Alhambra high end instruments - action

ObiWanSymbian
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Alhambra high end instruments - action

Post by ObiWanSymbian » Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:14 am

Hi there,

you might have noticed that I'm a newbie in the world of classical guitars.
Still trying to master the higher action with rather a good result.
Still, from time to time I come across an instrument of unbelievably high action (above 4 mm).
That was the case with an Alhambra 11P cedar.
What's even more interesting was that the saddle was already really, really thin. Only ca. 2 mm above the slot. The only feasible option of lowering the action would be the nut filling...

Do you have similar experience?
Or maybe, some instruments, by design, are supposed to have the lowest possible action at this level?
The instrument played really well in terms of tone, intonation and projection - to give you a fuller picture.

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SeanWinkler
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Re: Alhambra high end instruments - action

Post by SeanWinkler » Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:21 am

4mm on the low E at the 12th fret is about the max people seem to accept these days, but the norm has varied over time. There are all kinds of reasons for high action, and it's not uncommon to find, even in very expensive instruments. In terms of the 11P specifically, I actually own one, and the action on mine is perfect. Currently 2.75mm on the high E and just under 4mm on the low E. Here is what the saddle looks like:

Image

The shadows/focus may not help to see this, but there is room to go up or down. This particular 11P was part of a limited run for the 12th Fret guitar shop (40th anniversary model), so I do think it received more attention than a standard factory model. The label is signed by the luthier who oversaw the run, and I don't believe they usually sign the 11P.
Remember Anthony Weller, please help. Contact myself or Aaron Green for details.

ObiWanSymbian
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Re: Alhambra high end instruments - action

Post by ObiWanSymbian » Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:47 pm

From what I see the saddle is similar to the one I saw.
The guitar would sing like and angel, though, and she's still very high on my list..;-)
Ho would do you like the instrument?
Do you use it with high tension strings?
What is your repertoire?

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SeanWinkler
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Re: Alhambra high end instruments - action

Post by SeanWinkler » Tue Jun 12, 2018 5:49 pm

ObiWanSymbian wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:47 pm
From what I see the saddle is similar to the one I saw.
The guitar would sing like and angel, though, and she's still very high on my list..;-)
Ho would do you like the instrument?
Do you use it with high tension strings?
What is your repertoire?
In terms of the current saddle height, I feel like I could lower it at least another 1-2mm (treble to bass), but I'm not sure at what point it might start buzzing. The current 2.75mm action on the high E is about as low as I ever go.

I think it sounds great, but the body dimensions are a bit on the large side for me. I tend to prefer slightly smaller bodies like Torres/Hauser/Romanillos style. I actually traded with the 12th Fret shop for this one, in part because I knew someone looking for something in this price range, but he went with something else. That's why I have it listed for sale here. Having said that, I'm in no hurry to sell. It's different from my other guitars, and it's good to have variety.

I actually prefer lower tension strings in general. Right now it has Dogal Diamante NR127A (soft) which sound fantastic. I've tried a variety of strings, and I may go back to a standard nylon treble like Augustine.

I play a range of repertoire from Renaissance, Baroque, Classical (Sor/Giuliani), Romantic (Tarrega/Albeniz), to contemporary. To me, this guitar is a good overall player that would be an excellent choice for an advanced student, or as a gigging guitar for a professional. The separation of voices is very good for something in this price range, as is the projection. I've compared this special edition "exotico" to two other standard cedar-topped 11Ps, and I feel like there is a difference (but that could be wishful thinking or bias). I don't know a whole lot about red peroba as a tonewood, and I've only seen it used on Alhambra guitars. Still, my opinion is that it adds some sparkle an depth to the tone beyond the standard rosewood models.
Remember Anthony Weller, please help. Contact myself or Aaron Green for details.

ElleExtreme
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Re: Alhambra high end instruments - action

Post by ElleExtreme » Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:16 pm

Hi,
I have a 5P (so, not high end) from the early 90ies. Interestingly enough it also has a high (4.2 mm on lower E) action and not a lot of saddle (again, around 2 mm on mine as well). I think I'll find a more modern 5P and compare, it'd be interesting to know if they still make them as high, or even if mine was just a sort of exception. Maybe I'm too naive, but If I was the one mass producing guitars, I'd make my lower end ones have quite a low action to make it easier to play for beginners. Of course it's technically beneficial to practice on a higher one, but for someone not even familiar to the concept of action, they may find their guitars inexplicably more difficult than others, and thus maybe even "worse".
The guitar is a small orchestra. - Andres Segovia

Lovemyguitar
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Re: Alhambra high end instruments - action

Post by Lovemyguitar » Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:19 pm

ObiWanSymbian wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:14 am
...from time to time I come across an instrument of unbelievably high action (above 4 mm).
That was the case with an Alhambra 11P cedar.
What's even more interesting was that the saddle was already really, really thin. Only ca. 2 mm above the slot. The only feasible option of lowering the action would be the nut filling...

