What kind of guitar did Fernando Sor play?

A "classroom" environment for exchanging Technical Questions & Answers, How-To's, music theory concepts, etc.
Wuuthrad
Posts: 93
Joined: Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:16 pm
Location: USA

What kind of guitar did Fernando Sor play?

Post by Wuuthrad » Mon Nov 27, 2017 3:23 am

Apologies in advance if this has been answered before, but I searched and came up with over 6,000 results.
In any case, I am curious to know what kind of guitar he played.

I'm a huge fan of his studies and the complexity therein. He seems to pull so much music out of what appears to be simple, at least on the page, but isn't always the case.

But I do find it hard to squeeze my fingers into the shapes he writes sometimes, and I wonder if they had a guitar back then that made the music of that era a bit easier to play?

Lovemyguitar
Posts: 2932
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2011 5:50 pm
Location: Canada

Re: What kind of guitar did Fernando Sor play?

Post by Lovemyguitar » Mon Nov 27, 2017 3:51 am

He played what we call a Romantic guitar, which was a bit smaller than the current standard, having a narrower fingerboard and shorter scale length (maybe about 620 or 630 mm on average), which would make it a bit easier to play. A search of "Romantic Guitar" will get you tonnes of information. Cheers!

Wuuthrad
Posts: 93
Joined: Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:16 pm
Location: USA

Re: What kind of guitar did Fernando Sor play?

Post by Wuuthrad » Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:50 am

Fabulous! Thank you very much.

It makes me wonder when the switch to the 650 scale happened, and why is it the most common?

User avatar
Mark Clifton-Gaultier
Posts: 1045
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2009 1:03 pm
Location: England

Re: What kind of guitar did Fernando Sor play?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:25 am

Lovemyguitar wrote:He played what we call a Romantic guitar
More specifically - Sor is thought to have played guitars by several makers with a preference for the fan-braced instruments of Pages, Martinez, Rada etc. and he asked Panormo to build a guitar in the Spanish style. He also praised Lacôte, and it has been said that this was his main concert instrument though, on his death he bequeathed a guitar by Rada to Napoleon Coste.

A search for the names of these luthiers should result in more information than you need.

Rasputin
Posts: 563
Joined: Fri May 12, 2017 12:25 pm

Re: What kind of guitar did Fernando Sor play?

Post by Rasputin » Mon Nov 27, 2017 6:46 pm

Wuuthrad wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 3:23 am
... I do find it hard to squeeze my fingers into the shapes he writes sometimes, and I wonder if they had a guitar back then that made the music of that era a bit easier to play?
I think we have to be a bit careful with that, because although the guitar of the day was a tad smaller (about 4% smaller than a modern guitar) the people of the day were also smaller - I think by quite a bit. The guitar may actually have been larger, relative to the people who played it, than our modern guitar is. It may well be a bit easier for us to play, but the idea behind the question seemed to be that it must have been easier for them, and I'm not sure that follows.

Ramon Amira
Teacher
Posts: 2977
Joined: Thu Nov 05, 2009 12:44 am
Location: New York City

Re: What kind of guitar did Fernando Sor play?

Post by Ramon Amira » Mon Nov 27, 2017 7:12 pm

This question has already been definitively answered. In an article in the official newsletter of the Saint-Petersburg Classical Guitar Society, Professor Ivan Romanovsky of the Saint-Petersburg State University, after five years of exhaustive research conducted under a grant funded by the Friends of the Classical Guitar Foundation in Moscow, has irrefutably determined that the main guitar Sor played was an Esteban Concert model.

Ramon
Classical and Flamenco guitar lessons via Skype worldwide - Classical and Flamenco guitars from Spain

User avatar
Kent
Posts: 2553
Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2010 1:40 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: What kind of guitar did Fernando Sor play?

Post by Kent » Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:23 pm

Ramon Amira wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 7:12 pm
This question has already been definitively answered. In an article in the official newsletter of the Saint-Petersburg Classical Guitar Society, Professor Ivan Romanovsky of the Saint-Petersburg State University, after five years of exhaustive research conducted under a grant funded by the Friends of the Classical Guitar Foundation in Moscow, has irrefutably determined that the main guitar Sor played was an Esteban Concert model.

Ramon
You mean Sir Esteban the Great.

User avatar
Michael.N.
Posts: 6610
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2007 7:28 am
Location: UK

Re: What kind of guitar did Fernando Sor play?

Post by Michael.N. » Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:02 pm

Wuuthrad wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:50 am
Fabulous! Thank you very much.

It makes me wonder when the switch to the 650 scale happened, and why is it the most common?
The 650 scale existed long before it became the standard, it just wasn't very common. Before the romantic guitar we had the baroque guitar and that frequently had a scale length quite a bit longer than 650 mm's. I've certainly come across romantic guitars with a 650 scale although 630 mm seems to be fairly common. Torres especially in his second epoch seemed to make a lot of guitars with the 650 scale so I guess it became something of a standard towards the later part of the 19 th century. As the fame of Torres continued after his death both players and makers were increasingly settling on the Torres 650 scale, although of course Torres did not invent it.
Height difference (on average) may have been 4 or 5 inches smaller than humans today. Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert were all pretty small guys in comparison to the average male today.
Historicalguitars.

DLMJ-1234
Posts: 34
Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2017 3:35 pm

Re: What kind of guitar did Fernando Sor play?

