Nylon String Guitars At Dallas International Guitar Show

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Nylon String Guitars At Dallas International Guitar Show

Post by architar » Sat Feb 23, 2019 7:11 pm

Friends and I have attended for past 22 years, mostly interested in steel strings, amps, etc. You know, kid's stuff. I don't recall seeing many nylon string guitars there, but then again, I haven't been looking for them. I've had my first classical for a few months and it seems to be the only one I want to pick up...just love the tone and improvement to my fingers only playing. When I go to Dallas I'll be looking to play every one I come across with an intent to bring one home. To fund said purchase I plan to sell a lovely Collings 12 fret 003 (my wife is a proponent of "one guitar in one guitar out"). It should bring me between 3.5k and 4k, so the question becomes what I can look for in that range. Here are some queries;

Classical vs. Flamenco Build: . I'm not fixed on either, however, I'll probably not delve deeply into playing either style properly (you know, steel string guy liking the tone of nylon but too old/lazy to retrain strictly to the tradition. That's o.k., right?). Is one guitar build more versatile for a cross-over fella like me?

Vintage or New: In steel string acoustic, vintage guitars are sought after for mature tone, better build quality; etc., but at a higher cost. Same hold true for nylons? If so, how far back can I go within my budget?

3.5k to 4k: This seems a reasonable next step for me in a quality nylon string...agree?

Recommendations: I'd like to hear all opinions...factory guitars vs. hand built, manufacturer/luthier, classical or flamenco, good years to shop for, value retention, etc.

I recognize that all of these questions are well answered somewhere in this forum, so please forgive that I ask them again specific to my situation. I hope to be able to fall in love at the show with "the one" based on what my ear favors and my hands like (not forgetting aesthetics either). Listening at a show like this is a challenge against the din of Smoke On The Water (no, wait, this is Texas...recycled Stevie Ray Vaughn riffs). I'll try to find a secluded stairwell.

One last question...will this current disease abate? Will I play steel strings again?

Thanks so much, and I look forward to your sage advice.


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Re: Nylon String Guitars At Dallas International Guitar Show

Post by ronjazz » Sat Feb 23, 2019 7:29 pm

A flamenco negra (rosewood back and sides) will be your ideal "crossover" instrument: easier to play than a classical, brighter and faster as well, like a steel-string. There is no reason to give up the steel-string, in fact, one of the great young players, Thomas Viloteau, plays classical guitar, but also has a couple of youtube videos on the steel-string. As far as what instrument to get, see what shows up. Generally, flamenco guitars re a little less expensive than classical guitars, but also not as common. For your budget, you will get a very high-quality instrument, for sure.
Lester Devoe Flamenco Negra
Lester Devoe Flamenco Blanca
Aparicio Flamenco Blanca with RMC pickup
Bartolex 7-string with RMC pickup
Giannini 7-string with Shadow pickup
Sal Pace 7-string archtop

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James Lister
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Re: Nylon String Guitars At Dallas International Guitar Show

Post by James Lister » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:37 am

Firstly, that's a good budget - no problem getting a nice nylon string for that.

I don't know if it's the same in the US, but in the UK hardly any nylon string makers attend the big guitar shows. This is partly because the vast majority of those that attend the shows are interested in steel string or electric guitars, but also the problem you've mentioned - it's almost impossible to hear anything above the noise, and certainly not the subtleties you're looking for in a classical or flamenco guitar. Also I suspect (although I could be wrong) you won't find many (if any) second hand nylons at a big show. Apart from a very small number of luthier names, classical guitars don't gain value with age, so you'll get more for your money with a second hand instrument, and lose less if/when you come to sell it.

A far better bet would be to visit a specialist classical/flamenco dealer. You'll get to try a range of guitars in the same place, with the quiet you need to hear them properly, and probably some expert advice as well. I don't know what dealers there are in your area (I've only dealt with ones in California and New York), but hopefully one of our US members can make some suggestions of someone more local to you.

Alternatively you could visit some individual luthiers if there are any near you. You'll get a more personal service, and if you're prepared to wait, you can commission a guitar to your own specification.

Because of the rarity of flamenco guitars, you'll have much more choice if you go for classicals. Just check there's room on the saddle to lower the action should you feel you need to. Some factory guitars will be good, but the mark-up on them is generally a lot higher than for individual luthier guitars, so I think you get better value from a luthier guitar (of course, I would say that!)

Good luck in your search,

James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

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Re: Nylon String Guitars At Dallas International Guitar Show

Post by Keith » Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:14 pm

I would disagree that flamenco negras would be the ideal crossover. A crossover, by colloquial definition, is a guitar with a narrower neck--somewhere between a typical steel string and a typical classical (approximately 48mm). First and foremost for a long term steel stringer, do you want a crossover width or do you want to play with the big dog (52mm)? Playing with the big dogs will require re-learning and new learning. As to being "fast", a negra is not, per se, faster except the action is typically lower than a classical. A classical can have a lower action and function well. Additionally, the playing style of flamenco lends itself to faster picados. As for a flamenco guitar, many factory and lower end cypress/sycamore/maple flamenco guitars tend to be more "blonde" classicals--that is, they are more like a classical than a flamenco in sound and feel. A good flamenco guitar is more fragile than a factory or low end flamenco guitar and has different configuration. Ultimately it may come down to a commitment: Do you want to play flamenco? If so, buy a flamenco. Do you want to play classical? If so, then buy a classical. Do you want to switch between steel and nylon and are one of the humans who may struggle between neck widths? If so, buy a crossover.
be true to the one you love but have many flings with different guitars

guitarras en la espiritu de la:
Marcelo Barbero
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Re: Nylon String Guitars At Dallas International Guitar Show

Post by tkoehler1 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 10:01 pm

Well architar welcome to the world of nylon strings. If you're like me I think you'll find yourself drawn more and more to it. I almost find the metallic drone on some steel strings annoying now. Go figure.

You will have choices in the future and yet some in aspects of most classical guitars you will be limited. You may find the lack of radiused fret boards, fret makers and truss rods inexplicable. These are features you take for granted in the steel world that you will have to seek out. They are out there but fairly rare.

As far as the nut width goes, I think it depends on your playing position. If you play your guitar on your right leg and keep the neck closer to horizontal then I would recommend 48mm nut. Get yourself a good crossover and you'll likely find it has a radiused fret board and maybe a truss rod.

If you play your guitar in the classical position, with it resting on your left leg and the neck at about a 45 degree angle, then I would recommend a wider 50-52mm nut. Finding a radiused board/truss rod at this width is much more difficult however. This is where you'll find your choices limited unless you are ok with a totally flat fret board.

I found the biggest change moving over to classical was changing my playing position, from cowboy to classical. I felt alien at first and took a couple of months to feel natural. I have to admit this position allows much better fingering with the left hand, with better reach, control and accuracy. I would recommend you give this playing position a try it is worth the effort.

I found a foot stool gave me back pain, so now I elevate the neck with a Sage Guitar Support (https://sagework.org/collections/atlas-models. That one is quite expensive but there are many other less expensive options out there on the market.

The last thing to consider is the endless spruce vs. cedar top debate. Spruce is the traditional top for classical guitars until about the 60s, when cedar became trendy. Now they are many models with that are identical except for your choice in top wood. Some prefer one or the other. I've found great guitars with either top, so I'd play as many as you can and find what speaks to you. There are a few out there with redwood tops as well.

Good luck and enjoy the journey!


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