Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

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Rasputin
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Re: Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

Post by Rasputin » Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:10 pm

Conall wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:58 pm
I found that if I tune the low E 6th to C and the A 5th to G I can play the suites from the bass clef cello music directly on a 6 string guitar. In fact in doing so I have at my disposal 3 of the cello's open strings (C,G,D) and so can play the third (C major) and fifth suites (C minor) in a more faithful & effective way than a 6 string guitar tuned normally. I can even play all the internal open string pedal notes in the original scores. I have also experimented with tuning the 2nd string down to A - to gain the cello's 1st open string - and used this tuning (C,G,D,G,A,E or D) to play the famous first suite in it's original G major. The open A 2nd string allows one of the pedal passages at the end of the prelude.
That is very interesting and something I will be trying very soon!
The only problem I have with tuning down to low C is that the 6th string is too loose & suffers somewhat being a step down too far. This is one major reason why I'd like a 7th or 8th string pitched to C.
Why not just use a fatter 6th string?

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prawnheed
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Re: Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

Post by prawnheed » Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:13 pm

Conall wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:58 pm
prawnheed wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 11:28 pm
Conall wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:24 pm
It's not just a case of "more music", Prawnheed. It makes more high quality music available for guitarists. We often complain (and our instrument is often criticized that) there are not enough high quality works playable on / written for guitar. A larger range makes more of Bach & Dowland's music open to us as well as lesser composers' best pieces (Weiss etc).
I don't think the repertoire problem is due to a shortage of strings on the instrument - it already has more than a violin or cello. The challenge is that there have been very few composers who took the instrument seriously enough to write decent music specifically for it.

The possibility for me to play more transcriptions of medieval and baroque music does not excite me enough to buy and learn to play a new style of guitar.
If you don't like the idea of more than 6 strings then that's up to you and of course you are in the majority!

If you are not a fan of Baroque & Renaissance music that is also your choice though avoiding music from this period obviously means denying yourself the music of some of the world's greatest ever composers (such as Bach of course).

If you do like & play the common modern versions of (for example) Bach's "lute works" then you are already playing Baroque transcriptions / arrangements. However I would argue that these 6 string arrangements will be inferior to ones that could be made on 8 (or even 7) strings since there are plenty of examples within these modern arrangements of the lute (or more likely "lautenwerk" keyboard) works in which there are less than satisfactory bass notes transpositions (especially in the 1st 2 movements of BWV 996) or even bass lines left out altogether (eg in bar 30 of the Sarabande of BWV 997).

In contrast to you it does excite me to play (for example) Bach's cello suites in their original keys & pitch instead of many of the frankly poor modern guitar transcriptions. I found that if I tune the low E 6th to C and the A 5th to G I can play the suites from the bass clef cello music directly on a 6 string guitar. In fact in doing so I have at my disposal 3 of the cello's open strings (C,G,D) and so can play the third (C major) and fifth suites (C minor) in a more faithful & effective way than a 6 string guitar tuned normally. I can even play all the internal open string pedal notes in the original scores. I have also experimented with tuning the 2nd string down to A - to gain the cello's 1st open string - and used this tuning (C,G,D,G,A,E or D) to play the famous first suite in it's original G major. The open A 2nd string allows one of the pedal passages at the end of the prelude. Needless to say these tunings make the guitar very resonant when playing in C major & minor particularly but also they mimic the resonances of the cello. The only problem I have with tuning down to low C is that the 6th string is too loose & suffers somewhat being a step down too far. This is one major reason why I'd like a 7th or 8th string pitched to C. Ideally I'd learn the cello but I'm too old to start that now and of course we guitarists have one advantage over the cello in that we can play the chords more cleanly or as block chords.

Re: "why not just play harp or harp guitar then?"....I've already answered that. 8 (or 7) string guitars where the 7th & 8th are fretable & the neck is only a bit wider than on a 6 string (& the guitar stronger but similar in design to a 6 string) are not that major a departure from a 6 string (I'm not talking about Galbraith's fan-fretted "Brahms guitar" - an altogether different proposition). But 10-15 strings where most extra lower strings are played open need a very wide right hand span which I dislike (as I discovered playing the Baroque lute) and the character of this type of guitar is too close to the harp which I like a lot less than a 6-8 string (fretable) guitar.

