Saturday, December 10, 2011

Classical Guitars – A Short History

Classical Guitars – A Short History

Author: Miles Roberts

Classical Guitars – A Short History
What makes a guitar “classical”? The traditional classical guitar is an acoustic (nonelectric) instrument with six strings but there are some models with eight or more. Both classical guitars and acoustic guitars have the same basic design and shape, have six strings, and are tuned in the same manner. The main difference is the width of the fret board, which is much wider on classical guitars. The treble strings (high E, B, and G) are usually made of nylon on classical guitars, while all strings on an acoustic guitar are made of metal. A classical guitarist uses his fingers to play rather than a pick.
The name classical guitar does not imply that only classical pieces are performed on it, although classical music is an important part of the guitar’s history. Rather, all kinds of music (folk, alternative, jazz, flamenco, etc.) are played on it today.
In the 19th century, a solo guitarist would usually perform as part of an ensemble in small concert venues. Eventually, professional soloists would perform recitals to big audiences in larger venues. Guitar makers began looking for ways to make the concert guitar louder. This search perhaps started with the Spanish guitar maker Antonio Torres Jurado in the late 19th century.
The classical guitar is sometimes called the "Spanish guitar" because Torres, working with Juilian Arcos, essentially redesigned the material, the shape, and the construction of the guitar. The changes Torres made modified the tone and increased the volume by increasing the size of the soundbox. Francisco Tarrega (1852 -1909) pioneered the new techniques employed by concert guitarists, including the positioning of the guitar on the player’s left knee, correct placement of hands, and methods for plucking the guitar (usually with the back of one’s fingernails).
Andres Segovia (1893-1987) took up the cause of the classical, or concert, guitar and established groundbreaking new methods to make the guitar’s sound carry in large areas such as concert halls. His techniques so beautifully demonstrated the guitar's astonishing flexibility and its outstanding spectrum of timbre and tone that many composers who previously had ignored the classical guitar began writing music specifically for it. Far from being possessive of his innovations, Segovia welcomed whatever improvements fellow luthiers could come up with to make the classical guitar a more consistent and more influential instrument.
The tone of classical guitars embodies romance and profound emotion. The nylon strings produce sounds that are warm and mature in expression. For example, flamenco, a style of classical guitar playing, is beautifully expressive with its lively rhythms and colorful melodies. Classical guitar arrangements are often technically complicated but extraordinarily expressive and soulful as a result.
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About the Author

Miles Roberts is a passionate classical guitar enthusiast who deals rare classical guitars across the world.

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