Moving Between a Classical and Steel String Guitar

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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DaveLeeNC
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Moving Between a Classical and Steel String Guitar

Postby DaveLeeNC » Wed Feb 08, 2017 7:11 pm

The majority of my play is on my classical. But I do play some pieces that just don't render well (to my ear) on my classical guitar and I play those on my 'jazz box' (archtop guitar - Gibson ES-175D). There are a lot of differences, of course. And string spacing is certainly one of them. The most common nut width in steel string land is 1 11/16" with 1/3/4" (1/16" wider) being the second most common. Other widths exist but they are far less common.

For those of you who, like me, play both types of instruments is this 1/16" 'less different" enough less to matter? My instincts were 'no' but I did some measurements on both of my guitars. The center of the first to center of the 6th string measurements (at the first fret) were 44mm vs 37mm which is 7 mm. 1/16" is 2.59 mm so that little 1/16" actually reduces the difference by 37%. So maybe it is not negligible after all.

Other experience or opinion here - thanks.

dave
1984 Jesus Marzal cedar CG
1971 Sherry-Brener (Cedar) Garcia No. 1 CG
1975 Gibson ES-175D Achtop Electric
2016 Eastman AR905CE-BD Carved Archtop Electric

Andre
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Joined: Wed May 11, 2016 10:33 pm

Re: Moving Between a Classical and Steel String Guitar

Postby Andre » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:56 pm

I play both steel and nylon string guitar.
All my nylon stringers have the standard flat classical fretboard, with at least 2" (ca. 50-52mm) width at the nut. My acoustic steel string guitars, on the other hand, vary over a wider range: 1 3/4" to 1 13/16", to 1 7/8".
Here's what I find:
In addition to the nut width, the overall feel of each is very dependent on additional "geometry" features of the guitar, in particular the shape of the neck and the string spacing at the saddle. Fretboard width from the nut to the bridge and its radius are also variables which might come into play.
So, back to your question:
Imo, if you were to play identical guitars, safe for the nut width, the 1/16" would indeed matter. I'm pretty sure you would sense it.
But, it doesn't necessarily translate to a different kind of guitar. In other words, a steel string guitar with a nut width of 1 3/4" may actually feel just as roomy if not roomier than a guitar with a 1 13/16" nut width, if overall string spacing, radius and neck shape happen to be markedly different in both guitars.
I hope that makes sense. I guess what I'm saying is that there's more variability in steel string guitars in this regard, and that should be taken into consideration.
Best regards,
Andre

DaveLeeNC
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Location: Pinehurst, NC, USA

Re: Moving Between a Classical and Steel String Guitar

Postby DaveLeeNC » Fri Feb 10, 2017 9:32 pm

Andre - makes perfect sense. Thanks.

dave
1984 Jesus Marzal cedar CG
1971 Sherry-Brener (Cedar) Garcia No. 1 CG
1975 Gibson ES-175D Achtop Electric
2016 Eastman AR905CE-BD Carved Archtop Electric

Laudiesdad69
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Re: Moving Between a Classical and Steel String Guitar

Postby Laudiesdad69 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:23 am

I used to have trouble switching between my classical and electric guitars. My les Paul had
1 and 11/16 (43mm) nut and my classical had 52 mm nut. Then I got a dead accurate Brian May replica. The nut was 47mm (1.85in), 5mm less but it felt roomy enough as the neck is really thick (1 1/4 inch right next to the zero fret).

I play classical every day now, and the Brian May replica is the only electric guitar that I can switch to without placing my fingers in the wrong spots with the left hand. Although at one time I did shred on a strat, if I go to a music store and try a guitar off the wall, it takes me about ten minutes to get used to it again. Not good if you are playing classical and electric in the same gig, but with the Brian May it's no problem.

DaveLeeNC
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Re: Moving Between a Classical and Steel String Guitar

Postby DaveLeeNC » Tue Feb 14, 2017 8:15 pm

Laudiesdad69 wrote:I used to have trouble switching between my classical and electric guitars. My les Paul had
1 and 11/16 (43mm) nut and my classical had 52 mm nut. Then I got a dead accurate Brian May replica. The nut was 47mm (1.85in), 5mm less but it felt roomy enough as the neck is really thick (1 1/4 inch right next to the zero fret).

