Which guitar is the goto composing guitar?

Theory and practice of composition and arranging for classical guitar, discussion of works in progress, etc.
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Composers' Workshop
Theory and practice of composition and arranging for classical guitar, discussion of works in progress, etc.

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Which guitar is the goto composing guitar?

Post by faith » Sat Sep 13, 2014 9:18 pm

I recently realized that since I rarely compose on my Ramirez classical, the songs I write don't always "fit" well into this guitar's classical timbre. In fact some songs sound awful on this guitar. It seems mostly these would be tunes where the melody falls in lower frequencies.

Most of my compositions are done on a Taylor spruce topped steel string (814CE). They also sound very good on my cedar topped Taylor (nylon string) NS72CE.

When I compose I have never really thought about which guitar the song was going to be played on. Maybe there are certain frequencies or strings (1-3) that lends themselves to the melody line on classical guitars.

I was going to post a recording of a recent composition for critique, but realized the Ramirez simply wouldn't work.

Has anybody run into this before?


Re: Which guitar is the goto composing guitar?

Post by delayedMusician » Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:03 pm

reality is, no one cares about what you or I use. Use whatever feels best, you are getting too bogged down with trivial details, cedar top etc...I used to do this with guitar amplifiers, I was obsessed, it was like a eating disorders or something. Focus on the real goal: music

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Re: Which guitar is the goto composing guitar?

Post by Craig » Tue Oct 28, 2014 1:47 pm

faith wrote:Has anybody run into this before?
Have found this too. Started with a 30 year old steel string (with 30 year old strings). No nails. All rest strokes. Numerous simple melodies, some with 2nd voice. Some (at least some folks thought so) were enjoyable.

Then got CG, grew nails, ... at least half of these sound poorly on CG. The problem is mainly in the top 3 strings. Their timbre and sustain are very different.

Depending on the nature of a composition, it may very well depend on a specific type of instrument. It may only blossom in the right environment...
2013 Hippner Spruce/BRW 8-string

Stephen Lee

Re: Which guitar is the goto composing guitar?

Post by Stephen Lee » Sat Nov 07, 2015 12:40 am

As I have tried many different guitars (traditional closed and opened fan-braced, square and diamond lattice, double top, as well other classified and modified guitars), finally, it ends up with some criteria that are necessary for composer to compose or imagine in guitar.

Those are :

-Consistency of different guitars which are same model of guitar
-Long natural sustain
-Well tempered pitch
-Well balanced tone volume
-Well balanced tone colour
-Natural and well balanced volume changes in one note
-Stable pitch in one note
-Well balanced and wide range of dynamic and tone colour shift, yet easiness to stick with the same and shift smoothly (as these will contribute to repetition consistency and gradation smoothness)

And I found that Alma Guitar (made by Kim Hee Hong), are superb in regard to those criteria necessary for composing guitar music.
One example of its consistency is this : When I tried his Alma Legend on Bangkok, and then he shipped new different Alma Legend guitar to my home in Indonesia, the new guitar sounded same as another one I tried on Bangkok. Both of them had the same quality, and both of them fulfill all criteria above in same quality. What a consistency !

Then I started to buy some since some of my friends were looking for consistent instrument, which their needs could be fulfilled by Kim's guitar.

Good news is, fellows here could contact me to get discounted price of his guitar

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Re: Which guitar is the goto composing guitar?

Post by Catire » Sat Nov 07, 2015 12:41 am

The one at hand, comes to mind.
"The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible." - Oscar Wilde

Stephen Lee

Re: Which guitar is the goto composing guitar?

Post by Stephen Lee » Sat Nov 07, 2015 10:01 am

Catire wrote:The one at hand, comes to mind.
Exactly right

When I was composing in past, at first I tried to compose on "bass dominant volume" and "bass dominant tone colour" guitar. It is difficult to find single notes and difficult to find chord.

Then I tried on "treble dominant tone colour" and highly-separated-note guitar. It is easy to find single notes, but difficult to decide notes contribute on a chord I am looking for.

Then I tried balanced guitar, which covers most aspects with neutral default and wide options, I easily could recognize which note, chord, phrase and many more that I should take.

Both guitars which represent their own dominancies, are not giving widest options available. They tend to hide some aspects and show their own strengths. Nuances are leaded to their own strengths, not to the music, since the guitars are not in balanced state.

On my early days of composing, I used to think, that I should take no care on what guitar I was using to compose. But, many stucks on composing progress and hesitation on taking and done decisions led me to anxiety and writer's block.

Then I tried to use well-balanced guitar for next composing session, and every spots became obvious. The sounds which the well-balanced guitar produced were so neutral, lead me to discover more options and convince more deeply on telling which decision is more appropriate to be chosen.

Since then, I compose mainly on well-balanced guitar, and understand that it is important to care on what guitar I am using to compose.

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