what is the difference between Classical and Flamenco Guitars?
With the rise in popularity of acoustic music within
the last decade, many older styles of music have been gaining attention
in more mainstream music. For instance with "Latin Boom"
heralded by artists like Ricky Martin and Enrique Englasias, Spanish
and Afro-Cuban music has gained a renewed sense of popularity. Thus,
we've seen many guitarists come into the store looking for nylon
string guitars that communicate the flavor of these musics effectively.
Inevitable the question comes up: Is this a Flamenco guitar or a
The difference can historically be traced back to Spain. Classical
guitar, as performed by Andre Segovia and composed by De Falla,
Tarrega, and further back Fernando Sor, was enjoyed by the upper
class. Flamenco music, which developed in southern Spain, was more
"Folk" and considered slightly lower class. Stylistically,
the two have as many differences as they do similarities. Flamenco
music developed out of a dance and singing style that was rhythmically
aggressive. Classical guitar music was more influenced by other
composers who primarily worked out of the standard European tradition.
It only makes sense that the instruments used by these two genres
would differ to better suit their respective styles.
Classical Guitar Great Eliot Fisk
Classical guitars are the most common found instruments when shopping
for nylon string guitars. They feature slotted head stocks, 2"
wide fingerboards, cedar or spruce tops, and typically rosewood
back and sides. They are designed for contra-punctal music, with
two or more lines moving about each other. They respond well from
a soft dynamic touch, to a loud strong attack. The tone should be
full-bodied and well defined across all registers. Many design advancements
have been made through the years, with some exclusive builders such
as Thomas Humphry changing many of the construction standards utilized
from as far back as the 18th century. Still, a strong element of
tradition remains with this style of instrument. For further listening,
artists such as Julian Bream, Eliot Fisk, Sharon Isbin, LA Guitar
Quartet and of course Andre Segovia represent the pinnacle of classical
guitar style and technique.
Originating in southern Spain, Flamenco music is a savvy combination
of dance, singing, and guitar based music influenced by Moorish,
Mediterranean, and more traditional European musics. Flamenco guitar
technique involves a more aggressive right hand technique. To accommodate
this technique, square pickguards can be seen on both sides of the
soundhole to protect the top, which is usually spruce. Sycamore
back and sides give
Flamenco Legend: Paco de Lucia
flamenco guitars a brighter sound which suits the style well. Lately
however, many "Flamenco Negra" have become popular, utilizing
rosewood back and sides for a deeper tone. Historically, a flat
head stock with friction pegs topped the instrument off, but many
instruments are now moving towards geared tuners. From the front
of the instrument it looks very similar, but a side view reveals
the slightly thinner body. All of these elements combine to produce
a very light and responsive instrument with a bright percussive
tone. For those interested in finding out more about Flamenco music,
check out the Gypsy Kings, Paco Pena, and the fantastic Spanish
movie "Vengo", which features all manners of flamenco.
If you have any more questions regarding nylon string guitars,
email us or call us.
Our knowledgeable staff is always available to answer your questions.