Do you have similar experience?...

The instrument played really well in terms of tone, intonation and projection - to give you a fuller picture.
I used to have an Alhambra 11P, which I bought new (in 2011), and it did come from the factory with ridiculously high action (5-6 mm). I had both the nut and the saddle filed down, and it was still over 4 mm, so I eventually had the bridge slightly shaved down to allow the saddle to be further lowered. At that point, it was finally comfortable to play, action-wise (with no buzzing whatsoever), however, it is a very solidly built guitar (over-built, in my estimation), and it always felt a bit too stiff for my liking, as if, even with the lower action, I had to somehow struggle with it (and I had low tension strings on it). The craftsmanship was impeccable, however.

The guitar sounded wonderful, in that is was very loud and resonant with beautiful tone, but, ultimately, it was too loud and boomy for my liking. As Sean Winkler said, the 11P has a larger body, which may cause some of its excessive loudness and overall sense of being a bit too big and unwieldly, but, like Sean, I also prefer a slightly smaller bodied, lightly built guitar along the lines of Hauser/Torres (the Alhambra 11P was my first "good" guitar, and I did not yet realise what my eventual preference would be, nor that the 11P was not it!).

The Alhambra 11P, I think, would be a great guitar for someone who likes a big, loud guitar, and who may even have a rather agressive playing style more suited to something so solidly built, but if your preference leans more towards subtlety and refinement (in both sound and instrument), then it may not be a good choice.

astro64
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Re: Alhambra high end instruments - action

Post by astro64 » Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:24 pm

If the saddle is 2mm above the slot in the bridge you do have room to go lower, as long as the break angle for the strings remains Ok. Easy to gain 0.5mm at the 12th fret by going down 1mm at the bridge. Lowering the nut slots would only affect the lower fret(s), it would do little to nothing for the action at the 12th fret. Unless the nut slots are much too high right now....

ObiWanSymbian
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Re: Alhambra high end instruments - action

Post by ObiWanSymbian » Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:26 am

Thank you all.
Very valuable replies.
Especially those on the size of the guitar. She did seem sort of "large", but this could have been my bias, because she was standing out from the crowd in terms of loudness and headroom.
Please remember that I'm converting from the world of dreadnoughts - everything seems small in the realm of classics;-))

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tormodg
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Re: Alhambra high end instruments - action

Post by tormodg » Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:43 am

I borrowed an 11P for a few months while waiting for a Linea Profesional. Both of these guitars had very high action from the factory, so I just replaced both saddles with smaller ones. I guess they are providing the tall saddles simply because the guitars are not adjusted to the individual player, so this should be taken care of after receiving the guitar.

Here is an interesting blog article on classical guitar bridge anatomy:
http://www.designofaclassicalguitar.com/bridge.php
2017 Yngvar Thomassen spruce
1994 Alhambra 6P (cedar, battered, broken and repaired)
+ various steel string and electric guitars

Sold: 2014 Alhambra Linea Profesional (spruce)

ObiWanSymbian
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Re: Alhambra high end instruments - action

Post by ObiWanSymbian » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:07 am

tormodg wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:43 am
I guess they are providing the tall saddles simply because the guitars are not adjusted to the individual player, so this should be taken care of after receiving the guitar.
The high action with a high bridge is something usual in classical and acoustic guitar.
I was slightly concerned about the 11P's high action with very little of bridge left to save off.

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Jacek A. Rochacki
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Re: Alhambra high end instruments - action

Post by Jacek A. Rochacki » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:06 am

I follow this thread with growing interest as Alhambra are quite popular in Poland, therefore many of us here are not taking under consideration other guitars; people who go for deeper research and they like Alhambra sound/flavour were often interested in - and switched to Paco Castillo - we have been writing much here on Paco Castillo, and we remember that the Master Jaime Julia Abad and his sons are people who have been working for Alhambra contributing strongly to process of improvement of the Alhambra guitars. Then because of some reasons they made their own Paco Castillo brand.

The sentence
The high action with a high bridge is something usual in classical and acoustic guitar.
may make the impression that classical=high action. Yes, some guitars like older Jose Ramirez 1A with their 664 mm scale and 53/54 mm width at nut are famous of their high action, but other guitars are set with lower action, lover then "standard" 4/3 mm. Also some luthiers are offering their guitars with TWO bone elements - saddle and nut - of different height. I read that some guitars build by Kathrin Hauser
are assembled from the beginning with lower then today's standard saddle and nut.

