all had normal guitars, looking back, the stuff that was most enjoyable to play was that which had multiple diverse parts where there was a good distinction between low, mid and high, chordal etc. If things were kinda close sounding in terms of voice, it wasn't as good, imo.

Mm, Segovia did a lot of the legwork in getting the guitar accepted as an instrument you could play serious music on, though with that, it's still mostly seen as a solo instrument. There have been successful duos, like Presti-Lagoya and the Assads (and, though they are not at all classical, Rodrigo y Gabriela), but most of the big name guitarists have pretty much exclusively been soloists, apart from the odd collaboration (like Bream and Williams). Lots of untapped potential. As you say, having more strings and/or different tunings are some possibilities.

Interesting point and a good summation of the seeming paradox the guitar presents, hadn't thought of it like that before :). On viols, one plays single lines almost exclusively, so having a quartet/quintet builds that to a strong effect, while one guitar can kinda do all that if need be (the amount of stuff on YT where people play crazy arrangements of songs/pieces on one instrument is proof enough). We'd have to restrict ourselves to single lines maybe ;).

Your knowledge base is deep.
As for the guitar version of a string quartet idea, it makes a lot of sense on paper. To find out if it makes sense in real life, I think a lot financial support would be required through art grants and academia.
Daniel Zucali’s guitars look pretty cool. :)
I think the history of our instrument is not interesting just for the geeky stuff about building and what putting bits of wood together means for timbre, but because it intersects society and so the historical process. The guitar is perhaps the most social instrument of them all, it has responded to and has been affected by whatever was happening around it. Like, the Romantic guitar came to Britain in the late 18th-early 19th centuries via the French and Spanish, courtesy of people fleeing the upheavals from French Revolution, Spanish resistance to Napoleon and the ongoing fall-out from that. Before this, the Brits were playing those citterns (or 'gitterns') with small pear-shaped bodies and metal strings.

Yea, that would be one way of doing it. It would be also kick-arse if a venerable composer wrote something in such a vein, like Leo Brower, who is a god in writing for the guitar. He could compose something amazing with baritone and terz voicings in there. As a kind of stop-gap, going back to Evan's point, alternative tuning for some parts may also work.

I really like the look of his stuff, especially the fact that he offers lots of different non-tropical woods. Here, plum fingerboard; pear back/sides; alder neck; cedar top.


The nylon string jazz guitar (appropriately named the Jazzabella) is quite inspired. Slightly cubist lines.


Stephi playing Takemitsu's arrangement of 'Yesterday' on her own Zucali. Spruce and plum; check that rosette design!
 
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