FAQs about Classical Guitars - Discussion

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
ssamac

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by ssamac » Thu Dec 15, 2011 2:23 am

One question that comes up often is whether or not to keep the guitar in the case or not. Many people feel that the guitar should be left out to "breathe" and that you lose some sound if it's pent up in the case all the time.
I guess another good follow up is how often must it come out of the case and for how long to prevent the guitar from getting "stale"

Your thoughts would be appreciated

Thanks
sam

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James Lister
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Re: FAQs about Classical Guitars - Discussion

Post by James Lister » Sat Dec 24, 2011 12:28 pm

I always recommend to my customers that they keep their guitar in a case whenever it's not being played. I don't think it affects the sound whether or not it's kept in the case, provided the humidity is OK wherever it's kept. More important is that it's protected from accidental damage. Some players prefer to keep their guitars to hand so that they can pick them up at any time, but I prefer to have them safe, and just spend a few extra seconds (carefully) taking them out of their case.

Playing the guitar regularly is far more important than taking it out for a breather!

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

OldPotter
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Re: FAQs about Classical Guitars - Discussion

Post by OldPotter » Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:50 pm

A big thankyou to whoever rearranged the layout of the FAQ's, both parts are entirely relevant but it was hard to find the detail in all the other posts.
If it was yourself James, I hope it wasn't too time consuming.

Thanks again, kind regards & best wishes for Christmas.

Tim
"When I was younger, I could remember almost everything, whether it happened or not." Mark Twain

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George Crocket
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Re: FAQs about Classical Guitars - Discussion

Post by George Crocket » Sat Dec 24, 2011 4:52 pm

Tim, it was mainly James, aided by one or two others who did this work. It's quite a step forward.
George
2010 Stephen Eden spruce/cocobolo classical guitar
2012 Stephen Eden cedar/IRW classical guitar

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Eric Reid
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Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by Eric Reid » Mon Jan 09, 2012 5:53 pm

James Lister wrote: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.


James
In addition to the increased stiffness, there may be decreased uniformity of the string. At least, that's what I was told by a string manufacturer. He said that the "carbon" strings that many companies offer are a flourocarbon rather than nylon, and are inherently more difficult to extrude evenly. That explained the erratic intonation I've observed in "carbon" strings--I can adjust the saddle for excellent intonation on one set of strings, but when I put on a new set of the same brand, the intonation is off. D'Addario is a little coy about what their "composite" G string is made of. I'm pretty sure there's not any metal involved--just some sort of plastic that's a little stiffer than Nylon. At any rate, the compensation it requires may vary more than Nylon does. That said, even a Nylon G string will usually benefit from some additional compensation. Hill Co. doesn't put any G string compensation in their bridge saddles. You could try a compensated saddle, and see if it helps.

Vorpa

Build from a kit.

Post by Vorpa » Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:51 pm

Cary W wrote:Can a first-time builder order a kit and assemble something at least playable?
This is a fascinating 12 part utube series by a guy who builds his wife a guitar for Christmas. It's the first one he's ever built and he purchases a kit to do it. He makes one huge mistake that he manages to correct and in the end he's made a terrific guitar. However, the guy has quite a workshop to begin with, so he's no amateur woodworker.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5M7Qpzu ... er&list=UL

strumalong

Re: FAQs about Classical Guitars - Discussion

Post by strumalong » Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:32 am

Dear James

What is the importance of fret height? Are low frets or high frets easier to play? Is it at all related to the height of the strings?

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Vlad Kosulin
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Re: FAQs about Classical Guitars - Discussion

Post by Vlad Kosulin » Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:44 pm

strumalong wrote:Dear James

What is the importance of fret height? Are low frets or high frets easier to play? Is it at all related to the height of the strings?
High frets are usually easier for left hand.
Regards,
Vlad
(still testing various strings with 2006 Sebastian Stenzel and Olinda OC-300)

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James Lister
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Re: FAQs about Classical Guitars - Discussion

Post by James Lister » Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:01 am

Thanks for replying to this one Vlad.

I would just add that it comes down to personal preference really. Some players prefer low frets, some high. I know I prefer low frets, but this is probably partly because I always press the string down onto the fingerboard, which isn't strictly necessary, but is obviously harder with higher frets. Players with more left hand control than I have will only press with just enough pressure to get a clear note.

