Your experience with alto guitars?

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setecordas
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Your experience with alto guitars?

Post by setecordas » Fri Jun 02, 2017 2:09 am

What is your experience with it? Do you find yourself playing mostly lute music, or do you branch out into more modern styles? I am strongly considering either an alto guitar or a 10+ string guitar with a standard scale lengtg. I probably won't be playing a lot of lute music, other than Bach or the occasional Weiss and Logy, but I will definitely be spending a lot of time between it and my 7 string.

:merci:
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setecordas
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Re: Your experience with alto guitars?

Post by setecordas » Fri Jun 02, 2017 2:11 am

BTW, I just discovered Paulo Martelli's alto guitar music on youtube and bought his album Miosótis. My god that is a beautiful album.
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HNLim
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Re: Your experience with alto guitars?

Post by HNLim » Fri Jun 02, 2017 2:40 am

I have a standard 10-string and a 14-string harp Guitar with sharping levers. I made both guitars and they are of standard scale length . I am not much of a guitarist but I think I am better at guitar making than actually playing the guitar. I find that the fact that you have to drop D on some pieces shows the inadequacy of the standard 6-string guitar.

I am in the process of building a 15-string harp guitar but somehow as I play my 14-string and try to make use of all the strings, I find that anything above the 12th string becomes uncomfortable to play. So I am considering throwing away the 15-string neck which I have been working on and to build a 12-string harp guitar instead.

I prefer and enjoy playing on my 14-string much more than my 6-string guitar even though I do not make use of the 13 & 14 strings. I find exporing the extra basses is both fun and enjoying even though i am not much of a guitarist. Hope my input is useful to you.
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setecordas
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Re: Your experience with alto guitars?

Post by setecordas » Fri Jun 02, 2017 2:55 am

Quite useful, thank you! Off topic, but how difficult did you find it was to l build your own? I've had that idea to try in mind since I first began studying guitar.
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HNLim
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Re: Your experience with alto guitars?

Post by HNLim » Fri Jun 02, 2017 3:57 am

setecordas wrote:
Fri Jun 02, 2017 2:55 am
Quite useful, thank you! Off topic, but how difficult did you find it was to l build your own? I've had that idea to try in mind since I first began studying guitar.
Firstly you need a good knowledge regarding woodwork and how to make use of the tools. I studied woodwork as my main subject in school so I have a very good understanding about woodwork. I started off by repairing and re-topping seversl guitars and ukuleles.
1978 Yamaha GC30A-S/BRW
2012 Esteve Adalid-S/BRW
2014 Sen #5-S/BRW
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1974 S.Yairi 950-S/BRW-0-string-convert 2015
2017 HN Lim-14-string-S/BRW
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1974 S.Yairi 800-Retired

ALL ARE FOR SALE IF PRICE IS RIGHT

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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Your experience with alto guitars?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Fri Jun 02, 2017 7:34 am

setecordas wrote:Do you find yourself playing mostly lute music, or do you branch out into more modern styles?
Inspired by the Bach recordings of Sollscher, I commissioned an alto guitar from Philip Woodfield some decades ago (not sure exactly when - I'm not good with time). It was a lovely instrument - well balanced, clear and deliberate tone - I thoroughly enjoyed working with it. I played Bach of course, but also lots of renaissance lute music.

The renaissance works fit beautifully and, while sounding nothing like a lute, the instrument is well suited to the character of the music in terms of its weight of tone, colour etc. Bach emerges very well too - particularly the keyboard (pseudo lute) suites - possibly due to the works not having been derived directly from the lute. Arrangements of cello and violin works? Well, that depends upon your point of view regarding additional material but I feel that the violin works fare somewhat better.

The Achille's heel is proper baroque lute music which obviously requires a similar amount of editing to that which we'd undertake for a standard six-stringed instrument. Even if you love only Weiss amongs the many composers of that era the sheer quantity of his output screams, "buy a Dresden."

I never used the alto for "avant garde" music and very little for modern "popular" styles. Something about the register (for me) didn't seem quite to work with the latter.

Off Topic: I took the decision to sell my instruments during a period travelling - some ten years without a home. I simply couldn't look after them. Most I would describe as nondescript - good names e.g. Contreras, Gee etc. but none of them outstanding and I have never missed them ... except the Woodfield which was quite special. I have tried to locate this old alto ("Delia") with a view to buying it back - if any of you "multi-string" afficianados happen to come across it I'd really appreciate a heads up.

