Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

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

Post by David Norton » Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:43 pm

Here's one I did a few years ago, on a different (long-sold) 8-string.

[media]https://youtu.be/bf7RD5ewisE[/media]

Nice guitar and good sound, but if you look carefully you see the 7 & 8 strings are quite crowded together at the nut, which made fretting them too difficult for my sausage-fingers.
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Re: Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

Post by soltirefa » Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:05 pm

Nice guitar and good sound, but if you look carefully you see the 7 & 8 strings are quite crowded together at the nut, which made fretting them too difficult for my sausage-fingers.
My fingers have been likened to Jimmy Dean breakfast sausages, so I know what you're talking about.

Remind me the scale on that guitar. Other than the two lowest basses crammed together it seems very nice.

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

Post by David Norton » Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:21 pm

This one (the Hippner cutaway) has a 570mm scale. Spruce top, quilted maple B&S. Sold because I couldn't comfortably fret 7th without striking 8th with the nail-side of my LH fingers, and thereby creating an undesired and twangy soft low "D" to resonate

The first one, by Joseph Redman, non-cutaway, is 625mm, spruce, padauk B&S.
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Re: Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

Post by Conall » Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:47 pm

David Norton wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:21 pm
This one (the Hippner cutaway) has a 570mm scale. Spruce top, quilted maple B&S. Sold because I couldn't comfortably fret 7th without striking 8th with the nail-side of my LH fingers, and thereby creating an undesired and twangy soft low "D" to resonate

The first one, by Joseph Redman, non-cutaway, is 625mm, spruce, padauk B&S.
Thanks for that David.

The Redman is certainly an attractive looking guitar and you play your pieces well but the sound quality of the recording (if you don't mind me saying so) seems a little thin, at least on my computer. One of the reasons I keep putting off posting on YouTube is I have yet to get around to recording something to my satisfaction due to my not yet being familiar enough with the recorder I have / synching it to my video equipment!

But it's good of you to post these so thanks again.

Oh and thanks also for your comments about the other guitar - useful to know I should watch out for width of nut / spacing between strings.

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

Post by David Norton » Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:21 pm

Conall wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:47 pm

The Redman is certainly an attractive looking guitar and you play your pieces well but the sound quality of the recording (if you don't mind me saying so) seems a little thin, at least on my computer.
Yeah, my Flip camcorder isn't the best by any means. It wasn't the best in 2009 when I bought it, which is an epoch in tech years. I'm just not enough of an audiophile (technophile?) to be motivated to upgrade, to learn how to sync external videos to remote sound, etc. If my PLAYING ever gets to the point that I think it's worth the effort to do it, I may consider it. For now, I will stick tot he playing aspect.
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Re: Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

Post by Conall » Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:36 pm

David Norton wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:21 pm
Conall wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:47 pm

The Redman is certainly an attractive looking guitar and you play your pieces well but the sound quality of the recording (if you don't mind me saying so) seems a little thin, at least on my computer.
Yeah, my Flip camcorder isn't the best by any means. It wasn't the best in 2009 when I bought it, which is an epoch in tech years. I'm just not enough of an audiophile (technophile?) to be motivated to upgrade, to learn how to sync external videos to remote sound, etc. If my PLAYING ever gets to the point that I think it's worth the effort to do it, I may consider it. For now, I will stick tot he playing aspect.
Well thanks for posting anyway David. The more information I get before leaping into multiple string land the better!

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

Post by Sandan » Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:22 am

I find this discussion very interesting. I’ve never played any seven nor eight string guitar although I’ve been contemplating to buy one for too long.

Why do so many pieces are played with drop D... well we love the deep low sound of the D string vs. The regular D string, but we sometimes missed the opened E string. Won’t it be nice to have the two extra open basses as options regardless what notes they were tuned into?

Some of the purists will say it is the lack of skills that leads to desire for the open strings. However, these extra low notes are always available for piano, can we compare six string guitar to playing piano by ignoring the availability of those beautiful low notes. For myself, if the musics produced are satisfying then why not? I still can’t believe that we can argue these options are not desirable, why do guitarists have to deal with impossible finger stretch if we don’t have to?
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Re: Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

Post by soltirefa » Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:42 am

Why do so many pieces are played with drop D... well we love the deep low sound of the D string vs. The regular D string, but we sometimes missed the opened E string. Won’t it be nice to have the two extra open basses as options regardless what notes they were tuned into?
This was the reasoning that convinced me to get a 7-string. Having low D as the 7th string and the open E can be very helpful. However, sometimes it can actually make things harder. You have to take each piece on a case by case basis. Many times an arranger uses a drop D tuning so that basses like F and G are higher up on the neck and can be played along with a melody note higher up, too. But when D is the 7th string it means a slightly harder reach than if it were the 6th string, and it can actually make a drop D piece harder than if it were just on a 6-string.

But you can always tune the 6th string to D and have the 7th be low C, etc. in order to play pieces where it's better to have 6=D.

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

Post by JohnH » Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:50 am

Sandan wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:22 am
I still can’t believe that we can argue these options are not desirable, why do guitarists have to deal with impossible finger stretch if we don’t have to?
I wonder if you hold a guitar vertically and use a spike to reach the floor like a cello (e.g., Brahms guitar), couldn't you use the thumb position to maximize the reach, similar to the cello?

