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The Classical Guitar

The terms classical guitar, concert guitar, master guitar, or Spanish guitar are different names for the same instrument. However, classical guitars are played with nylon strings, whereas acoustic or Western guitars are played with steel strings. Antonio de Torres (1817-1892), is regarded as the pioneer of modern guitar building. He is regarded as the decisive pioneer of modern guitar building. His instruments became the starting point for the development of classical guitars in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The revolutionary significance of Antonio de Torres’ guitar creation lies in its size: since the body of the current six-string guitar requires a larger volume, he not only enlarged the back and sides but also designed at least five different top shapes to fit his guitar. Compared to production colleagues, almost all of these shapes have a larger range. Although Torres’ guitars are larger, he tries to keep the weight of the guitar as low as possible. With very thin boards the cut at the thickest point is only 2.5 mm. To take into account the fact that the top can withstand the string tension despite its lightweight and thin thickness, he used a fanning performance instead of the previous horizontal bars. This strengthens the top and distributes the vibration to the surface.
The scale, i.e. the length of the freely vibrating string, is adjusted to 65 cm, and the neck is assembled from several separate parts to prevent warping. Torres widened the fingerboard to give more room for the fingers of his left hand. To tune the guitar, he used a more accessible manipulator instead of wooden pegs. The classical guitar is mainly used in classical music (especially chamber music) and folk music, Latin American music, and flamenco dance.

The guitar head

At the end of the neck is usually the head or head plate, to which one end of the strings is attached to the rotating tuning pegs. Using the tuning mechanism (pegs) used since the 19th century, the strings are stretched and tuned by regulating the tension. The necessary pressure of the strings on the nut is created by angling the head plate relative to the neck or by suitable auxiliary measures such as string hold-downs or “staggered” tuning machines (pegs that become lower towards the end of the head plate).

The most common designs of headstocks include the window headstock (which is standard on concert guitars) and the solid headstock, which is mostly used on steel-stringed instruments or historical instruments, as well as occasionally on flamenco guitars.

Many electric guitars have clamp saddles, where the strings are locked to the saddle to provide better tuning stability in conjunction with vibrato systems. There are also outright headless guitars (headless design, popularized in the early 1980s by Ned Steinberger). In both cases, the pegs are supplemented or replaced by tuning machines at the bridge. That is, the actual tuning function moves to the other string end on the body.

The guitar eck

A guitar has a neck over which strings are strung between the nut (on the head) and the bridge (on the body). The string gauge varies depending on the tuning and scale length. Since the guitar, a so-called crossbar instrument, consists of the body and a neck clearly separated from it, it is counted (in contrast to the simple chordophones such as the zithers) to the composite chordophones.

On today’s guitars, the neck is usually not made of a single piece, but of several pieces of wood glued together crosswise and an attached fingerboard over which the strings run. This construction offers advantages for the dimensional stability of the neck (in case of drying out) and, in addition, through the choice of different woods for the neck and fingerboard, the possibility of selectively influencing the sound and playability of the guitar.

On classical guitars with gut or synthetic strings, a simple solid wooden neck has sufficient stability to withstand the pull of the strings without distracting deformation. However, many instruments with steel strings, especially acoustic guitars, steel guitars and electric guitars, and especially electric basses, have an adjustable truss rod embedded in the neck. This lies approximately in the middle of the neck in a curved channel and causes a pre-tensioning of the neck against the string tension.

Typical guitars have frets on the fingerboard. These help to shorten the string with pinpoint accuracy when it is picked, to produce a specific tone when struck. Each fret generally corresponds to a (“tempered”) semitone step. There are usually markings on the neck at some fret positions (especially at the 5th, 7th, and 9th frets). Originally the frets were made of gut (gut strings tied around the neck) until the 18th century, later they were also made of ivory or silver. Modern guitar frets are usually made of nickel silver (as fret wire). Frets made of solid materials (unlike gut frets) are hammered immovably into the fingerboard. This design does not actually allow intermediate tones to be created. However, with appropriate playing techniques such as bending, bottleneck (or slide), this is also possible.

The neck varies depending on the type of guitar. Classical guitars tend to have a wide and flat-arched neck, steel-string guitars tend to have narrow and almost semi-circular necks and arched fingerboards.

