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Paco de Lucia's guitar
I had the privilege of having the stage guitar of Paco de Lucia in my shop for...
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I provide basic information on this page about various wood species, varnish types, etc., everything that you need to know when you are considering buying a guitar.

How much money do I have to spend to get a good guitar?
The most inexpensive instrument in my shop is currently Mundo Flamenco 3F for 390 euros. This instrument is not a compromise, but instead a full-fledged flamenco guitar with all the advantages that a flamenco guitar provides, e.g., percussive string setting, easy playability and clear, awesome sound. In other words, you can already get a great instrument for 390 euros. The beginner category ends at approx. 1200 euros.
Everything that is more expensive is a real professional instrument. The Camps Primera and Sanchis López 1F are instruments that a lot of pros play on stage and in studios.
The handcrafted master guitars, i.e., an instrument built solely by a master and exclusively by hand with annual production of 15 to 20 guitars, start at approx. 3,500 euros today. Of course, you get very select woods for that money, a guitar built with love of details, which is also mostly varnished using a very time-consuming manual polishing procedure for applying the shellac. In other words, something very special, which of course you can also hear.
A good alternative to the handcrafted master guitars is a handcrafted factory guitar, which is sold for up to approx. 3,000 euros. This is a very professional instrument, which is not as expensive as the master guitars due to the more inexpensive workflows in series work, but still has a great sound and is very close to the master guitars in quality. Examples of this are the Camps Concierto and Sanchis López 1F Extra. These instruments are built personally by the workshop masters and have many features of a master guitar.
Consequently, you can see that you can find a suitable instrument for every budget.

What do I have to pay attention to when I buy a flamenco guitar?
If you have small hands, make certain that you buy an instrument with a short scale length. This would be a scale of 650 mm for a flamenco guitar. Flamenco guitars are often built with longer scales, e.g., 660. There are various reasons for this such as sound, harder string action, etc. In the meantime, there are a few good guitar builders who build guitars with 650 mm scale. There are also a few guitar builders in the master guitar sector who build 650, 655 and 657 mm scale lengths.
The guitar should be adjusted and set correctly. The distance of the strings to the fretboard at the 12th fret is very important for playability. That's where my work is important. I check all my instruments for good playability and – if necessary – have then adjusted perfectly.
You should also pay attention to the neck thickness of guitars. Too thick necks are difficult to play, at least for most guitarists. My builders all work with dimensions that allow easy playing.
Easy playability is at least as important as a good sound. When you find both in one guitar, it's the guitar for you.
The guitar should have tap protection (golpeador) on the soundboard. This is a transparent or white, hard plastic foil, which protects the soundboard against golpes (taps), which are made in many flamenco pieces to emphasize the rhythm (compás).

Which wood for back and sides?
Back and sides of flamenco guitars are made of either cypress or rosewood. These are two very different wood species that differ as follows:

Cypress
This is a southern European hardwood, which came mainly from Spain until a few years ago. Due to its current scarcity, it became a protected species several years ago and the trees may no longer be felled.
Cypress is the wood always used traditionally for flamenco guitars. It was preferred at the beginnings of flamenco guitars because it was inexpensive and light. In addition, the sound is very bright and clear and provides a very beautiful contrast to the raw voice of a singer and the hard staccato of a dancer. Inexpensive was important, because most flamenco musicians were poor devils and could not afford an expensive instrument. Light was important, because flamenco guitars were not supported by a leg in the past, but instead were suspended on the left in the air and only held in place by the pressure of the right arm; as a result, they could not be heavy or top-heavy, which is the reason why wooden pegs were used that weigh less than a machine head.

Rosewood
This wood comes mainly from South America, Africa or Asia such as the famous Rio rosewood, which has been a protected species since 1992, or Indian rosewood, which has always been one of the preferred rosewoods of guitar building. Rosewood became popular in guitar building when flamenco guitar developed from an accompaniment to a solo instrument. Paco de Lucia was one of the first guitarists, who specialized in solo playing in flamenco. Of course, the demands that a soloist makes on his/her instrument differ from those of an accompanist. The instrument should sound longer and assert itself in a concert hall. As a result, people starting building modified classical guitars. Dark woods were used, but the light construction of flamenco guitars was maintained to let the guitars still sound sharp and crisp despite rosewood. Today, many exotic woods are used due to shortages on the tonewood market. Among others, these include cocobolo, coralwood, palo escrito, koa, flame maple, quilted maple, sugar maple, Bolivian rosewood (pau ferro), caviuna, ziricote and many more. (see the"About wood" section). It is important that the wood is sufficiently rigid to sound crystal clear despite the thin construction.
Many guitar builders have also been using domestic rosewoods such as cherry, walnut, olive, mulberry, etc. Very good sound results can also been achieved with these woods.

Which wood for whom?

