Flamenco build details from the book

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josswinn
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Flamenco build details from the book

Post by josswinn » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:24 am

Hello, this is my first post to this forum. I've just finished my first guitar, having learned with Roy Courtnall. It was a lattice of his design.

For my second guitar, I want to build a Flamenco Blanca, applying what I can from my new Gore/Gilet books, as well as what I learned from Roy.

I've found a number of references to good/classic Flamenco design in 'the books' (1-91; 3-38-40), which can be summarised as follows:
  • Cypress back and sides less than 2mm thick
    10-15mm shallower body depth
    Bridge weighing less than 15g
    Fan braced
    Peg head
    Light-weight (e.g. cedrela) neck
    Tentellones for top lining
Now, I have a few questions at this stage, before I go and buy all the materials:

1. Is a bolt on neck still preferable for a Flamenco build? I know Gore/Gilet provide good reasons why it should be used, but in the case of a Flamenco, where some of what is taken for granted with a classical is turned on its head, would a traditional heel and wedge be more conducive to the classic sound, especially if I'm trying to save weight everywhere else? Is it the case of a compromise: weight or neck adjustment?

2. Is there a recommended wood for the soundboard? Historically, spruce has been most popular. Would you recommend I buy Engelmann or Alpine/European spruce? Does it matter, if I take into account 4.5.2 and 4.5.3 in the design book?

3. Given the choice, a rosewood fretboard would save some weight and seems to be recommended over ebony. I used Rocklite on my first guitar, which was easy to work with.

4. Are there any suggestions for innovation? I see Hanika's top of the line Flamenco is lattice braced. The guitar is for my personal use and I don't mind design features that are considered unusual as long as there is good attack and the sound remains 'dry' and cutting.

5. Are there features of the plans in the build book that I should refer to for my Flamenco? I was planning on being guided by Roy's Santos Hernandez and Barbero plans.

Thanks for any advice. I'm looking forward to getting to know the books.
Joss Winn

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Trevor Gore
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Re: Flamenco build details from the book

Post by Trevor Gore » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:35 am

In the book I bang on a bit about the "real" flamenco sound. To me, that's a pretty percussive sort of sound epitomised by a 1986 Mariano Conde Snr. guitar that passed through my shop a good many years ago and is nothing like the typical Conde Hermanos A26 that is fairly prevalent these days and which, to me, is nothing like a "real" flamenco guitar. Having seen just the one Mariano Conde Snr, I don't know whether that one was typical of his output or not, but it was a really nice instrument.

What is clear is that to get that type of Mariano sound, overall mass (essentially, lack of it) is everything, so whilst not impossible to do a bolted neck, you need to get very close to the mass of a non-bolted neck.

The different species of top woods overlap hugely in their properties. What you want for the Mariano type sound is a low damping, low density piece of wood which will help you get the lowest mass top. Whilst this could be from any of the spruce species, it helps if you go looking in the most likely places, which in my experience in Engelmann, which on the samples I've tested tends towards lower density, lower damping.

I've heard players say they can hear the difference between mechanical planetary peg tuners and wooden peg tuners, due to the extra mass in the headstock. I could, too (not so sure if I still can!) So going for low mass, go for rosewood over ebony. Rosewood being more stable will jack the neck relief around a lot less than ebony. I've not used Rocklite, so won't comment.

My view on bracing is that almost anything can be made to work. However, if you're intent on a particular type of sound, it makes sense to start looking in the place where that sound originated.

Have fun!

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josswinn
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Re: Flamenco build details from the book

Post by josswinn » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:52 pm

Thanks Trevor. That’s all very helpful. I’m looking forward to getting started.
Joss Winn

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Re: Flamenco build details from the book

Post by mqbernardo » Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:30 pm

for a flamenca i´d go with dentellones/peones and put them more widely spaced than on a classical, say, about 5mm apart. the thing, for me (but I'm no expert!) with flamenco is bridge height and action. you really want them low. the rest of the design stems from there (IMHO).
so, bridge height around 6 mm, bridge wings about 3mm - that will help with golpe and save a lot of weight. it will also lower the bridge torque (is that the term?), so it´ll facilitate the lighter build you´re after.
on my blanca i used a lower bout dome of around 2mm, extended to the middle of the sound hole. Neck angle was higher than on the classicals I've built - with the fingerboard on, a straightedge placed upon it would be 2mm above the top at saddle location, iirc.
i´d also go with a rosewood fingerboard, but i guess most blancas have ebony fingerboards.

good luck!

