Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

Talk about things that are not necessarily related to music or the guitar.
es335
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Re: Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

Post by es335 » Sat Jan 20, 2018 12:37 pm

Ceciltguitar wrote:
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.......
The different color of the Aranjuez Bronze (!) 7th string is just a secondary feature. The most amazing thing is that it can be de-tuned from D down to A below and thus is what it was designed for. I remember having used 4 of these strings for the low bass strings on my 10 string in romantic tuning and this felt and sounded better than the other clumsy 10 string bass extension sets I had tried before! :wink:

BTW as long as Aranjuez takes to recover their production you might consider other bronze low E strings from La Bella or Hannabach for instance. They will not be equivalent in flexibility but at least in color! :wink: :D

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

Post by Conall » Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:41 pm

Oh well, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree guys. But as I said, that's fine, different strokes etc.

I've answered some of the points above already...

I agree with you all that the 6 string guitar is the best instrument for music written for the 6 string guitar. However nothing before the classical period of Sor, Giuliani, Carcassi etc was written for our 6 string guitar. Guitar music before the mid-late 18th century was written for a very different instrument, the Baroque guitar with it's weird re-entrant tuning (the guitar of de Visee & others).
So anytime we play Baroque guitar music by de Visee, Sanz or vihuela music by Narvaez or Milan or Baroque lute music by Weiss or Renaissance lute music by Dowland or (most un-guitar like of all) the lautenwerk gut-strung harpsichord music of Bach....we are playing transcriptions & arrangements - & often poor ones at that, that fairly drastically change the original music to fit on our 6 string guitar, changing keys, putting bits up & down the 8ve, missing out bits altogether or adding bits that were never there in the first place, changing the original phrasing & articulation of the original etc.

So what do we do? Put up with the above? Avoid early music altogether? Or do we all have to spend a fortune on buying a collection of early instruments, all very different and spend another lifetime trying to learn them?

Or do we only buy one extra instrument almost identical to our beloved 6 string guitar save for one or 2 extra strings so that we can play a considerably larger proportion of this fantastic early music at least somewhat more faithfully (more complete / correct bass lines at least)?

I'll admit that if I was 20 years younger I would be seriously tempted to put up with trying to get to grips with 10-13 strings for early music but in my middle age I'd like a less drastic change from my 6 string.

I guess I still don't see why there is little interest among accomplished guitarists who love early music as much as I do in at least trying a guitar with a slightly larger range. But if there isn't I'll just have to plough a lonely furrow....or whatever that silly expression is....

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

Post by ddray » Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:56 pm

Conall wrote:
Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:41 pm
...

I'll admit that if I was 20 years younger I would be seriously tempted to put up with trying to get to grips with 10-13 strings for early music but in my middle age I'd like a less drastic change from my 6 string.

I guess I still don't see why there is little interest among accomplished guitarists who love early music as much as I do in at least trying a guitar with a slightly larger range. But if there isn't I'll just have to plough a lonely furrow....or whatever that silly expression is....
Well Conall, I don't really have *that* much of a beef with you or with extra-strung guitars. You present your case well enough and I've heard some terrific playing on such instruments. And who knows, one of those varieties may become the standard on down the road. If it does it will probably be an "organic" thing to fill need and demand, the way the piano and woodwinds evolved. Be patient. :D

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

Post by prawnheed » Sun Jan 21, 2018 12:31 am

Conall wrote:
Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:41 pm
Oh well, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree guys. But as I said, that's fine, different strokes etc.

I've answered some of the points above already...