Cypress still has the typical flamenco sound, sharp including in the trebles. However, guitar building craftsmanship has developed enormously over the past decades, and many cypresses handcrafted by masters are loud and penetrating today. Examples of this are the guitars from Andrés D. Marvi and José Marín Plazuelo. In addition to their typical area of use as accompaniment for dancers and singers, they can be seen increasingly in performances, especially since hardly anyone still plays today without amplification.
A typical rosewood guitar is somewhat louder and has a deeper basic sound, but also weighs more. Whoever prefers light handling is better off with a cypress guitar or maybe even one made of maple. A pure soloist often feels better with a rosewood guitar, especially if he/she also wants to play Latin jazz, Spanish classic, bossa nova or something similar. The dark, velvety sound of the rosewood guitar fits better there.

Spruce or cedar soundboard?
In the 60s, Ramirez built guitars mainly with cedar soundboard. Famous guitar builders such as Gerundino and Miguel Rodriguez also built many guitars with cedar soundboard. Conde Hermanos broke with this tradition and mainly built spruce soundboards. Today, cedar has a reputation of being not good for flamenco. I consider that a gross error. I believe that many guitar builders have not learned to construct cedar soundboards correctly. They use much too soft cedar soundboards for flamenco guitars and then are surprised when the instruments sound too classical. There is nothing more beautiful than a really dirty-sounding cedar guitar from Gerundino or Miguel Rodriguez from the 60s and 70s. There are still guitar builders today who are capable of building cedar guitars with an unbelievable flamenco sound. These include Andrés D. Marvi and Francisco Barba. In general, cedar sounds dirtier, raspier and more powerful, often with a very dark, powerful bass. On the other hand, spruce soundboards sound finer, sweeter, somewhat more ringing in treble. Spruce soundboards have had a much stronger development. I would be happy if guitarists would use cedar soundboards more in the future. Vicente Amigo made the start. He played a cypress built by Lester de Voe with a cedar soundboard on one of his recent CDs (Paseo de Gracia).

 

Solid wood or laminated?
Actual practice demonstrates that a laminated wood guitar need not necessarily sound worse than a solid wood guitar. The soundboards are almost always made of solid wood, and consequently the heart of the guitar is made of solid wood and that's the decisive factor. You should make certain that the soundboard is made of solid wood. Solid wood guitars usually cost more than 1,000 euros; this is due to the increasing wood prices and the fact that an increasing number of species are no longer available due to conservation laws and scarcity. Soon there will not be any Spanish cypress anymore, and most good cypress already comes from Italy and Turkey today. Consequently, you can ignore the question of solid wood or laminated with a clear conscience for beginner guitars.

Wooden pegs or machine head?
All flamenco guitars were traditionally built with wooden pegs (tuning pegs). The reason was that they were hardly any affordable machine heads at the beginning of the 20th century on one hand, and on the other hand guitar builders could construct these pegs themselves. The guitars were then also less top-heavy and consequently easier to play in the traditional way of holding guitars, in which the guitar was not lain across a leg. With the rise of the metalworking industry, there were more and more good and affordable machine heads, which resulted in more of them being used instead of wooden pegs. Today, you can almost only get wooden pegs by ordering them, although very good tools exist in the meantime with which you can create a perfect fit between hole and peg. Hardly anyone can still deal with wooden pegs. It has become something for collectors and traditionalists. Still, I have to admit that wooden peg guitars often sound better compared with an instrument of the same series with machine head. This is a phenomenon that many guitar builders also confirm.

French polish or lacquer?
This is a question that has created a lot of heated discussions among guitarists for decades. Use of industrially produced nitro lacquer started at the end of the 60s. Before that, the traditional shellac procedure was used almost exclusively, in which a natural product (secretion of a certain louse species) was applied in many layers using a ball. Shellac is thinner and much more sensitive compared to lacquer. In shellac, you see any nail imprint despite how light immediately as a depression in the finish; on the other hand, you have to use a lot of force to make a golpe visible in lacquer. As a result, nitro lacquer of course found favor with many guitarists. The guitars finally did not look totally worn out after a few years of playing. Nitro lacquer has been mainly replaced by two-component lacquer for health reasons today. The use of nitro lacquer is even forbidden in many countries.
However, lacquer not only has the effect of protecting the surface better, it also affects the sound very much. During my many years of work as guitar dealer, I have had many guitars restored at customer requests and thereby had shellac changed to lacquer and lacquer to shellac. These changes all had one thing in common: the instruments sounded completely different afterward. With shellac on the end product, the treble usually changed; it become somewhat more open and ringing, but the overall of the impression was that it also lost some pressure. With lacquer as the end product, the bass become somewhat more powerful and the treble somewhat drier. But this was only when a thin lacquer was used. With thick lacquer, the guitar usually lost a lot of overtones and sound.
You can almost always detect precisely these sound qualities in new instruments. Shellac guitars usually sound richer in overtones, more ringing and varied, but also usually have a touch of classic. Lacquer guitars sound coarser with stronger basses and drier trebles. However, professional flamenco guitarists still get sufficient sound from the treble with lacquer guitars too, while those coming from classical guitar prefer the shellac guitars because they are accustomed to the strong treble of classical guitars. Two types of guitars for different characters of guitarists.
As is often the case, reality proves theory wrong in this case too. There are also lacquer guitars rich in overtones and shellac guitars with strong basses. There is just no absolute truth here.
Whoever is fussy about his guitar and cannot live with traces of playing in the finish should buy a lacquer guitar in any case.

