8 String vs. alto guitar/ archguitar

Discussion of all aspects of multi-string guitars, namely those with 7 or more strings.
porter.fitch
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8 String vs. alto guitar/ archguitar

Postby porter.fitch » Tue Dec 20, 2016 6:19 pm

Alright, this question may be a little on the specific side, but here goes...

I'm in the market for an extended range guitar. I'd like something that extends both above and below the typical range of a guitar. My first idea was to get a Brahms guitar like the one Paul Galbraith plays, tuned B1 E2 A2 D3 G3 B3 E4 A4. But then I was alerted to the existence of more lute-inspired guitars, like Goran Sollscher's alto guitar (tuned Bb1 C2 D2 Eb2 F2 G2 C3 F3 Bb3 D4 G4, I understand) or Peter Blanchette's archguitar (tuning unknown, but ostensibly with a stepwise bass tuning scheme similar to the alto guitar.)

So, my question is this: Is there anyone here who has experience on both types of instruments and can speak to their respective strengths and weaknesses? It seems to me that fingerings in the keys diatonic to the bass strings would be easier on the more lute-like instruments, but that anything with more chromatic bass movement might be easier on the Brahms guitar.

(To illustrate my idea: Let's say we're playing a melodic line in Bb over a stepwise diatonic bassline in Bb. This will obviously be easier on the alto-guitar or archguitar, because my left hand doesn't have to move to grab the bass notes. But, let's say the bassline has a movement of C2-C#2-D2, also under a melodic line. That seems a lot easier on the Brahms guitar, where you only have to reach down to the 8th string, rather than reaching behind the nut to get the C#2 on an alto-guitar.)

So, in short, it seems like the Brahms guitar will be more chromatically flexible, while the alto-guitar or archguitar will be better at playing diatonic music. Am I way off here? Thanks.

BaRaN
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Re: 8 String vs. alto guitar/ archguitar

Postby BaRaN » Fri Dec 23, 2016 7:41 pm

My 8 string came in C2 D2 E2 A2 D3 G3 B3 E4. Both diatonic and chromatic bass lines were easy because your bass note must be a open string or first fret. First fret is very easy because the way we put our left hand to neck, index finger can easily press the first fret when you play melodies under it. Your other three finger can play all the melodies and 1 spesific finger that always stay in there when you need it.
After that I change my tuning to Brahms tuning. Now in the first position, playing bass lines is much harder. Think this chord changes in first position:
Gm--- D/F#--- Eb---D---A/C#----D maybe there is a better position to play it but the way I am playing this, I have to change my finger which pressing the bass string(I am using B and E string for bass) and I have to think more. And my ring finger is a little small so playing D on 8th string when I play melodies in 1st-2nd-3rd string is harder for me. I hope this post will give you some idea. Don't forget that I am a newbie in classical guitar playing so this problems can be just abaout my knowledge. :)

porter.fitch
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Joined: Sat Jul 09, 2016 10:13 pm

Re: 8 String vs. alto guitar/ archguitar

Postby porter.fitch » Sat Dec 24, 2016 9:40 pm

Hm, thanks for the input.
If you could split the difference-- ie, an instrument with the same wide range as Galbraith tuning, but additional basses-- would you?

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AndreiKrylov
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Re: 8 String vs. alto guitar/ archguitar

Postby AndreiKrylov » Sat Dec 24, 2016 11:59 pm

I use 8 string and 7 string all the time, and I like to play in different tunings.
mostly
A1 E2 A2 D3 G3 B3 E4
A1 D2 A2 D3 G3 A3 D4
A3 E2 A2 D3 G3 B3 E4
A1 D2 E2 A2 D3 G3 B3 E4
my 7th or 8th string not on frets but on the side of fingerboard therefore it is fretless and one could play eastern, arabic, indian etc style of music on it, or it is like a string from normal fretless contrabass, it is my own original idea ...
(c) Andrei Krylov 1994 :)
In reality it is all not necessary for standard guitar music, but since I play mostly my own stuff - I use it a lot.
I experimented with other ways including those two about which you asked and found them unpractical for my purposes.
Good luck in your search!
Last edited by AndreiKrylov on Sun Dec 25, 2016 1:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
I'd better speak by music...Please listen Andrei Krylov at Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon Prime etc. Thanks!

porter.fitch
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Re: 8 String vs. alto guitar/ archguitar

Postby porter.fitch » Sun Dec 25, 2016 1:01 am

I see. Thanks for the input!
Any alto guitarists out there want to talk me into multiple bass strings?

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Tomzooki
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Location: Quebec city, Canada

Re: 8 String vs. alto guitar/ archguitar

Postby Tomzooki » Sun Dec 25, 2016 3:15 am

I would say the choice should be made in function of the repertoire you want to play. With the 11 strings alto guitar you can read lute music directly from the original tabs - well, most of it, Dowland, Kapsberger, Piccinini, etc. For Bach and Weiss you need another tuning and maybe some more strings, here a 13 strings alto or a Dresden would be a good choice
Benoît Raby, Engelmann sp/Ziricote
Yamaha GC-3A
11-strings alto guitar by Heikki Rousu, sp/indonesian RW

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Tomzooki
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Location: Quebec city, Canada

Re: 8 String vs. alto guitar/ archguitar

Postby Tomzooki » Sun Dec 25, 2016 3:23 am

And yes... multiple bass strings... you will notice that it is not as simple as you think and it will take time and work to tame the beast. You will learn that your brain does not identify the 6th string as the 6th, but as the 1st at the other side. And now it is right in the middle!! And those basses, you can't just let them ring forever. You will have to learn to do a rest stroke with the thumb and free strokes with the other fingers at the same time.

One advice: don't look at any of your hands right from the beginning. ;-)
Benoît Raby, Engelmann sp/Ziricote
Yamaha GC-3A
11-strings alto guitar by Heikki Rousu, sp/indonesian RW

porter.fitch
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Joined: Sat Jul 09, 2016 10:13 pm

Re: 8 String vs. alto guitar/ archguitar

Postby porter.fitch » Sun Dec 25, 2016 4:47 am

Alright, thanks! Good advice.
I think I'm going to go with the 8 string. In Galbraith tuning down a whole step, I get all the range of a 13 string lute.
I don't anticipate wanting to work from tablature, and I'm pretty set in my guitar-tuned ways. And I kind of like making my own transcriptions.
Anyways, I'll let you all know when I find the 8 string I want. Thanks for the advice!


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