Flamenco guitar - string tension

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Flamenco guitar - string tension

Post by TrickyFish » Fri Dec 07, 2018 12:20 pm

I recently ordered a mid-quality flamenco guitar. A “beater” that i can learn some flamenco and have some fun.

I prefer high tension strings on my classical and am inclined to stick the same set for this guitar (Savarez 540J), but i know little about flamenco guitars or techniques.

Do flamenco guitars usually have higher or lower string tensions than classical guitars to accommodate flamenco techniques? Or is it player preference abd there is no general rule?


Re: Flamenco guitar - string tension

Post by prawnheed » Fri Dec 07, 2018 1:35 pm

There is nothing special about flamenco strings. Some strings might work better for you than others on a particular guitar, but I'd personally start with what you know and, if you can be bothered, experiment from there.

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Re: Flamenco guitar - string tension

Post by guitarrista » Fri Dec 07, 2018 4:57 pm

Like prawnheed said. Put on the strings you are used to. I use Savarez 510AJ on my flamenco.

What you might have heard is something about old-school flamenco guitarists using lower tension strings. This may have been true, but consider that they would typically play very near the bridge (for stylistic reasons of wanting a brighter and punchier sound).

So the FEEL of their strings would have been like that of a classical played next to the sound hole, strung with high tension strings (because near the bridge the string's stiffness starts playing a significant role in terms of how the string feels and how hard it is to displace it to make a sound).

So I think flamencos may have used lower tension in conjunction with playing very near the bridge because high tension and bridge-playing makes for a very stiff string feel - too stiff. That's my hypothesis and attempt to reconcile the apparent contradiction (fast scale playing AND lower tension??) anyway... :-)
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Re: Flamenco guitar - string tension

Post by MrF1 » Fri Dec 07, 2018 8:30 pm

I always preferred D'Addario EJ45s on my classical guitars. Made the switch to Flamenco guitars and the EJ45s do just fine. Give your 540Js a go and see how they feel on your new guitar. Like any guitar, strings are a personal thing and it's a three-way dynamic between the player, the guitar, and the strings.

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Re: Flamenco guitar - string tension

Post by Stephen Faulk » Sat Dec 08, 2018 6:16 am

When you learn to do the alzapua thumb technique your guitar will tell you if the tension is high enough. In the beginning it doesn't really matter, but once you learn alzapua you may prefer a different tension on that particular guitar. How you do alzapua and how the guitar responds to letting go of legato runs in thumb work tells you a lot about which tension might work best.

The reason some older generations used lower tension strings, if they did, was because flamenco guitars during and after the 50's had 660 or even 665 or 667 scale length. High tension strings on ,665mm scale? Probably not needed in many cases. But then modern players will put high tension strings on long scale guitars if they can handle it. The other reasons for normal tension strings is that if you play in a cuadro, with dancers, you can shred your thumb on high tension strings on a long scale.

I wouldn't worry about it until you a play for dancers and learn alzapua. La Bella 820 strings are nice and so are savarez.
Patience at the bending iron pays in rounded dividends!

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