I have been fortunate to be able to repair several high-quality 'Flamenco'
guitars from notable makers and consequently study in some detail the
materials and construction that typifies this instrument. One
particularly fine example by Manuel Reyes gave up many of it's secrets
upon careful examination and this is the guitar that I have based my
Blanca or Negra?
The traditional "white" or blanca
Flamenco guitar is made with Spanish Cypress back
and sides. These
guitars feel lighter, easier to play, and should have an immediate,
percussive sound. The use of Cypress wood enhances the typical "brittle" Flamenco sound
as the Cypress does little to reinforce the sustain.
The thickness of the table and the internal
of a flamenco guitar is different giving the sound the
characteristic bite that is a desirable feature of a flamenco
allows the guitar to be heard more easily above the song and dance.
Rosewood gives the "black" or Negra flamenco guitar
a wider tonal palette and greater sustain similar to that of classical guitar. However,
the correct design and construction of table will allow a skilled player
to push the guitar into a Flamenco sound.
The Flamenco Negra is proving very popular as a "crossover" or
instrument where the player needs a guitar to perform a fusion of styles
or genres. Nylon string guitars in Jazz, Celtic and South American
"Salsa" are becoming increasingly popular. Crossover can also
refer to a player who switches from steel to nylon strings and wants to
retain as much of the steel-string feel and sound as possible. Here,
the scale length and fingerboard dimensions can be adjusted accordingly as
required and a cutaway or stepped-neck can be used.
My Flamenco Guitar
First quality European Spruce soundboard (table) of selected for
it's looks and sound potential.
The table is thicknessed, graduated and braced to provide that
clear, brittle tone associated with Flamenco. A Cedar or Engelmann spruce soundboard is
also available if preferred.
A Cedar neck, quarter sawn and constructed
as a integral part of the body with a "Spanish heel". The
headstock can incorporate an insert of some
exotic wood to match the back-insert if included.
Spanish Cypress (Blanca) or Indian Rosewood (Negra) back and ribs selected for colour,
figure and density often incorporating a contrasting central insert
to the back of highly figured wood such as European Lacewood, Brazilian Ropala
Lacewood, Cherry, flamed Sycamore, English Walnut,
Yew or Tasmanian Blackwood.
African Ebony fingerboard, shaped to suit the sound
and feel that you need; carrying accurately positioned frets.
Optimum intonation is achieved with compensation at both nut and
Indian Rosewood bridge, with compensated bone saddle; the bridge is designed and constructed to minimise
weight and optimise energy transfer to the soundboard.
Hand-made rosette in natural
wood veneers with mosaic
inlay, real wood bindings with hand-made purfling. The guitar
pictured here has Brazilian Ropala Lacewood back-stripe and matching
Finished with Shellac French-polish.
String length 650 mm, 52 mm at the nut and 57.5mm
Upper bout 280 mm; lower bout 372 mm.
body length 490 mm.
Machine Heads (tuners) are handmade by Nicolo Alessi in
Italy or similar high-quality
Hannabach 827MT strings (normal tension)
Hiscox LiteFlite case.
(The guitar is) absolutely fantastic! I'm
really delighted with it - exactly what I wanted!! The woods and finish
are excellent (the bindings and inlays tastefully striking) and the feel
is so natural. I'm especially pleased with the neck, which is incredibly
comfortable, and the Alessi tuners suit the guitar perfectly. Even at this
early stage the sound is bold and warm but well-projecting: loads of
Spanish character. This really is an instrument which I feel will
give me a lot of freedom as a player, so thank you once again for your