I play classical every day now, and the Brian May replica is the only electric guitar that I can switch to without placing my fingers in the wrong spots with the left hand. Although at one time I did shred on a strat, if I go to a music store and try a guitar off the wall, it takes me about ten minutes to get used to it again. Not good if you are playing classical and electric in the same gig, but with the Brian May it's no problem.


That is interesting data. At least it says that in your case going from 43mm to 47mm matters. In the case at hand it is more like 43mm to 44.5 mm, but interesting none the less.

dave
1984 Jesus Marzal cedar CG
1971 Sherry-Brener (Cedar) Garcia No. 1 CG
1975 Gibson ES-175D Achtop Electric
2016 Eastman AR905CE-BD Carved Archtop Electric

DaveLeeNC
Posts: 140
Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2016 3:31 pm
Location: Pinehurst, NC, USA

Re: Moving Between a Classical and Steel String Guitar

Postby DaveLeeNC » Wed Feb 15, 2017 3:17 pm

Thought I would add something else here. I regularly do scale exercises and arpeggio exercises. It helps a good bit if you do some of them (doesn't take a bunch) on your steel string guitar. I found that to make the transition easier,

dave
1984 Jesus Marzal cedar CG
1971 Sherry-Brener (Cedar) Garcia No. 1 CG
1975 Gibson ES-175D Achtop Electric
2016 Eastman AR905CE-BD Carved Archtop Electric

Julian Ward
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Location: UK, Ringwood

Re: Moving Between a Classical and Steel String Guitar

Postby Julian Ward » Wed Feb 15, 2017 11:41 pm

I was so concerned about this that I had a 48mm steel strung made. I had it made to more or less a classical guitar body size, and like a classical in a 12 fret version. It felt like a classical to play but after a couple of years I tried a Larivee standard off the shelf which was 44mm. The guitar had a better sound and I could play it just as well, if not better, so I sold the guitar I had made!

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BugDog
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Re: Moving Between a Classical and Steel String Guitar

Postby BugDog » Thu Feb 16, 2017 4:37 pm

I don't play on the steel string as much as I used to, but when I did I found keeping the repertoire separate helped.
BugDog
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DaveLeeNC
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Re: Moving Between a Classical and Steel String Guitar

Postby DaveLeeNC » Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:44 pm

BugDog wrote:I don't play on the steel string as much as I used to, but when I did I found keeping the repertoire separate helped.


I just did an interesting exercise. I recently purchased an archtop guitar (jazz box) with a carved top that is listenable without an amplifier. I was doing some string experiments on this instrument using about 16 bars from a (low intermediate level) arrangement of the jazz standard "Have You Met Miss Jones". I had only recently 'gotten it under my fingers' and I learned it on my classical guitar. For whatever reason this piece renders very well both amplified and acoustically. I was just recording those measures using a couple of different string sets.

I spent some time getting it moved over to the steel string side of things - and I thought that 'was done'. For grins I also added the classical guitar to the mix. I was astonished at how much better I played it "on the instrument where I learned it". That was very enlightening to me.

dave
1984 Jesus Marzal cedar CG
1971 Sherry-Brener (Cedar) Garcia No. 1 CG
1975 Gibson ES-175D Achtop Electric
2016 Eastman AR905CE-BD Carved Archtop Electric

blacksheep
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Re: Moving Between a Classical and Steel String Guitar

Postby blacksheep » Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:46 pm

BugDog wrote:I don't play on the steel string as much as I used to, but when I did I found keeping the repertoire separate helped.

Exactly, just gotta find out what song sounds good on what guitar. i also tend to play pieces that involves a lot of high frets on my acoustic rather than the classical, mainly due to comfort and ease.

Stephen.Verderber
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Re: Moving Between a Classical and Steel String Guitar

Postby Stephen.Verderber » Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:44 pm

I play both, but I use the steel-string for non-standard tunings for Slack-Key and Celtic tunes in open G and DADGAD tunings. I have trouble wiht my hands and playing the steel string in standard tuning makes things worse, hence the open tunings.

The techniques are so different for the styles that I don't have many issues with switching back and forth. I also use fingerpicks on the steel-string as the strings tear up my nails pretty bad.


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