I agree with you all that the 6 string guitar is the best instrument for music written for the 6 string guitar. However nothing before the classical period of Sor, Giuliani, Carcassi etc was written for our 6 string guitar. Guitar music before the mid-late 18th century was written for a very different instrument, the Baroque guitar with it's weird re-entrant tuning (the guitar of de Visee & others).
So anytime we play Baroque guitar music by de Visee, Sanz or vihuela music by Narvaez or Milan or Baroque lute music by Weiss or Renaissance lute music by Dowland or (most un-guitar like of all) the lautenwerk gut-strung harpsichord music of Bach....we are playing transcriptions & arrangements - & often poor ones at that, that fairly drastically change the original music to fit on our 6 string guitar, changing keys, putting bits up & down the 8ve, missing out bits altogether or adding bits that were never there in the first place, changing the original phrasing & articulation of the original etc.

So what do we do? Put up with the above? Avoid early music altogether? Or do we all have to spend a fortune on buying a collection of early instruments, all very different and spend another lifetime trying to learn them?

Or do we only buy one extra instrument almost identical to our beloved 6 string guitar save for one or 2 extra strings so that we can play a considerably larger proportion of this fantastic early music at least somewhat more faithfully (more complete / correct bass lines at least)?

I'll admit that if I was 20 years younger I would be seriously tempted to put up with trying to get to grips with 10-13 strings for early music but in my middle age I'd like a less drastic change from my 6 string.

I guess I still don't see why there is little interest among accomplished guitarists who love early music as much as I do in at least trying a guitar with a slightly larger range. But if there isn't I'll just have to plough a lonely furrow....or whatever that silly expression is....
I think we actually agree on the answer to the question you posed - the reason they are not more popular is that they fulfill a niche.

For you, that is an important niche. For me, less so.

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

Post by Conall » Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:58 pm

Well I'm glad to report that I won't be boring you all with this topic for another while (unless prompted 😀) as I managed to find a cheap 2nd hand "Orfea" 8 string on e - b a y & risked buying it.

I got it with 2 very thick 7th & 8th low strings so I've not risked tuning them up to D & C below 6th E and instead I'm just now leaving them at C & G below.

The result is a very resonant guitar with a range a 6th lower than a normal 6 string. It's quite a challenge trying to get used to it but I'm already loving the deep basses (particularly in Weiss descending bass lines) and wish I'd tried one before!

Thanks again to all your contributions, even from those less well disposed to the idea of extra bass strings.

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

Post by CJguitar » Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:49 pm

Conall wrote:
Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:58 pm
Well I'm glad to report that I won't be boring you all with this topic for another while (unless prompted 😀) as I managed to find a cheap 2nd hand "Orfea" 8 string on e - b a y & risked buying it.

I got it with 2 very thick 7th & 8th low strings so I've not risked tuning them up to D & C below 6th E and instead I'm just now leaving them at C & G below.

The result is a very resonant guitar with a range a 6th lower than a normal 6 string. It's quite a challenge trying to get used to it but I'm already loving the deep basses (particularly in Weiss descending bass lines) and wish I'd tried one before!

Thanks again to all your contributions, even from those less well disposed to the idea of extra bass strings.
I know this topic has pretty much concluded, but I wanted to post some side-by-side images I took when I experimented with an 8 string for a (very) short while.

Image

Image

Image

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

Post by Conall » Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:30 pm

Nice looking guitars. Which brand / maker / price? What did the 8 string sound like? What was the tuning?

P.s. the topic ain't finished until people stop contributing! Thanks for the pics!

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

Post by CJguitar » Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:23 pm

Conall wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:30 pm
Nice looking guitars. Which brand / maker / price? What did the 8 string sound like? What was the tuning?

P.s. the topic ain't finished until people stop contributing! Thanks for the pics!
The six string is a 2015 Kenny Hill New World Player 640S and the 8 string was a Milagro MRS8 valued at $2,800. The tuning was a standard 8 string fare; F#, B, E, A, D, G, B, E. I thought about changing the string to have a low B for the 8th string and a high A for the first string, but I didn't have it long enough to try it.

You can purchase Milagro expanded range guitars at bartolexusa[dot]com

Both guitars in the photos have a European spruce top with Indian Rosewood back & sides.

