FAQs about Classical Guitars - Discussion

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
MichaelBo

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by MichaelBo » Mon Aug 02, 2010 5:51 pm

Cary - That Stella was made by Harmony. Depending on the model, in fair shape, these days they go for $200 to $500. Archtops are preferred. With a bowed neck, this guitar might still bring $100. I just picked up an archtop that was made in 1941; it has a perfect neck. I plan on refurbishing the same as you. Please let us know how things go.

User avatar
James Lister
Luthier
Posts: 7081
Joined: Fri Nov 17, 2006 3:53 pm
Location: Sheffield, UK

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by James Lister » Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:12 pm

Hi Michael,
MichaelBo wrote: Item #10: I have tried a lot of strings and finally settled on D'Addaio Pro Arte (though I'm always experimenting). I use hard tension for my Kenny Hill and mediums for my Ramirez. My question is regarding the extra G string provided in these string sets. One G string is the regular plastic but the second is the composite (I think it might use some type of metal blended with the plastic). I found that when I use the composite G string (the one that is a tan color), my Hill guitar's intonation is adversely affected. That is, the G string when tuned at the open position is very sharp in the upper frets. When I replace that string with the clear, regular, G string the intonation is once again spot on (or as close to it as can be expected). I suspect it's because the composite string is harder and when fretted it raises the pitch because of its increased tension. I don't have this problem with the medium tension strings; actions are the same of both guitars. Do you have experience with these strings? If so, have you had the same problem? Do you think my diagnosis is correct?
It's mostly the increased stiffness of the composite string that causes the intonation problem. The amount of compensation required for each string depends on both the amount the tension changes when it is fretted (which is largely dependant on the action), and on the stiffness of the string. It should be possible to adjust the compensation at the saddle to correct it, but it will never be perfect for both types of string.
MichaelBo wrote:Item #15: I really like my Kenny Hill Hauser '37 but something he wrote about them on his website makes me curious. This guitar is finished via the French polish method and he states that he puts "hundreds or thousands" of coats of lacquer on the guitar. I've always thought that would be a lot of coats and reckoned he meant each swirl of a circular pattern constituted one coat. Maybe that would explain it. But now I see where you wrote that each coat must be dry before the next is applied. Maybe this is a dumb question, and maybe Kenny is jokingly exaggerating and trying to make the point that he spends a lot of time doing this finish, but how can you put hundreds or especially thousands of coats on a guitar and still get it out the door to the customer within 1-3 months?
There has always been some confusion when describing the amount of Shellac applied to a guitar in the French polishing process. I tend to try to talk about sessions these days - I might spend about an hour on one session to do the whole guitar, and the drying time required is between sessions. I can only assume that Kenny is (as you suggested) talking about the total number of passes over each part of the guitar, and this is something I've never tried to estimate, but it would certainly be many hundreds (not sure about thousands though).

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

User avatar
Dragonbones
Posts: 304
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2009 3:01 pm
Location: Taibei, Taiwan

Re:

Post by Dragonbones » Tue Aug 10, 2010 9:05 am

Reis wrote:I actually wrote an article on this very topic. I hope you guys find it useful.

http://www.luthierguitars.com/v1/files/Buyers-Guide.pdf
Great FAQ James, and great article, Reis. However, I'd be interested in an expanded description of the “Understanding the Designs” section of the http://www.luthierguitars.com/v1/files/Buyers-Guide.pdf. Everyone is always saying this or that guitar is a Fleta, Hauser, Torres etc. copy, and I hope to learn a bit more about how these designs affect tone, volume etc. so that I’m better educated when I go guitar shopping. The pdf only has ‘traditional’ (including Hauser) and ‘modern’ (Smallman/Humphrey; bright, pianistic), which isn’t a lot of info on this particular matter. If anyone could direct me toward a well-written overview somewhere here on Delcamp or elsewhere, I'd be interested, thanks! (Yes, I do realize that the bottom line is getting out there and playing the available guitars and picking one that's playable and sounds great -- I just want to have a little better background so that I don't return a blank stare when the seller calls something a Romanillos (or whatever) copy.)
Pleasure is spread through the earth In stray gifts to be claimed by whoever shall find. —William Wordsworth

2008 Sergio Huerta concierto,
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Rob Graft

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by Rob Graft » Mon Sep 06, 2010 1:29 am

This was very helpful. Thanks!!
I really liked the link on how to change the strings. :)

Jimtl

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by Jimtl » Mon Sep 20, 2010 1:52 am

Thaks for the great info!

