'That Spanish sound'....meaning?...

Jeffrey Armbruster

'That Spanish sound'....meaning?...

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Sat Jan 06, 2018 11:25 pm

When people refer to 'that Spanish sound', do they mean that such guitars are good for playing 'Spanish' style repertoire, or do they mean that the guitars have the kind of construction and quality of tone that people admiringly refer to as 'Spanish'---that is, admirable? But all kinds of styles will sound good on it, without being inflected with a Spanish flavor. I hope that this clear, or meaningful. Maybe not!

I've always thought that since I don't play a lot of Spanish style music, why would I get a Ramirez? But this is likely just hazy thinking. My teacher has a Ramirez and he plays a lot of contemporary stuff that isn't thought of as being 'Spanish' in flavor.

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dta721
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Re: 'That Spanish sound'....meaning?...

Post by dta721 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:24 am

Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 11:25 pm
When people refer to 'that Spanish sound', do they mean that such guitars are good for playing 'Spanish' style repertoire, or do they mean that the guitars have the kind of construction and quality of tone that people admiringly refer to as 'Spanish'---that is, admirable?
...
Thanks for asking, as I have the same question myself!

When perusing this forum, I found this ad and some references to such Spanish sound:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=117056

"Hiroshi Komori maintained the more traditional guitar construction that he learned in the 1960s from Masaru Kohno and this is the reason his guitars sound more like the mid to late 1960s Masaru Kohno guitars...
...The guitar has a really nice warm and beautiful sound that represents its traditional Spanish construction

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOTiPmmkims"

Just my understanding so far :)

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petermc61
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Re: 'That Spanish sound'....meaning?...

Post by petermc61 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:00 am

I’ve heard the phrase many times but don’t quite know what it means or what it’s meant to mean. Madrid guitars nowadays don’t sound that much like Granada guitars. Modern Ramirez don’t sound much like older ones, like Ramirez I or Ramirez II.

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Michael.N.
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Re: 'That Spanish sound'....meaning?...

Post by Michael.N. » Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:13 am

And none of them sound like the Spanish guitars of the early 19 th century such as Pages. It's obviously a moving target.
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Re: 'That Spanish sound'....meaning?...

Post by simonm » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:58 am

“When I use the phrase Spanish sounding," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.”

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Re: 'That Spanish sound'....meaning?...

Post by celestemcc » Sun Jan 07, 2018 5:32 pm

Probably impossible to define... to some, it's the warm, dark, rich timbre of a cedar top, older Ramirez 1a (a classic example, but by far not the only one, and not to all ears).
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Re: 'That Spanish sound'....meaning?...

Post by Beowulf » Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:56 pm

Unless one subscribes to the view expressed by José Luis Romanillos:

"I believe the choice of spruce is the key factor in producing Spanish guitars; I know exactly what can be done with western red cedar: instead of using it to make Spanish guitars, leave it for making roofing shingles and garden sheds!"

"We have always fought, along with Marian, for the preservation of Spanish heritage. To me Santos was the second Torres and I think that the true Spanish guitar ends with him. Afterwards, Segovia came along with the Ramirez guitars and their soundboards made of cedar, and that's a different kettle of fish; a different sound, a different way of playing." (Orfeo Magazine No.5 - Spring 2015).

So, apart from the provocative views, it would appear that José Romanillos holds a traditional perspective on what constitutes a true "Spanish" guitar and its sound.
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Re: 'That Spanish sound'....meaning?...

Post by Michael.N. » Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:20 pm

But why not Sor, Aguado and the Spanish guitars of that period? You can take any period in time and proclaim it as the true Spanish sound. I guess that there are three broad periods of the Spanish guitar: Sor and the small guitars of that period, Torres/Tarrega and the birth of the larger modern guitar, Segovia and the Madrid school of larger cedar guitars.
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Re: 'That Spanish sound'....meaning?...

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:35 pm

So there are many 'Spanish sounds' but the over-arching commonality might be that it is rich, complex tone produced by construction that can seen to descend from Torres; it invites plenty of tonal contrast, its probably not awfully loud or even ... its Bream rather than Williams.
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Re: 'That Spanish sound'....meaning?...

Post by Beowulf » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:42 pm

Michael.N. wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:20 pm
But why not Sor, Aguado and the Spanish guitars of that period? You can take any period in time and proclaim it as the true Spanish sound. I guess that there are three broad periods of the Spanish guitar: Sor and the small guitars of that period, Torres/Tarrega and the birth of the larger modern guitar, Segovia and the Madrid school of larger cedar guitars.
Why not indeed...and actually in the museum that Romanillos has set up in the Casa del Doncel, there are 5 centuries represented. I guess he doesn't like cedar all that much and is kind of a "spruce" man. Nevertheless, it should be kept in mind that his views are represented in brief excerpts from interviews and thus certain comments may have been included and others left out. I think that as the "Spanish" guitar moved out onto the world stage, into larger and larger performance venues and into new compositions and musical styles, the construction, materials and "sound" changed and adapted to new tastes and performance requirements. Romanillos is perhaps expressing a nostalgia for a particular period in the Spanish guitar's history. I guess that like language, the "Spanish" sound has evolved.
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Re: 'That Spanish sound'....meaning?...

Post by sxedio » Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:22 pm

Segovia himself switched to the german made Hauser in the 30s, that must have made the 'spanish vs other' sound more obvious especially given recordings and his extensive touring.
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Re: 'That Spanish sound'....meaning?...

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:18 pm

In any case, from the replies it would seem that the 'sound' refers to a type of construction (or the sound itself) rather than referring to a guitar that is appropriate to a style of repertoire.

I have a Takemine that's based on a Torrres design and a luthier built guitar based on a Hauser design--and they're very different guitars for sure. But of course, they would be no matter what! (cedar vs. spruce etc.) I didn't even know that I had a Spanish sounding guitar (Takemine)--if I do...until a week ago. It turns out I like Bach played on the Tach just fine.

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Re: 'That Spanish sound'....meaning?...

Post by Taylor 25 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 12:58 am

No doubt that the expression "that Spanish sound" is subjective. However, I agree with celestemcc. IMO, a "Spanish sounding" guitar has a warmer, slightly darker tone, with beautiful timbre and rich trebles. Whereas a "modern" guitar has a bit more of a neutral, clean sound.

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Re: 'That Spanish sound'....meaning?...

Post by petermc61 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 6:47 am

Taylor 25 wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 12:58 am
No doubt that the expression "that Spanish sound" is subjective. However, I agree with celestemcc. IMO, a "Spanish sounding" guitar has a warmer, slightly darker tone, with beautiful timbre and rich trebles. Whereas a "modern" guitar has a bit more of a neutral, clean sound.
Sounds more like a ‘cedar Ramirez’ sound. A spruce Antonio Marin Montero sound nothing like that and is equally Spanish.

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Re: 'That Spanish sound'....meaning?...

Post by DerekB » Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:12 am

Miles Roberts of Kent Guitar Classics has produced a video comparing English, French and Spanish guitars. It probably won't get you much nearer an answer but it is very interesting. It is freely available online.
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