29.02.-17.03.2024 i will be in Spain searching guitars. During this time my shop will be closed.
Interesting things you should know before you purchase a guitar
More than 50% of my customers have their guitar shipped to them. In Germany i ship with DHL Premium, i.e., the guitar is picked up from me in the evening and is delivered the next day in all of Germany. In Germany this is free of shipping charges for you.
If you want to be send a guitar outside of Germany, please ask for the price of shipping. Export shipping i release with Fedex or TNT.
The transport is fully insured. I ship in special boxes, which I have made specifically for me, boxes with three-layer thickness. The box is lined with polystyrene inside, and air-cushion foil prevents the guitar from moving in the box. Our cases are very robust, and the guitar strings are tuned down a bit for transport, so that the guitar is not subject to tension if the box receives a blow.
Consequently, you see that I do everything in my power to provide you with your guitar intact. Your satisfaction is very important to me.
Many guitarists certainly ask themselves this question. I would not buy a guitar on Ebay, because I have no right of return, do not get any advice and do not know from where the guitar really is.
If you see a second-hand guitar on my website, you can be certain that I have checked it for proper frets, warped neck, static defects and of course for very good sound. Cheaper on Ebay is usually more expensive afterward, because you might purchase a guitar from a layperson who has no idea what can happen to a guitar over the years.
You can have guitars, which are in the range up to 2,000 euros, shipped without worrying what can happen to them during transport. You get good advice from me on the phone and if I see that you have a clear tendency for a certain guitar type, then I usually can pick precisely the right one for you. Guitars that I have sent are rarely returned. Customer satisfaction with instruments ordered from me via the Internet is 99%.
If you are looking for a very expensive instrument, then I recommend that you come by personally, because the selection of high-end instruments is very big in my shop and it pays to pick out your dream guitar yourself when you invest such a large sum.
First of all, you have the normal guarantee as stipulated by law in Europe. One year guarantee and one year warranty. But I do not make it so easy for myself. I also guarantee you beyond this time that I will have any damages caused by faulty workmanship repaired free of charge. This is either done in Germany by a guitar builder I trust or directly in Spain at the guitar builder when greater repairs are required. You advantage here too is that I am in Spain every 1-2 months and can have such repairs done on site.
Cracks in guitars are mostly caused by faulty storage of instruments. Unfortunately, way too many guitarists do not pay attention to safe storage of their instrument in a case. Most wood damage occurs in winter due to too dry air. Then a crack can develop quickly. Of course, if something like that happens, the guitar builder cannot be held responsible. He built the guitar for 50% humidity, and it is your responsibility to ensure that the guitar is not in a stand at 30% humidity in your living room for days on end. Not guitar can withstand that. Of course, I ensure high-quality repairs in such cases. You are only charged the repair costs, because I do not want to earn any money on this.
I recently helped a customer to get a 10-year-old, high-quality guitar from Granada, which had a warped neck, repaired free of charge. I took it along to Granada and was able to have the guitar builder repair it free of charge as a service, because he knows me well. I normally work with guitar builders, whom I have known for many years and of whom I know that they only work dry woods and pay attention to the correct humidity at the time of assembling the guitar. There are never problems with repairs, and I often get them done free of charge; when not, the costs usually stay within limits and do not become a nightmare even if it was your fault.
If you have decided to buy a specific instrument after I have given you detailed advice on the phone or per e-mail, you should send me an e-mail or letter in which you state your intention to order this specific instrument. Include your complete address and a phone number, at which I can reach you during the day. I need this in case a few questions must still be clarified and I cannot reach you per e-mail. In addition, matters can be discussed more quickly and efficiently on the phone than in writing.
Then I send you an invoice per e-mail or snail mail, and you transfer the money to my account.
As soon as the money is on my account, I send you the guitar free of shipping charges. Please confirm the perfect condition of the guitar as soon as you have received it. Report any transport damages to me immediately, so that I can deal with that. If you are satisfied with the instrument, I am satisfied too.
If you are not satisfied, send me the instrument back as soon as possible, and indicate whether you want the purchase price refunded or another instrument sent.
As soon as I have received the guitar and checked that it is in perfect condition, I refund you the purchase price or send you another instrument.