Duk Lee

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by Duk Lee » Sat Nov 27, 2010 5:32 am

What a great information you have here! Thanks, James.

-duk

Robert Goodwin

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by Robert Goodwin » Sun Dec 26, 2010 5:48 am

Thank you for your informative FAQ.

I have a lovely new Cordoba guitar that I want to care for properly. In searching the net, I found one pro guitarist who says that you should always loosen the strings when you are finished playing. The more I think about this, the more it seems like the idea of repeated tightening and loosening would produce fatigue symptoms in the neck and maybe the body. Could you please comment on this and any other maintenance tips for long life.

User avatar
James Lister
Luthier
Posts: 7081
Joined: Fri Nov 17, 2006 3:53 pm
Location: Sheffield, UK

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by James Lister » Sun Dec 26, 2010 4:58 pm

bobg wrote: I found one pro guitarist who says that you should always loosen the strings when you are finished playing.
Short answer - no, it really isn't necessary.

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

Hannah Kim

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by Hannah Kim » Tue Dec 28, 2010 3:56 am

Thank you, James, for the great posting!
You've broadened my knowledge on CG :)
You've helped me with many of the questions that I have left unanswered!

whalewale

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by whalewale » Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:17 pm

I noticed i had seen the name "James Lister" somewhere.... I just remembered i play one of your guitars at Forsyth Manchester some days back. Nice work you have there...Awesome guitar..

rob1953

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by rob1953 » Fri May 13, 2011 10:52 am

Nice Q and A thread. You describe the damage that could be caused to a guitar if it is not kept to a relevant humidity eg, the wood splitting. However, what damage if any could be caused to a guitar if kept in a place where the humidity was excessive?

User avatar
James Lister
Luthier
Posts: 7081
Joined: Fri Nov 17, 2006 3:53 pm
Location: Sheffield, UK

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by James Lister » Fri May 13, 2011 2:28 pm

rob1953 wrote:Nice Q and A thread. You describe the damage that could be caused to a guitar if it is not kept to a relevant humidity eg, the wood splitting. However, what damage if any could be caused to a guitar if kept in a place where the humidity was excessive?
Depends what you mean by excessive...

High humidity is much less of a risk than low. As the wood absorbs moisture, it will expand, causing the arch of the top (and the back) to increase, which may effect the action, and most guitars become a bit dull sounding when the top absorbs too much water, but everything should recover once the humidity drops again. Ultimately, there is a risk of some permanent deformation (if the wood gets really wet), and of the guitar coming apart as the glue joints give way (depending on the type of glue used).

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

rob1953

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by rob1953 » Sat May 14, 2011 8:35 am

Thank you for your reply James. My guitar is a 1990 Vicente Camacho which I purchased in 1991. From around 1997, due to personal problems, I stored it in it's case for months at a time, winter and summer, in a cupboard which had one external wall and which may have been susceptible to damp. The spruce top, from the bottom of the soundhole rosette and down past the bridge to the base, is now 'wavy' to about a width of approximately 12 cm across the middle of the top. The rest of the top is still flat. There are no signs of any other deformity in the guitar or of the glue joints giving way. I didn't loosen the strings whenever the guitar was being stored. Could the combination of dampness and/or string tension have contributed to this warping and 'fingers crossed' could the top recover?

Rob

User avatar
James Lister
Luthier
Posts: 7081
Joined: Fri Nov 17, 2006 3:53 pm
Location: Sheffield, UK

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by James Lister » Sun Jun 05, 2011 8:49 pm

Hi Rob,

Sorry for the slow reply - only just picked this one up. Very difficult to tell exactly what's happened, and what will happen next, without actually seeing the guitar. Let it dry out a bit (but not too fast) and let us know what happens.

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

rob1953

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by rob1953 » Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:14 pm

Hi James. Thank you so much for your response to my guitar problem. Being uneducated in such matters could you please advise me on what steps I should take to enable my guitar dry out slowly.

With Appreciation,

Rob.

Return to “Luthiers”