Re: "seriously objecting to Weiss being a lesser composer" - sorry Weiss fans - I do like his music a lot but you won't find many musicians putting Weiss in the same league as Bach, Handel, Vivaldi & others of the late Baroque. Dowland is regarded with justification as being one of the greatest Renaissance lute composers. But I guess some subjectivity / personal taste comes in to all that.

Thank you all for your contributions - I'm enjoying the debate!
Why not just get a cello?

Conall
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Re: Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

Post by Conall » Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:49 pm

See above for answer on that one! I'm too old to start cello for now!!

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David Norton
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Re: Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

Post by David Norton » Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:49 pm

Here's my take on it, having played 10- and 8-string guitars for some 35 years:

A major failing is the lack of "standardized tuning" for the added basses. Focusing just on 8-string options:

7=D, 8=C ("Romantic Era", good for Coste, etc)
7=D, 8=B (ren. lute)
7=B, 8=D (inverted ren. lute, and the one I prefer)
7=C, 8=D (inverted "Romantic Era")
8=A, 7 to 2 = normal guitar, 1= high A (Egberto Gismonti, Paul Galbraith)

(And the tuning variants available in the 10-string world get even MORE confusing!)

Secondary to this, I've often encountered the "uninformed audience" scenario when playing 10- or 8-string. This is most commonly observed at non-formal gigs, receptions, etc. "Wow, didja see the cool guitar this dude has? I'm waitin' for him to rip some fast scales on them top strings!!" (visually on top, but meaning the lowest basses), followed by an air-guitar demo with Van Halen sound effects. Usually within 30 more seconds, the same person says "Schitt, he ain't gonna do it!", gives a look of disgust, and walks away.
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Conall
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Re: Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

Post by Conall » Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:55 pm

Ha ha, good one David!
I guess I don't really care to impress the metal-heads!

Conall
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Re: Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

Post by Conall » Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:57 pm

But currently my preference is for 8 C and 7 D. I imagine I'll alter that when possible / where it is advantageous to do so.
I'm a bit worried about 8=A being overly resonant as A is already arguably too strong on a 6 string.

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David Norton
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Re: Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

Post by David Norton » Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:17 pm

A key "trick" which I learned from Vicenzo Macaluso decades ago: use an Aranjuez Gold for the 7th string. It was designed in cooperation with Yepes and Jose Ramirez some 50 years ago, and is able to be tuned from low A to low D without problem. The gold color also serves as a good visual separation marker. String by Mail sells these. I've used this particular brand of string since the 1980s and they last a long time (a year or more) and are very stable in pitch. Other 7th strings don't seem to work nearly as well.
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soltirefa
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Re: Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

Post by soltirefa » Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:40 pm

David Norton wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:17 pm
A key "trick" which I learned from Vicenzo Macaluso decades ago: use an Aranjuez Gold for the 7th string. It was designed in cooperation with Yepes and Jose Ramirez some 50 years ago, and is able to be tuned from low A to low D without problem. The gold color also serves as a good visual separation marker. String by Mail sells these. I've used this particular brand of string since the 1980s and they last a long time (a year or more) and are very stable in pitch. Other 7th strings don't seem to work nearly as well.
I ordered some of these recently from SBM and they said the manufacturer's facility got destroyed by the hurricane in Puerto Rico but that he's relocating to the US to set up again. So I never got my order filled. Hopefully he gets set up in his new location soon. They are really good strings for the purpose you stated.

ddray
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Re: Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

Post by ddray » Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:59 pm

Conall wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:49 pm
See above for answer on that one! I'm too old to start cello for now!!
But then no matter how many strings you put on it and despite being able to play the cello suites note for note and in the original key -- the guitar isn't and never will be a cello. It seems that some people sometimes want the guitar to be things that it isn't. I think six-string transcriptions that accept the character and limitations of the guitar are preferable. Just my opinion.

isaac_suit6
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Re: Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

Post by isaac_suit6 » Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:17 pm

Conall wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:37 pm
If you need convincing here's Drew playing Bach on his 8 string: https://youtu.be/6emElQDVqF4
Thanks for sharing this! Funny, I've must have missed the memo, but this is the first time I've heard of an eight-string guitar. Heard of 7 and 10 strings, but never eight. I must have been living under a rock!
Cheers,
isaac_suit6

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AndreiKrylov
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Re: Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

Post by AndreiKrylov » Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:31 pm

my normal guitar is 7 string, but I do play 8 string sometimes too.
For classical music (medieval, baroque etc ) it is nice.
but ..
1.if one wants to play flamenco, folk, pop - there is a problem..
rasgueados with open string and strumming chords not possible... since chords changed because of more strings...
2. also for some hands neck becoming too wide...
3. directing fingers of right hand becoming more complicated than 6 strings
4. for someone who played 6 string for years changing to 8 is often difficult new mentality exercise..

therefore it is nice instrument! but it will never be as popular as 6 string...
I'd better speak by music...Please listen my guitar at Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, etc.