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

Post by Conall » Tue Jan 30, 2018 3:43 pm

Yes I hear the Milagros are good.

....need to save up!

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

Post by fretter » Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:00 pm

I've a friend who plays Dowland and plentiful lute music magically on a 6 string. He owns and can play 8 and 12-string guitars but prefers the 6 for lute pieces. He's open to the "spirit" of the piece and probably arranges as he goes, and it's more of an intellectual process. I'm not advanced enough to explain it. However, it does come down to personal taste.

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

Post by Conall » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:18 pm

fretter wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:00 pm
I've a friend who plays Dowland and plentiful lute music magically on a 6 string. He owns and can play 8 and 12-string guitars but prefers the 6 for lute pieces. He's open to the "spirit" of the piece and probably arranges as he goes, and it's more of an intellectual process. I'm not advanced enough to explain it. However, it does come down to personal taste.
Yes I know Dowland & Bach etc can sound very well on a 6 string but I have to confess, once you try the deep basses of 8-13 string guitars it's very easy to get addicted to the wonderful "basso profundo" effect of those instruments. I've bought a very reasonably priced 8 string and have experimented with different tunings and come away thinking I'll find it hard to go back to 6 strings for Baroque & Renaissance music!

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

Post by JohnH » Mon Feb 19, 2018 2:06 am

I feel cheated by the limited low range of a 6 string classical guitar is that I sing down to Bb1 ( two ledger lines below the bass staff).
I have Jerry Willard's transcription of Bach's Lute Suites. There are notes with 8's below them indicating the original pitch was an octave below.
I would like to play the those notes in the original octave instead of being constrained by six strings.

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

Post by Conall » Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:11 pm

JohnH wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 2:06 am
I feel cheated by the limited low range of a 6 string classical guitar is that I sing down to Bb1 ( two ledger lines below the bass staff).
I have Jerry Willard's transcription of Bach's Lute Suites. There are notes with 8's below them indicating the original pitch was an octave below.
I would like to play the those notes in the original octave instead of being constrained by six strings.
Yes I agree.

I recently dug out my copy of the Bärenreiter edition of Bach's lute works (which attempts to show exactly what Bach wrote as opposed to what happens in a guitar edition). I decided to investigate how far guitar editions such as Willard's depart from the originals. I started with the E minor lute suite BWV 996. Like you, I'd previously noticed there were some notes in other editions that had been placed up an octave (along with other changes). I was amazed to see just how many changes there were, particularly in the opening movement with whole chords put up an octave, some notes omitted etc.
So I tried to play the work as notated in the Bärenreiter edition - on my 8 string guitar (7th = D, 8th = C) and found that, though by no means easy, it was possible to play the notes almost exactly as written. Not only that but I thought the suite sounded better.

Having only recently bought the 8 string it has re-awakened my enthusiasm for the guitar and early music in particular. The extra basses sound wonderfully resonant & aid sympathetic resonance elsewhere too. As I mentioned previously in this thread I can now get closer to the music, much of it some of the greatest music by the greatest composers playable on (especially multi-string) guitar. My current tuning is perfect for Bach's cello suites at their original pitch or closer to it (the Eflat suite works better in E & I retune some of the other strings depending on the suite), better for the lute suites, add extra resonance to the violin partitas & sonatas, and works well for some music by Dowland & others.

My only problem now is I really want another 8 string tuned differently (eg G & C below 6th E) so I can play more of S.L. Weiss's low bass lines! Changing strings frequently is not really practical & tuning the low C to A or G is a step or 2 too far.

corsair49
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Re: Why are 8 string classical guitars not more popular?

Post by corsair49 » Tue Feb 20, 2018 1:18 am

That video of the piece sounded awesome. But I have my hands full with just 6 strings. :)

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

Post by JohnH » Tue Feb 20, 2018 1:37 am

That's where a 10 string guitar would come in handy.

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