Which strings for a flamenco guitar?
The best string for flamenco guitars in general does not exist. Each string sounds different on another guitar. You should not play using extremely hard strings, because the danger exists that the often thinly constructed neck becomes distorted. Hard strings are okay as well as carbon stings, but no extra hard strings if possible. The brand does not matter; each person should try them out for him/herself. The same applies to the tension. I always sent extra low tension strings to Moraito in Jerez in the 90s, because he could not get them there and wanted to play on stage with the most low tension strings that existed. Other pros prefer hard tension. Every person must discover his/her own preferences here. Strings that I sell in my shop are my personal recommendation. Before you switch to higher tension strings, first try to change your right-hand technique and play closer to the bridge. You will see that the guitar automatically becomes harder and snaps back less.

What is the difference between a classical guitar and flamenco guitar?
A flamenco guitar is built lighter and has a more comfortable string position. Back and side thicknesses of a flamenco guitar are built substantially thinner than in a classical guitar. The sides are not as deep as in classical guitars either. However, I do not like flat sides, because that makes the sound too thin. The more comfortable string position is achieved thanks to the flatter neck angle. The ideal dimensions of a flamenco guitar are as follows:
At the 12th fret, the distance from the upper edge of the fretboard to the lower edge at the bass is approx. 2.8 mm. At the bridge, the distance between the upper edge of the tap protection and the lower edge of strings is approx. 8 mm. These dimensions can be bigger or smaller. If the dimensions are smaller, the string position is lower and the guitar is easier to play, but snaps back faster when you play with power, which generates a rasping that many find disturbing. Flamenco guitarists usually do not mind the raspy sound.
In addition, flamenco guitarists usually play rather far back near the bridge with the right hand. The action is harder there, and the guitar produces less rasping even with powerful playing.
Most classical guitars have 5 to 6 mm distance from fretboard to string at the 12th fret. That is of course too high for real flamenco playing. This can be lowered only if the neck angle is not to steep. Because most classical guitars have a very steep neck angle, they cannot be adjusted to a flamenco position.
A real flamenco guitar should have tap protection (golpeador) on the soundboard. This is a transparent or white, hard plastic foil, which protects the soundboard against golpes (taps), which are made in many flamenco pieces to emphasize the rhythm (compás).
Classical guitars usually sound somewhat more neutral than flamenco guitars and consequently can only be used conditionally for flamenco.

 

Top-Gitarren

New incomings

Prices are final prices. Plus shipping costs.
  • Lester DeVoe, Indian Rosewood/Spruce 2016
    reserved
    Lester DeVoe, Indian Rosewood/Spruce 2016
    8.300 €
  • Conde Media Luna, cypress/spruce 1997
    sold
    Conde Media Luna, cypress/spruce 1997
    3.900 €
  • Pedro Maldonado 1a, cypress/spruce 1994
    reduced
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    2.490 €
  • Lester DeVoe, Indian Rosewood/spruce 2014
    in stock
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  • Ernest Köröskènyi, Indian Rosewood/Spruce 1977
    reduced
    Ernest Köröskènyi, Indian Rosewood/Spruce 1977
    2.990 €
  • José López Bellido, flamed maple/spruce 2007
    in stock
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    3.500 €
  • Jeronimo Pérez, ind. Rosewood/spruce_2017
    in stock
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    3.900 €
  • Jeronimo Pérez, ind. Rosewood/spruce_2017
    in stock
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  • Graciliano Perez, Indian Rosewood/Cedar 2017
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  • Dominik Wurth, Cypress/Spruce 2016
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  • Conde Atocha, Media Luna Indian/spruce 2015
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  • Paulino Bernabe, Cypress/Spruce 2013
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  • Miguel Rodriguez, Cypress/Spruce 1954
    in stock
    Miguel Rodriguez, Cypress/Spruce 1954
    8.900 €
  • Conde Atocha, Media Luna cypress/spruce 2016
    in stock
    Conde Atocha, Media Luna cypress/spruce 2016
    3.600 €
  • Conde Media Luna, Rosewood/Spruce 1994
    in stock
    Conde Media Luna, Rosewood/Spruce 1994
    3.500 €
  • José González López, Ind. Rosewood/Spruce 2016
    in stock
    José González López, Ind. Rosewood/Spruce 2016
    3.900 €
  • Lester DeVoe, Cypress/cedar 2015
    sold
    Lester DeVoe, Cypress/cedar 2015
    9.500 €

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