THE SOUND OF THE FLAMENCO GUITAR

In the past, the Flamenco guitarist always had problems with the volume of his guitar. Originally, the Flamenco guitar was exclusively used as an accompanying instrument for cante (singing) and baile (dancing). Compared with the loud taconeos (percussive footwork) of the bailaoras (female dancers) and bailaores (male dancers) and the voices of the cantaores (singers), some of which were quite powerful, the guitar was always too soft.

That is why the guitarrero (guitar-maker) was asked to build a loud instrument and the guitarrista (guitarist) was expected to play so that everyone could hear him. The guitarreros solved this problem by building guitars with strong, brilliant, high notes, a high volume in the middle frequencies, almost no bass and a tone which had a very short attack time, but also a very short decay. The Flamenco guitar responds instantly because it is very lightweight. The walls of the soundboard, bottom and sides are much thinner than those of a concert guitar. A Flamenco guitar with a good sound and a concert guitar are not comparable.

Everything else was up to the tocaor (guitarist). Over the years, the guitarists adapted a very loud, powerful toque which is still in use today, although electronic amplification is now quite common in Flamenco, as well. All techniques require playing close to the puente (bridge). Whether rasgueo (rasgueado), picado, arpegio or trémolo, the sound is always brilliant and dry.




FLAMENCO GUITAR VS CLASSICAL GUITAR

Before Don Antonio Torres Jurado (1817-1892) started building guitars at the time of the café cantante, the so-called guitarras de tablao were used in Flamenco. They were made of local wood which was cheaper than the precious woods from America Latina. Not only did Torres invent the modern guitar, but he was also the first guitar maker who began to differentiate between the Flamenco guitar and the classical guitar.

The Flamenco guitar is much lighter than the concert guitar. That is not only because it is made of cypress wood, but also, because the walls of its back, sides and soundboard are much thinner. Even today, many guitar manufacturers still build their Flamenco guitars with less depth than the concert guitars, i.e. the sides of the Flamenco guitar are about one inch (2.5 cm) narrower than those of a concert guitar. To claim that a genuine Flamenco guitar must have clavijas (wooden tuning pegs) instead of a tuning machine or that these will even influence the sound of the guitar is complete nonsense.


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