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Your experience with alto guitars?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Fri Jun 02, 2017 9:39 am

I borrowed a George Bolin for a while back in the early 90s to see whether to get one, I felt the voice would only be suitable for early music. Other luthiers may produce guitars with a different voice of course.
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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Your experience with alto guitars?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Fri Jun 02, 2017 10:22 am

Stephen Kenyon wrote:I borrowed a George Bolin for a while back in the early 90s to see whether to get one, I felt the voice would only be suitable for early music. Other luthiers may produce guitars with a different voice of course.
Yes - there's something very delicate in the sound that's rather attractive but somehow quite repertoire specific. I tried a Bolin too - and of course Philip's early ventures in that direction were very much influenced by those instruments. Oddly I recall that his (PW's) customers at the time were often Scandinavian.

setecordas
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Re: Your experience with alto guitars?

Post by setecordas » Fri Jun 02, 2017 1:29 pm

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Fri Jun 02, 2017 7:34 am
The Achille's heel is proper baroque lute music which obviously requires a similar amount of editing to that which we'd undertake for a standard six-stringed instrument. Even if you love only Weiss amongs the many composers of that era the sheer quantity of his output screams, "buy a Dresden."

I never used the alto for "avant garde" music and very little for modern "popular" styles. Something about the register (for me) didn't seem quite to work with the latter.

I've been strongly considering Heikki Rousu's guitars and notice he makes a 13 string tuned in D minor very much like the Dresden. That is an attractive offerring. I can see the slightly added difficulty of using an alto guitar as a primary and arranging/finding repertoire for it. The 13 string D minor could easily be restrung for standard E tuning for all the advanges of the tuning and the range.
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Tomzooki
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Re: Your experience with alto guitars?

Post by Tomzooki » Tue Jun 06, 2017 5:15 pm

setecordas wrote:
Fri Jun 02, 2017 1:29 pm
Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Fri Jun 02, 2017 7:34 am
The Achille's heel is proper baroque lute music which obviously requires a similar amount of editing to that which we'd undertake for a standard six-stringed instrument. Even if you love only Weiss amongs the many composers of that era the sheer quantity of his output screams, "buy a Dresden."

I never used the alto for "avant garde" music and very little for modern "popular" styles. Something about the register (for me) didn't seem quite to work with the latter.

I've been strongly considering Heikki Rousu's guitars and notice he makes a 13 string tuned in D minor very much like the Dresden. That is an attractive offerring. I can see the slightly added difficulty of using an alto guitar as a primary and arranging/finding repertoire for it. The 13 string D minor could easily be restrung for standard E tuning for all the advanges of the tuning and the range.
I own a 11 string alto guitar by Heikki Rousu. I love that guitar, it sounds beautifully, the craftsmanship is excellent, it withstand very well the climate difference between Quebec and middle-north Sweden, Quebec being dry in winter and quite humid in summer, Sweden tending to stay rather dry all year (I think). I use it for renaissance and baroque music; its tone is perfect for it. One of the great advantages is to be able to read renaissance and early baroque directly from lute tabs. And his prices are very competitive; at the time I ordered mine it was half the price of what I would have paid from a Quebec luthier.

Oh, yes, my experience..... It was far much harder to adapt to it than I thought, and because I have long periods without playing it (like right now) I am still learning to play on it, even if I am an advanced classical guitar player. A great lesson of humility :lol:
Benoît Raby, Engelmann sp/Ziricote
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soltirefa
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Re: Your experience with alto guitars?

Post by soltirefa » Wed Jun 07, 2017 6:07 pm

This guy is a great alto guitar player. Check out his YT channel to see others.

https://youtu.be/PyEGiOPlEn4

Roberto001
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Re: Your experience with alto guitars?

Post by Roberto001 » Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:40 pm

Hello everyone,

I have a 13 string alto guitar. At first it is difficult to not get lost, but after some point your brain will adapt. I´m not saying my thumb doesn´t get lost sometimes :? , but now when I try to play a 6 string classical guitar, it feels strange.

I use it for:
- Baroque music, mostly Weiss and De Visee. I do agree that if the focus is only baroque lute music, then is it better to get an instrument tuned in d-minor, but if you look to cover a wider spectrum I found this instrument to be the perfect "middle point" because it can cover other interesting styles, as Visee´s theorbo music.
- Own creations and improvisations. In this case, the additional basses add a whole new dimension to it and it is very fun, but as always... it depends on your taste.


Regards,
Roberto.

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