10 String Guitar

Discussion of all aspects of multi-string guitars, namely those with 7 or more strings.
User avatar
attila57
Posts: 288
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:46 am
Location: Budapest, Hungary

Re: 10 String Guitar

Postby attila57 » Fri Sep 30, 2016 6:42 pm

Hi, are you still interested in talking about 10-string guitars?
Music to hear, why hear'st thou music sadly?
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy...

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 8

HNLim
Posts: 2089
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:02 am
Location: Singapore - The City in a Garden

Re: 10 String Guitar

Postby HNLim » Fri Sep 30, 2016 8:16 pm

attila57 wrote:Hi, are you still interested in talking about 10-string guitars?

Isn't this is what this thread is meant for?
1978 Yamaha GC30A - S/BRW
2012 Esteve Adalid - S/BRW
2014 Sen #5 - S/BRW
2016 HNLim - S/BRW-
1974 S.Yairi 950 S/BRW - converted to10-string-2015
HN Lim 14-string - S/BRW - Very close to completion.
1974 S.Yairi 800 : Retired

soltirefa
Posts: 1162
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 3:59 am
Location: Southern California

Re: 10 String Guitar

Postby soltirefa » Fri Sep 30, 2016 9:04 pm

In the spirit of keeping this thread and section alive ...

I have mentioned this before, but I have my 10-string tuned up a whole step to F#. So it's like the Romantic tuning up a whole step. I love it. It sounds very balanced like this and it functions mostly like an altoguitar for the pieces I play. I happen to have it tuned to play in B major, too. I play three pieces in B major (originally D major) and one in E major. The piece in E major does not need the 10th string A# (really B# with my tuning up a whole step), so it works great.

I put together a custom set of strings to accommodate the tuning up to F#. It turns out that the D'Addario light tension J43 strings 1-3 work perfectly for strings 1-3 up to F#, C#, and G# (I have my 3rd string tuned down to the equivalent of F#). The rest of the J43 set for strings 4-6 are a bit too high in tension for me, although they would work if you like really tight strings. For those and the extra basses I used strings sold individually.

User avatar
attila57
Posts: 288
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:46 am
Location: Budapest, Hungary

Re: 10 String Guitar

Postby attila57 » Thu Oct 13, 2016 8:17 pm

Hi, you all,

I think we must have a good reason for having so many strings. On a 10-string guitar I wouldn't play music that is perfectly playable on 6 strings. What about you?

Some guitarists who own multistring instruments simply extend their normal tonal range by adding an occasional bass an octave lower. Some others just use the added resonance of the extra strings. That's OK, but I think the 10-string guitar deserves much more than that! I think it needs its own characteristic music and its own special technique, making use of the greatly increased possibilities.
Music to hear, why hear'st thou music sadly?
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy...

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 8

User avatar
David_Norton
Posts: 3664
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2008 4:12 pm
Location: Salt Lake City, UT, USA

Re: 10 String Guitar

Postby David_Norton » Thu Oct 13, 2016 8:47 pm

attila57 wrote:Hi, you all,

I think we must have a good reason for having so many strings. On a 10-string guitar I wouldn't play music that is perfectly playable on 6 strings. What about you?


And here is the key point. The "good reason for having so many strings" envisioned by Narciso Yepes half-a-century ago was that the extra 4 basses would provide sympathetic resonance to the music being performed on the primary 6 strings. The initial concept was not so much to actually PLAY the lower four, as to have them vibrate sympathetically with the rest of the instrument and thereby create a better, more balanced background. Think of this as a sort of "sustain pedal" idea for the guitar.

In this light, it is worth noting that Yepes' first LP using his 10-string was a collection of 24 studies by Fernando Sor. By using a special design of half-capo (cejilla) covering just the main strings, he was able to convincing play in all 12 key centers, though not 12 major and 12 minor. So here is absolute proof that the initial concept did not involve plucking the lower 4 at all. (NOTE: A downside of this is that, unless listened to via headphones, it is difficult to really hear the overtone resonance of the extra strings on this LP. The player hears them fine, but they do not carry far into the audience).

Of course, in very little time, he started playing the lower 4 anyway. There is a good YT video of him doing the Prelude/Fugue and Bourree from Bach BWV 996, where he is plucking and fretting the 7th string, tuned to B in this case. And in the fullness of time, he reached the point of being able to pluck and even fret strings 8-9-10 on occasion.

Many people felt the Yepes tuning scheme was ineffective, and so have adapted a sort of quasi-lute tuning of ABCD for these low strings. This can work well for certain pieces, but to my ears it creates an imbalanced sound with too much of a compounded A/E/D overtone series going on. Again, this is not really so audible to an audience as it is to the performer.

A key element of the success/failure of the Yepes tuning is the quality of the instrument used, and the scale length. I have owned 3 Tamura 10-strings, and the one I currently possess has a really good resonance in this tuning. It's a 660 scale, so a bit of a beast to play laterally. The other 2 Tamuras were not so good. I owned a 640mm 10-string for a while, and it just did not generate much resonance at all. A very well made guitar, but it didn't do what I'd hoped it would do in that tuning (it would probably be superb in ABCD tuning). I've also owned two 650 sized 10-strings; neither was a particularly well-made instrument so we'll leave it at that.

There's a video on The 10 String Channel on YT of the South African guitarist Viktor Van Niekirk performing in a very large hall on his 664mm size Ramirez. This is a close sister to Yepes' own instrument. The video is done through a phone camera, but the sound and evident horsepower of the guitar are excellent. This supports Van Niekirk's oft-stated dicta that a long scale length, very high action, and a world-class builder are all needed to "make it work right". It certainly works well for him.
David Norton
Salt Lake City, UT

User avatar
attila57
Posts: 288
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:46 am
Location: Budapest, Hungary

Re: 10 String Guitar

Postby attila57 » Mon Dec 26, 2016 10:23 pm

Hi David,
That's interesting. I know that the whole point of the Yepes tuning is the balanced resonance, but I still feel the urge to play the lower strings, too. In fact, I play my 10-string instrument as if it were a 7-string guitar with 3 additional strings. I use more or less evenly the top 7 strings and the lower ones are used a bit like lute basses, and I often tune them up or down a half or a full step, depending on the piece, and the required tuning. Also, I always use a re-entrant tuning, the lowest 3 strings are higher than the 7th. I have good reasons for that. First, I like to have a fourth or fifth interval between the 6th and the 7th strings. This way I can play the instrument the same way as if it were a 6-string guitar, using and fretting the 7th string freely. The 7th can easily be reached in any position. The 8th, 9th and 10th strings are too far to fret them easily, so I use them as diatonic basses, usually merely plucking them when there would be an awkward 7-string grip configuration. Second, if I used all the basses, including the 7th string, lute fashion all the way down diatonically, than some accidentals would be difficult to play. Fretting a C# on a C 10th string is difficult, but fretting the same C# on C 7th string is easy. So I keep the 7th string as the lowest one, and whenever I have a difficult accidental in the bass, I fret it on the 7th string.
This may sound a bit complicated, but just try it; a good re-entrant tuning can solve many technical problems, giving you more possibilities than you would have with a stepwise tuning.
Attila
Music to hear, why hear'st thou music sadly?
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy...

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 8


Return to “Multi-string Classical Guitars”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: CommonCrawl [Bot] and 0 guests