At the beginning of the fingerboard is the saddle. The most common saddles are made of plastic and bone. They are either set into a groove milled into the fingerboard or glued to the end of the fingerboard. Plastic saddles are manufactured industrially and are therefore less expensive. In the case of bone saddles, a distinction is made between two different materials: boiled and almost white-bleached bone saddles and so-called fat saddles, which are made of non-boiled, unbleached bovine bone. The latter provides lubrication in the saddle notches due to the fat remaining in the bone, which makes it more difficult for the strings to jam. Due to their naturalness, fat saddles have a slightly yellowish color. Due to good workability and lubricating properties, various plastic-graphite blends are also used to make guitar saddles. The fingerboard ends on the top, usually ending with the soundhole. Some instruments have “floating” fingerboards that either do not rest on the soundboard or rest only partially on it. Usually, such instruments are made with a fingerboard wedge, which allows a better playing angle for the player.

The guitar body

The body varies greatly depending on the design of the guitar. On acoustic instruments (as opposed to electric), it usually consists of a light, waisted wooden soundbox, consisting of back, sides, and top, with a purfling inserted into the edge between the sides and top. The soundboard has a mostly circular soundhole, which was decorated with a rosette until the 18th century. As with the violins – in contrast to the viola da gamba and the double bass, for example – the guitar’s shoulders do not curve into the neck, but rather at approximately a right angle. However, there are numerous other designs, especially in the field of electric guitars, such as semi-resonant guitars and solid-body guitars (without a hollow body).

The bridge is located on the body. The other end of the strings is attached to this crossbar, which is glued to the soundboard in the case of acoustic guitars, or – usually in the case of electric guitars – to a tailpiece below it. For the bridge, too, there are numerous different designs with different adjustment possibilities for string position, an exact scale length of individual strings, or even with special functions (for example, tremolo lever – actually vibrato). In general, flamenco guitars have thinner tops, backs, and sides, are lighter overall, and often have a flatter construction. Backs and sides are usually made of very light wood. An intermediate position between the traditional flamenco guitar with backs and sides made of cypress (Flamenca Blanca or Guitarra Blanca) and the classical guitar is occupied by the Flamenca Negra or Guitarra Negra, whose backs and sides are made of rosewood, because of the woods used. Originally for reasons of cost, but today more for reasons of tradition and weight, some flamenco guitar makers do not use threaded tuners and instead use wooden pegs, as are common on violins and also found on pegboards of guitars from the Viennese Classical period.

The flamenco guitar sounds stronger in the upper registers, responding quickly and decaying quickly. This supports the hard and brilliant character of flamenco playing, which must be able to hold its own against the other percussive elements of this music and the dancers. The string action is traditionally rather low, which creates quite desirable percussive noise. However, since flamenco guitarists today often maintain a concert-style, a higher string action is sometimes required. Antonio de Torres (1817-1892) is considered the first builder of special flamenco guitars (around 1867). Especially flamenco guitars are often equipped with a golpeador, a thin, today mostly transparent, formerly often white or black glued-on plastic layer. It surrounds the soundhole from three sides to the bridge and is intended to protect the guitar top from damage; especially when using the percussive technique golpe. A golpeador can also be retrofitted to a guitar.

Why buy a classical guitar at Siccas Guitars?

At Siccas Guitars, all guitars are thoroughly checked and adjusted by our team of experts to ensure you get unlimited enjoyment from day one with your guitar. You can also have your guitar customized with us, our luthier is ready to assist you! Due to the worldwide demand for top-quality instruments, a large part of the instruments are sold all over the world via the website. Unlike many other dealers, Siccas Guitars focuses on high-quality and rare guitars, e.g. of Hermann Hauser I, Hermann Hauser II, Hermann Hauser III, Daniel Friederich, José Ramirez, Paulino Bernabé, Santos Hernandez, Domingo Esteso, Enrique Garcia, which are presented on www.siccasguitars.com and via social media channels. The customer can watch lovingly produced videos on Youtube and the website. Videos of masterful musicians such as Ana Vidovic, Tatyana Ryzhkova, Isabella Selder, Julia Trintschuk, Stephanie Jones, Cyprien N’tsaï, Alexandra Whittingham, Carlotta Dalia, Julia Lange, Judith Bunk, Roman Viazovskiy, Valeria Galimova, Natalia Lipnitskaya, Edson Lopes, and many more are presented here. Siccas Guitars specializes in master guitars, acoustic guitars, as well as historical guitars from around the world. In addition, we carry a large assortment of concert and student guitars from e.g. Hanika, Duke, Raimundo, Altamira, and many more, to optimally equip young talents and hobby musicians. Together with their customers, we want to further develop new ideas and share experiences.

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