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

Post by Ceciltguitar » Fri Jan 19, 2018 3:25 am

David, thank you for sharing the tip about using the Aranjuez Gold 7th string! I have long been interested in trying a 7 string guitar, so a year or 2 ago I stumbled across a relatively inexpensive Godin nylon string cutaway 7 string guitar and sprang for it. From the beginning I wished I had a different color string for the 7th string. I feel so stupid, so baffled, so tricked (is it an optical illusion?) so uncoordinated, so always-one-string-off both fretting and plucking strings 4 - 7 when I play that guitar! And then, after I play it, I have trouble going back to the 6 string instrument. Admittedly, I have not played it much. I thought that I would like it for the Bach 3rd Cello Suite. However, like the OP, I have played the piece with 6th string tuned to C and 5th string tuned to G for so long that it would be a major ordeal to re-learn the whole darn Suite over again playing the 7 string instrument. I don't have the luxury of time to start over. I should just sell the instrument. I don't have time to do that either. ha-ha. Maybe I will try the Aranjuez Gold 7th string.......

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

Post by Conall » Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:49 am

Sandan wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:22 am
I find this discussion very interesting. I’ve never played any seven nor eight string guitar although I’ve been contemplating to buy one for too long.

Why do so many pieces are played with drop D... well we love the deep low sound of the D string vs. The regular D string, but we sometimes missed the opened E string. Won’t it be nice to have the two extra open basses as options regardless what notes they were tuned into?

Some of the purists will say it is the lack of skills that leads to desire for the open strings. However, these extra low notes are always available for piano, can we compare six string guitar to playing piano by ignoring the availability of those beautiful low notes. For myself, if the musics produced are satisfying then why not? I still can’t believe that we can argue these options are not desirable, why do guitarists have to deal with impossible finger stretch if we don’t have to?
Precisely.
7 or 8 strings for early music, dropped D when practical and more faithful transcriptions!
6 strings for everything else.
That's what I propose for advanced amateurs & pros anyway.
But if most classical guitarists hate that idea, OK it's a free world but I wish there was a wider choice of these instruments more easily available for those who like / want it!

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

Post by joachim33 » Sat Jan 20, 2018 7:21 am

Conall wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:28 pm
- Lastly, the excessive right hand span of 10+ string "harp" guitars is avoided as well as the restriction of playing low strings open (which impacts on expressive techniques such as vibrato & portamento).
You should read up on Narciso Yepes and his way of playing and tuning his instrument. I have never heared BWV 995 like that. I just posted a separate article on this. His tuning is way more than just adding bass strings.

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

Post by ddray » Sat Jan 20, 2018 9:49 am

Conall wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:49 am

Precisely.
7 or 8 strings for early music, dropped D when practical and more faithful transcriptions!
6 strings for everything else.
That's what I propose for advanced amateurs & pros anyway.
But if most classical guitarists hate that idea, OK it's a free world but I wish there was a wider choice of these instruments more easily available for those who like / want it!
But they're already available. What you seem to want is a different standard involving more than 6 strings, otherwise if someone plays publicly and the repertoire consists of a mix of Baroque and modern, then they'd have to switch guitars like Baroque flutists switch their corps de rechange...unless you mean that the guitarist stays put on the usual six for more modern works.
Here is one problem I have with the whole 8+ string thing; it may be THE problem I have with it. I won't glorify myself by calling myself a "musician", but as someone who plays music one of the pleasures I get from listening to a piano or guitar performance is thinking "you know, I might be able to play that also in my own way one day..." since that artist is playing essentially the same instrument that I am. I don't play a 7, 8 or 10 string guitar. I love to listen to the performances of Yepes, Drew Henderson and Paul Galbraith but they're in their own remote, extra-strung worlds if that makes sense. If we can all agree on a standard of 10 strings that would be fine, we'd go from there. And they truly sound great. But we don't all have them in common.

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

Post by prawnheed » Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:22 am

Conall wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:49 am
Sandan wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:22 am
I find this discussion very interesting. I’ve never played any seven nor eight string guitar although I’ve been contemplating to buy one for too long.

Why do so many pieces are played with drop D... well we love the deep low sound of the D string vs. The regular D string, but we sometimes missed the opened E string. Won’t it be nice to have the two extra open basses as options regardless what notes they were tuned into?

Some of the purists will say it is the lack of skills that leads to desire for the open strings. However, these extra low notes are always available for piano, can we compare six string guitar to playing piano by ignoring the availability of those beautiful low notes. For myself, if the musics produced are satisfying then why not? I still can’t believe that we can argue these options are not desirable, why do guitarists have to deal with impossible finger stretch if we don’t have to?
Precisely.
7 or 8 strings for early music, dropped D when practical and more faithful transcriptions!
6 strings for everything else.
That's what I propose for advanced amateurs & pros anyway.
But if most classical guitarists hate that idea, OK it's a free world but I wish there was a wider choice of these instruments more easily available for those who like / want it!
I'm still not getting the point. The best case I can extract from this is that there exists a very tiny niche where an 8 string is needed in order to "better" copy music that was written a very long time ago for other instruments which are themselves readily obtainable.

That 8 string is less suited than a 6 string guitar for playing the majority of works that exist for the classical guitar.

If that really is the case, then I'd say the choice of 8 strings is likely to remain limited.

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

Post by ddray » Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:36 am

prawnheed wrote:
Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:22 am

I'm still not getting the point. The best case I can extract from this is that there exists a very tiny niche where an 8 string is needed in order to "better" copy music that was written a very long time ago for other instruments which are themselves readily obtainable.
Yeah, I agree. If you want to play Bach's cello suites faithfully according to the score, get yourself a cello and learn to play it. A transcription for 8-string isn't going to be any more faithful than one for 6. They're both guitars, not cellos.

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