James
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rob1953

Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by rob1953 » Sat Apr 07, 2012 4:57 pm

James Lister wrote: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
Hi James,

In response to your post regarding drying out my Camacho I put my guitar in my small bedroom with a small dehumidifier (my idea). Alas this didn't work. The humidity always ranged from 69% to 78% and the top remained 'distorted'. A few weeks ago I switched the dehumidifier off, took the guitar out of it's case, loosened the strings and placed it on a guitar stand. I then opened the bedroom windows and the humidity dropped from between 51% to 60% during the night and from 41% to 50% during the day, mostly below 50%.

Camacho used cross bracing and part of the 'distortion' was an upside down V shape immediately below the rosette. ( I mentioned in an earlier post that the top appeared to follow the contours of the bracing. ) I am pleased to inform you that this part of the 'distortion' is now so much less prominent that it has become barely noticeable, which is a massive difference. The 'distortion' from the bridge down to the base is less 'corrugated' ( or wavy as I previously described it ) and is gradually smoothing out. Only time will tell if the top recovers completely. I keep all the windows open during the day and only the small window open during sleeping hours. The guitar remains on the stand throughout. Do you have any thoughts on this method?

Thank you ever so much for your worldly advice James and I hope you and your family are having a lovely Easter.

Kindest regards

Rob

jkircoff

Re: FAQs about Classical Guitars - Discussion

Post by jkircoff » Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:39 pm

I've noticed that most classical guitars do not come with truss rods. Is this because using a truss rod is not considered traditional, or does the truss rod negatively impact the sound of the instrument?

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James Lister
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Re: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by James Lister » Thu Apr 19, 2012 8:24 am

rob1953 wrote: I am pleased to inform you that this part of the 'distortion' is now so much less prominent that it has become barely noticeable, which is a massive difference. The 'distortion' from the bridge down to the base is less 'corrugated' ( or wavy as I previously described it ) and is gradually smoothing out. Only time will tell if the top recovers completely. I keep all the windows open during the day and only the small window open during sleeping hours. The guitar remains on the stand throughout. Do you have any thoughts on this method?
Rob
Hi Rob,

I'm glad the distortion has improved somewhat. There's no problem with your method - it's really just a question of getting the humidity down, it doesn't matter too much how you do it, as long as it's not too fast, and doesn't get too dry (for your guitar, I think any less than 45% might be risky). At this stage I would guess it might never competely "recover", but don't be too worried about a little deformation. I often say that if the top of a classical guitar looks perfectly flat, then it's probably overbuilt. If the deformation has reduced significantly, and the action is OK with the strings up to tension, then just try to keep it at <60%, and see how it plays.

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

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James Lister
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Re: FAQs about Classical Guitars - Discussion

Post by James Lister » Thu Apr 19, 2012 8:28 am

jkircoff wrote:I've noticed that most classical guitars do not come with truss rods. Is this because using a truss rod is not considered traditional, or does the truss rod negatively impact the sound of the instrument?
If you do a search on the forum, you'll find some discussions about truss rods and other neck reinforcements for classical guitars. Here's one to get you started:

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=60669

...and there are quite a few others.

Generally, classical guitars need truss rods less than steel string guitars, because the string tension is considerably lower. However, some classical makers still think they're a good idea as they can be used to compensate for movement in the neck due to environmental changes.

James
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AKGuitarist

Re: FAQs about Classical Guitars - Discussion

Post by AKGuitarist » Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:45 am

I don't know if this has been covered or not, but cautious should I be about French Polish? My next guitar is going to have a French Polish top and I am curious about what precautions that I should take.

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Re: FAQs about Classical Guitars - Discussion

Post by James Lister » Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:11 am

AKGuitarist wrote:I don't know if this has been covered or not, but cautious should I be about French Polish? My next guitar is going to have a French Polish top and I am curious about what precautions that I should take.
French polish is not as robust a finish as modern lacquers, and it will not resist the usual nail marks as well. Another issue is that not all shellac finishes are the same - a lot depends on the type of shellac used, and how the polish is prepared and applied. Generally though, I'd say you just need to take reasonable care to avoid accidental damage. I'd also recommend always wearing long sleeves when playing, particularly on hot/humid days. There are stories of some players who's perspiration could eat through shellac pretty quickly!

James
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