Conall
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Re: Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

Post by Conall » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:07 pm

ddray wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:59 pm
Conall wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:49 pm
See above for answer on that one! I'm too old to start cello for now!!
But then no matter how many strings you put on it and despite being able to play the cello suites note for note and in the original key -- the guitar isn't and never will be a cello. It seems that some people sometimes want the guitar to be things that it isn't. I think six-string transcriptions that accept the character and limitations of the guitar are preferable. Just my opinion.
Fair enough, if that's your opinion!
I guess my view is why accept the limitations of 6 strings when with just one or 2 more you can suddenly be more faithful to the music itself while keeping most of the character of the instrument?
If one doesn't care about regularly sticking bass notes at octaves different from the original often breaking melodic lines or leaving them out altogether -
what's the point in scholarship & research in a desire to find the "best" i.e. most accurate version of a "lute" work by Bach or the search for & expense of the "urtext" edition of the same work? Or why bother going back to the facsimiles to get "what Bach actually wrote / wanted?
I'm not looking to play Baroque lute or cello: I just want a guitar that can play (especially) Bach's music more convincingly than a 6 string without the extreme change of 10 or more strings. I still think 8 or even 7 strings can do this without altering my technique too radically and even for just the lute works it would be worth doing.

Rasputin
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Re: Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

Post by Rasputin » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:26 pm

Conall wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:58 pm
I found that if I tune the low E 6th to C and the A 5th to G I can play the suites from the bass clef cello music directly on a 6 string guitar. In fact in doing so I have at my disposal 3 of the cello's open strings (C,G,D) and so can play the third (C major) and fifth suites (C minor) in a more faithful & effective way than a 6 string guitar tuned normally. I can even play all the internal open string pedal notes in the original scores. I have also experimented with tuning the 2nd string down to A - to gain the cello's 1st open string - and used this tuning (C,G,D,G,A,E or D) to play the famous first suite in it's original G major. The open A 2nd string allows one of the pedal passages at the end of the prelude.
Does anybody have any comments on the tuning D A E [G/G#] B [E/F#] for playing music written for the cello? I would pretend it was a tone lower, obviously. I am not sure whether it is safe to tune the D and high E strings up a whole tone, or whether they might snap or damage the guitar.

Conall
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Re: Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

Post by Conall » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:27 pm

:evil:
AndreiKrylov wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:31 pm
my normal guitar is 7 string, but I do play 8 string sometimes too.
For classical music (medieval, baroque etc ) it is nice.
but ..
1.if one wants to play flamenco, folk, pop - there is a problem..
rasgueados with open string and strumming chords not possible... since chords changed because of more strings...
2. also for some hands neck becoming too wide...
3. directing fingers of right hand becoming more complicated than 6 strings
4. for someone who played 6 string for years changing to 8 is often difficult new mentality exercise..

therefore it is nice instrument! but it will never be as popular as 6 string...
Yes I accept that a 7 or 8 string will not be best for music originally written for 6 stringed guitar.

Also it's possibly not great for new Spanish or flamenco influenced music that is yet to be composed either as we are so accustomed to the sound of the 6 stringed Spanish guitar for that music.

But avont-garde / modern guitar composers of today might like to explore the added sonoroties & range of an 8 string guitar.

But it's mainly Early music I would be using it for.

And I'm not afraid of the mental & physical challenge of adapting to a slightly expanded range guitar.

And yes, I accept 8 strings will never be as popular as 6 - (or classical guitar as popular as electric either). I just wish 8 string guitars were popular enough for more lutheirs & guitar manufacturers to provide a larger & more easily available choice at all price points so I can try & buy one more easily!

Conall
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Re: Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

Post by Conall » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:28 pm

Sorry, think I posted that post twice by mistake!

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