On the end I will modestly mention that my both guitars custom made for me by master Angel Genis at the Picado small workshop were with 3x and 2x heights at XIIh fret.
Antonio Picado, model 60, 2015, Cedar/IRW. Scale 640 mm.
Antonio Picado, model 62, 2018, Cedar/Madagascar Palosanto. Scale 640 mm. Doble Tapa.

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tormodg
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Re: Alhambra high end instruments - action

Post by tormodg » Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:50 pm

Alhambra actually mentions this specifically in their support FAQ:
http://www.alhambrausa.com/support/faq.html

(my emphasis below)
Alhambra wrote:Which is the most appropriate strings action for my guitar?
Strings action is one of the most common questions when talking about guitar adjustments because it is related to player's comfort. Strings action has been thoroughly checked in each Alhambra guitar in order to adjust it to certain parameters looking for a compromise between comfort and guitar's features, always based on experience and users' comments.

That is why we can find different heights in Alhambra guitars, according to classical, classical concert, flamenco, cut-away models,... Classical concert models, 8P, 9P, 10P and 11P, are used by players with a certain knowledge and level, so we use a height that lets them get the maximum features from the instrument with no inconvenience when playing. Their experience lets them get a stronger pulsation during a longer period of time. The traditional rule is: the bigger height, the stronger sound you get and, the smaller height, the better comfort (because the pressure put on the string is inferior).

However, it is important to mention that you cannot lower the strings all that you want, because there is a limit marked by buzzing problems. Alhambra classical studio guitars and for beginners have an inferior height than classical concert models, always looking for the above mentioned compromise between features and comfort according to the profile of the player buying these models.

On the other hand, we would like to mention that strings height in flamenco guitars is much lower than in classical models. In flamenco models, we obtain this height by using a certain angle in the neck, and not only by lowering the nut and the saddle.

Besides, you must bear in mind that flamenco players have a different technique than classical ones, so the appearance of buzzing does not represent a problem for them. (A player with a classical technique will always have buzzing problems with an authentic flamenco guitar).
2017 Yngvar Thomassen spruce
1994 Alhambra 6P (cedar, battered, broken and repaired)
+ various steel string and electric guitars

Sold: 2014 Alhambra Linea Profesional (spruce)

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spanishguitarmusic
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Re: Alhambra high end instruments - action

Post by spanishguitarmusic » Thu Jun 14, 2018 12:41 am

tormodg wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:50 pm
Alhambra actually mentions this specifically in their support FAQ:
http://www.alhambrausa.com/support/faq.html

(my emphasis below)
Alhambra wrote:Which is the most appropriate strings action for my guitar?
Strings action is one of the most common questions when talking about guitar adjustments because it is related to player's comfort. Strings action has been thoroughly checked in each Alhambra guitar in order to adjust it to certain parameters looking for a compromise between comfort and guitar's features, always based on experience and users' comments.

That is why we can find different heights in Alhambra guitars, according to classical, classical concert, flamenco, cut-away models,... Classical concert models, 8P, 9P, 10P and 11P, are used by players with a certain knowledge and level, so we use a height that lets them get the maximum features from the instrument with no inconvenience when playing. Their experience lets them get a stronger pulsation during a longer period of time. The traditional rule is: the bigger height, the stronger sound you get and, the smaller height, the better comfort (because the pressure put on the string is inferior).

However, it is important to mention that you cannot lower the strings all that you want, because there is a limit marked by buzzing problems. Alhambra classical studio guitars and for beginners have an inferior height than classical concert models, always looking for the above mentioned compromise between features and comfort according to the profile of the player buying these models.

On the other hand, we would like to mention that strings height in flamenco guitars is much lower than in classical models. In flamenco models, we obtain this height by using a certain angle in the neck, and not only by lowering the nut and the saddle.

Besides, you must bear in mind that flamenco players have a different technique than classical ones, so the appearance of buzzing does not represent a problem for them. (A player with a classical technique will always have buzzing problems with an authentic flamenco guitar).
A very nice read! :merci: for providing this article! :)

GuidoGitarist
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Re: Alhambra high end instruments - action

Post by GuidoGitarist » Fri Jul 13, 2018 9:16 am

I have a Perez luthier india abeto, which is made by mengual & margarit, the same luthier as the alhambra prof guitars have. That guitar also has high action, so that might be standard on all the high end guitars from these guitar builders. I had it lowered a bit for comfort when playing high on the neck.
2011 Perez Luthier India 'Abeto'
2017 Alhambra 4F Fishman E1

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