If you have questions or need clarification about the instrument, which you received, or are not satisfied with something else, contact me first before you return the instrument. Matters can often be handled without red tape and doubts can be eliminated by explanations. I consider dealing with problems without red tape to be very important and assure you that there is always a solution, which will satisfy you.
You always have a right of return for instruments, which i have sent you. A guitar is something very individual, and consequently I respect your wish not to keep an instrument. You need not give me any reason for this either, although I would be happy to get feedback about the instrument. Instruments are excluded from the right of return, which you ordered with special dimensions or wood preferences and which were built specifically for you.
The most inexpensive instrument in my shop is currently Mundo Flamenco 2F for 850 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 850 euros. The next category is beginning with the Mundo Flamenco 1F for 1290 Euros in Cypress or Rosewood. All woods are solid and it is hand made in Spain.
Everything that is more expensive is a real professional instrument. 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 Sanchis López 1F Extra. These instruments are built personally by the workshop masters and have many features of a master guitar. Sanchis López 1F Extra 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. 4,900 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.
Consequently, you can see that you can find a suitable instrument for every budget.
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).
Back and sides of flamenco guitars are made of either cypress or rosewood. These are two very different wood species that differ as follows:
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.
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.
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 CD (Paseo de Gracia).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Shellac provides a few advantages compared to other lacquers used in guitar building (nitrocellulose, polyester, etc.) today. It can be applied a lot more thinly and evenly thanks to the French polishing method and is flexible thanks to its components (wax share). As a result, the shellac coating can support the oscillation of the wood without impairing it.
There are unfortunately not only advantages. The resins and waxes, which favor the flexibility of the shellac, cause a higher sensitivity to heat (melting point 60°-100° C depending upon grade), lower hardness and protection against scratches and abrasion, and increased sensitivity to acid (e.g., from human sweat).
A few tips for handling shellac-polished guitars: Cotton or leather cloths protect against scratches from buttons, zippers and belt buckles.
Avoid direct, continuous contact between bare skin and the shellac. Human sweat is acidic and dulls shellac.
Do not hit or tap (golpes) areas without tap protection when playing.
Avoid continuous heat, e.g., due to exposure of the sun, radiators or even continuous body heat. Temperatures of 70° C can result between instrument and body when the guitar is pressed firmly against your body. This softens the shellac, and – in the worst cases – you can suddenly see your shirt pattern depicted on your guitar after a long session in summer. You can avoid this either by not pressing the guitar against your body and by placing a soft cloth between the guitar and you.
Consequently, the following applies in general to shellac if you sweat a lot:
Wipe the guitar using a soft cloth after you play. Do not apply care products containing alcohol in any case. Alcohol dissolves shellac!
This sounds very complicated and time-consuming, but it really is not so. I own a few shellac guitars myself and need relatively little time for their care. I do not play them outdoors or directly in the sun’s rays, wipe them off after playing and do not tap the soundboard in an undisciplined way. They are already many years old and still look good.
This is certainly the finish most easy to care for in daily use, regardless of whether nitrocellulose or two-component lacquer. But it still makes sense to dry the sweat on it now and then after playing. The disadvantage is the impaired oscillation behavior of the soundboard due to the thicker lacquer. In general, you should not apply care products containing alcohol to this lacquer either.
You should also clean the fretboard and strings with a soft cloth now and then after playing. Then the strings do not corrode as quickly, and the fretboard does not become soiled or oily. Most used guitars, which I get, have an ugly layer of dirt on the ebony, which collects due to sweat over the years. This can be prevented by regular drying after playing.
I clean fretboards and the frets using very fine steel wool. Using it, I clean off the film rust on the frets and the dirt on fretboard, and you feel a lot better later when you play. Film rust on the frets impairs your playing, because the strings do not slip as well during legado and the sidetones can be heard.
You should replace bass strings when they become dark at the contact points at the frets due to corrosion or even start to unwind. You can replace only the bass strings several times. I test the treble strings by taking a string between two fingers and sliding along it from top down. It I feel an irregularity somewhere, the string is defect and must be replaced.
Observe the following when you replace strings:
Change strings individually while the remaining ones stay in tune.
No abrupt applying or releasing tension .
Should it be necessary to remove them all at the same time (e.g., during long playing intermissions or transports or cracks occur), it is better for the guitar to string them symmetrically in steps (i.e., first low and high E strings, then A-B and finally D-G).