Post by DLMJ-1234 » Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:34 pm

as I understand he played with flesh, so his guitars sound very different to our modern instruments.

Wuuthrad
Posts: 93
Joined: Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:16 pm
Location: USA

Re: What kind of guitar did Fernando Sor play?

Post by Wuuthrad » Mon Nov 27, 2017 11:16 pm

Kent wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:23 pm
Ramon Amira wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 7:12 pm
This question has already been definitively answered. In an article in the official newsletter of the Saint-Petersburg Classical Guitar Society, Professor Ivan Romanovsky of the Saint-Petersburg State University, after five years of exhaustive research conducted under a grant funded by the Friends of the Classical Guitar Foundation in Moscow, has irrefutably determined that the main guitar Sor played was an Esteban Concert model.

Ramon
You mean Sir Esteban the Great.
I can hardly imagine the certain collectible value of one of these legendary "axes"- astute guitarists, without doubt might purchase several (hundred) considering their esteemed value! 8)

Wuuthrad
Posts: 93
Joined: Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:16 pm
Location: USA

Re: What kind of guitar did Fernando Sor play?

Post by Wuuthrad » Mon Nov 27, 2017 11:27 pm

Michael.N. wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:02 pm
Wuuthrad wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:50 am
Fabulous! Thank you very much.

It makes me wonder when the switch to the 650 scale happened, and why is it the most common?
The 650 scale existed long before it became the standard, it just wasn't very common. Before the romantic guitar we had the baroque guitar and that frequently had a scale length quite a bit longer than 650 mm's. I've certainly come across romantic guitars with a 650 scale although 630 mm seems to be fairly common. Torres especially in his second epoch seemed to make a lot of guitars with the 650 scale so I guess it became something of a standard towards the later part of the 19 th century. As the fame of Torres continued after his death both players and makers were increasingly settling on the Torres 650 scale, although of course Torres did not invent it.
Height difference (on average) may have been 4 or 5 inches smaller than humans today. Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert were all pretty small guys in comparison to the average male today.
I saw a wonderful performance of Beethoven Sonatas played on fortepiano, and once owned a vinyl album of the same (wish I could remember the artist.) I've always preferred these over the piano.

Interesting topic indeed, and thanks to everyone for the info! I think it's a fascinating conversation, and I'll be adding the Romantic guitar to future quests...

:merci: :guitare:

Wuuthrad
Posts: 93
Joined: Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:16 pm
Location: USA

Re: What kind of guitar did Fernando Sor play?

Post by Wuuthrad » Tue Nov 28, 2017 4:00 am

After looking around, I have to ask: why does a romantic or "parlor" classical (for comparison) cost near 5,000$ whereas a "parlor" steel string can be bought for 149$ ?

User avatar
Michael.N.
Posts: 6610
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2007 7:28 am
Location: UK

Re: What kind of guitar did Fernando Sor play?

Post by Michael.N. » Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:31 am

But a 'parlor' steel string can cost $5,000 too - sometimes quite a bit more. It's simply the difference between very cheap mass produced far east guitars and handmade luthier guitars.
Historicalguitars.

DerekB
Posts: 441
Joined: Tue May 01, 2012 10:22 am
Location: Bollington, Cheshire UK

Re: What kind of guitar did Fernando Sor play?

Post by DerekB » Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:19 am

Those of you interested in this topic who have not already done so would be well advised to look up Christopher Page's lectures on the romantic guitar, which he gave about eighteen months ago. They are still available on the Gresham College website. In one of the lectures he refers to Sor as "the greatest guitarist who ever lived" (or words to that effect) but does not elaborate on his reasons for saying this.

At present he is in the middle of a further set of lectures on the guitar, this time in England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These are also available on the Gresham College website.

Both sets of lectures include plenty of musical examples. These are played without nails.
I've suffered for my music. Now it's your turn... - Seasick Steve

Ana Espinosa 2014 Swiss spruce/IRW
Yulong Guo 2009 640mm scale cedar/IRW

Wuuthrad
Posts: 93
Joined: Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:16 pm
Location: USA

Re: What kind of guitar did Fernando Sor play?

Post by Wuuthrad » Wed Nov 29, 2017 6:34 am

Michael.N. wrote:
Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:31 am
But a 'parlor' steel string can cost $5,000 too - sometimes quite a bit more. It's simply the difference between very cheap mass produced far east guitars and handmade luthier guitars.
I wondered this, and thanks for your explanation. I should elaborate in suggesting that a Romantic guitar would be worth a look at the budget price, or low to mid range for many players. There are no low to mid range Romantic guitars, unless I am looking in wrong place. However there is plenty of music written on and for the Romantic guitar.

Instead what I presume is that the industry has provided numerous variations on the Torres model, whereas I think guitarists might benefit, or even prefer other choices (especially ones that don't break the bank, so to speak.)

I see many 1/2, 3/4, 7/8 model classical guitars, but not many Romantic styles. Hardly any at all. And when there are options for other early instruments in a more affordable range, it strikes me as curious that Romantic guitars are limited to Luthiers. Obviously (I hope apparently) not to suggest there's anything wrong with Luthier guitars, but I'm wondering why doesn't Córdoba or Yamaha make a budget Romantic Guitar?

We all study Sor and it seems he was very specific about what kind of guitar should be played.

Also curious to me, as someone suggested elsewhere, Romantic guitars were tuned to 415? How was this notated then properly on the staff as we see his music now?

Return to “Classical Guitar Classes”