Flamenco Guitar And Strings – Advice for Beginners

Do you need a special type of guitar?

The simple answer is no! For a beginner, any classical guitar (with nylon strings) will do the job.

Having said that, there are 2 points of confusion worth mentioning. They may seem obvious to most people, but I am here to tell you that they are not for everyone.

1) Any steel string guitar is NOT suitable. There was a time when certain styles of country, western, and jazz guitars were advertised as “Spanish guitars” for some unknown reason. (I think because they have more or less the same shape as a classical/flamenco guitar). If you search hard enough, you can even find some books from the 1920s, 30s, and 40s that have plectrum-style music for these “Spanish guitars.” The equation seems to be: Flamenco = Spanish music = let’s play it on my grandfather’s Spanish guitar. Now where did he put those spikes? Or something like that.

2) Another common misconception is that the bass strings on a classical guitar are steel. On the outside they look the same as their steel brothers, but that’s where the similarity ends. Classical guitar bass strings have many fine nylon strands woven into the copper winding. If you look closely, you’ll see these threads sticking out of the end of the rope.

3) The action should be fairly low without producing excessive buzz on the strings.

4) A solid wood top produces better tone than a factory laminated wood guitar.

5) A striker plate (pickguard) must be placed on the top of the guitar. Genuine flamenco instruments already have them, but any decent guitar repair shop or luthier can fit one for you. Right hand tapping techniques can certainly damage the guitar if this protection is not in place.

6) Flamenco guitars are generally lighter in construction. I personally don’t like heavy guitars. To me, a guitar should feel comfortable and “easy to play”. Heavy wood guitars like some classical guitars don’t work for me.

7) When I was learning I only bought cheap guitars. Mainly because he couldn’t afford to pay $500 or more for an expensive guitar hand-made by a respected luthier. That doesn’t mean that a second-hand, non-flamenco factory guitar isn’t good. For example, I think Yamaha makes good beginner classical guitars that are more than adequate for learning flamenco with a strike plate attached. I was pretty rough on my guitars, so I never got pretty on an instrument. When I needed to replace my guitar, I simply visited the local thrift store and spent an hour trying out different styles of classical guitars. A guitar doesn’t have to be expensive; you just need to “talk to me”. What I mean is that you need to feel comfortable and have a strong tone.

8) One consideration that I think is important is whether the strings hold good tone even if they are fairly worn. This has more to do with the guitar than with the strings themselves. That’s why trying out vintage guitars at a thrift store is a good idea if you just want a cheap beginner’s instrument. I would try the ones with worn strings first. The problem is that many guitars sound great and shiny with shiny new strings, but quickly lose their tone after a few days.

Strings – What brand? What tension?

A brand of strings that fits one guitar may not be suitable for another. The best way to determine which one is best for your guitar is to experiment. Some popular brands are Savarez, La Bella, Augustine and D’Addario. If you are not sure about the tension, please choose normal tension.

Extending the life of the rope

1) Bass strings will wear naturally as a result of contact with the fret wires. Before this wear becomes excessive, loosen the string and thread it through the hole in the saddle about a centimeter. The idea is to shift the worn section so that it appears over the gaps between the frets when you re-tighten it.

2) Reverse the bass strings when they wear down so you end up with a fresh section over the sound hole.

3) Use a cloth impregnated with lemon oil before and after playing.

Light up dull strings

1) Perspiration on the hands can dull the resonance of the lower strings. If this happens, loosen the strings and retighten them.

2) Another more radical method is to wipe the string taut with a cloth soaked in methylated spirits. Raise the string a couple of inches at the 12th fret and let it hit the fretboard. This should loosen and shake some of the dirt off the strings.

change of strings

It’s always a good idea to change strings one at a time to keep a constant tension on the neck and bridge. Tune each new string to concert pitch before removing the next one.

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