Secure the treble strings on the bridge side with knots against slipping through. You can also heat the knots, so that they melt a bit before you tune the string.
Apply a drop of normal household oil between worm and pinion gears once or twice per year.
No oil on the finish or wood parts.
Use soap to grease the plastic shafts in the wooden bushes (after removal of pegs)
Occasionally tighten the screws.
When wooden pegs are hard to turn, they need to be treated with peg soap and with peg chalk when they slip. You can get both in a store selling violins.
The guitar should always be stored in a case or a corresponding container. Do not hang it on a wall or leave it in a stand in your room for days on end. Be careful if you have underfloor heating. Do not put cases directly on the floor; they get too warm. Keeping guitars outside of cases often exposes them to substantial fluctuations of humidity. This is especially a danger in winter when it gets very cold outside and heating dries the air inside additionally. That is the most dangerous time for guitars.
A guitar is normally assembled at a controlled humidity of 50%. A guitar starts to dry out at humilities below 45%. You notice that when you run your hand along the side over the frets and feel them. Then the fretboard has contracted due to drying out, and the metal frets stick out. That is the first warning signal for dry air. As a next problem, then the guitar can get shrinkage cracks. They usually occur on the soundboard along the fretboard. The soundboard is generally in danger of developing cracks, because it is very thin. Shrinkage cracks are not covered by guarantee, because they occur due to incorrect storage.
When you take a guitar out of its case, close it immediately again; consequently, the case interior maintains a constant humidity between 50% and 60%. Then you can play for quite some time, even in somewhat drier air, without any worries. When you put the guitar back into the case, it absorbs the lacking moisture from the case interior again.
Purchase a hygrometer. They are available in building materials markets in many countries for the equivalent of approx. 10 euros. Be careful that the humidity does not sink below 40%. In such case, you should use a humidifier or put wet cloths on radiators or even use a special humidifier for the sound hole. These are usually sponges in pipes or rubber tubes, which are moistened at times. But careful! You should not disperse moisten uncontrolled and for longer periods of time. Too much humidity in connection with warmth can cause a guitar to fall apart.
Guitars sound best at approx. 50% humidity. If they are drier, they sound aggressive; it they are moister, they sound weak.
Heat and cold are not a measurement factor for guitars in principle. Beside extreme cold, which is almost always dry, there can be humid and dry heat. Consequently, check the humidity in the summer too, and do not subject the guitar to strong drafts.
When I travel with or ship a guitar, I tune down the strings somewhat. Ten turns on the machine head on all strings suffices. This prevents damage to the guitar if I bump into something with the case or the case falls during transport. The strings have a tension load of approximately 40 kilograms when they are tuned. If there is an accident, that’s a lot of tension that affects the soundboard and the bridge. Secure the guitar in the case by cushioning it with soft cloths too.
If you discover a crack in your guitar, the way of dealing with it depends on where the crack is. A soundboard crack is dangerous if it is in the area of tension between soundboard and bridge. In this case, you should loosen the strings and show the instrument to a specialist. If the crack is not open, it often suffices to apply a bit of bone glue, so that it does develop further; you might reinforce the inside of the soundboard with a bit of wood or cloth lining. If the crack is open, i.e., you can look through, a wood splint is usually inserted and reinforced with a few small wood blocks (diamonds).
In general, all cracks should be shown to a specialist, so that he can decide whether something must be done to prevent something even worse.
The neck has warped. This can happen in two directions. If it warps forward, then the string position is suddenly too high. If this is in an acceptable range, it can be adjusted by filing the bridge insert. If it is too great, then the frets have to be removed, the neck is planed straight and new frets are inserted. This is actually routine work for a guitar builder. If the neck is warped too much forward, the fretboard must be planed almost completely down; a new fretboard is glued on and new frets inserted. If the neck warped back, it is more complicated. You hear how the strings suddenly hit the fretboard a lot, although you did not change anything concerning the string position. You can try to bend it forward again with heat or plane down the fretboard and – depending on the degree of warping – glue on a new fretboard and insert new frets. Necks warp sometimes after many years. That happens on older guitars time and again. There are not many old guitars, on which work has never been done to the neck.