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Re: Flamenco build details from the book

Post by josswinn » Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:00 am

Thanks very much. I hadn't given the dome or neck angle much thought so far, so thanks for that. Yes, rosewood fretboard seems the way to go.
Joss Winn

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Re: Flamenco build details from the book

Post by simonm » Fri Feb 23, 2018 1:47 am

As you have close contact with Roy, you can quiz him about the Santos plan in his book. If I recall correctly, I don't have the book (or "the books") to hand, the text mentions both classical and flamenco builds. However, pre-WWII the guitars hadn't really diverged into two genres - there were just the dimension of cheap vs expensive and good vs bad. A lot of flamenco players could only afford "cheap" so they got cypress.

Regarding cypress, if you are feeling adventurous it might be worth considering doing a 3 piece back using sides instead of a book matched back. Sometimes the wood supplied for sides is easier to work being more on the quarter than the wider pieces for the backs. Very likely the reason why the three piece back is relatively common on cypress guitars. You could also get a book matched back set plus and extra side and and use the best bits.

Also have a look here: http://www.luth.org/plans/instrument_pl ... l#flamenco Sabicas (the Barbero plan) is sometimes quoted as having said that there were only two types of guitars: good guitars and bad guitars.

Simon

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Re: Flamenco build details from the book

Post by josswinn » Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:55 am

Thanks, Simonm. I hadn't thought about a three piece back but like the idea of it.

Apparently, it's not easy finding top quality cypress these days. I spoke with, and ordered from, a major supplier of tonewood in the UK and he lamented that the really good stuff seems like a thing of the past. None of the suppliers in the UK offer AAA cypress, only what they regard as AA, which is what I went with. It will arrive tomorrow so I'll see what it's like soon. I have the Barbero plan from GAL on the way to me...

Roy has offered me good advice as usual, mainly thinking ahead in terms of designing for lower action.

The closer I can come to this sound, the happier I will be!
Joss Winn

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Re: Flamenco build details from the book

Post by josswinn » Sun Sep 30, 2018 11:41 pm

Just to say that I've finished making my flamenco guitar and there's a write-up on my blog. Thanks for the advice here and in the book. It was a great help and I'm pleased with the way it sounds.

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Joss
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kiwigeo
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Re: Flamenco build details from the book

Post by kiwigeo » Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:17 am

Nice work Joss...
Martin

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lamanoditrento
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Re: Flamenco build details from the book

Post by lamanoditrento » Tue Oct 02, 2018 8:01 am

Looks great Joss. What did you weight come in at? Also do you have any FRC we can look at?
Trent

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Re: Flamenco build details from the book

Post by josswinn » Tue Oct 02, 2018 8:28 am

lamanoditrento wrote:
Tue Oct 02, 2018 8:01 am
Looks great Joss. What did you weight come in at? Also do you have any FRC we can look at?
Thank you. It weighs 1143g. Getting down to around 1100g was one of my main design goals, after reading the Gore/Gilet books.

There's some tap tone data here: http://josswinn.org/2018/09/29/my-flamenco-guitar/ If I'm reading it right, it came in within the ranges that the book suggests.
Joss Winn

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Re: Flamenco build details from the book

Post by kiwigeo » Tue Oct 02, 2018 8:38 am

Your blog mentions no fingerboard tapering? You're talking about tapering of the sides of the blank or thickness...hard to tell from the photos.
Martin

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Re: Flamenco build details from the book

Post by josswinn » Tue Oct 02, 2018 4:30 pm

kiwigeo wrote:
Tue Oct 02, 2018 8:38 am
Your blog mentions no fingerboard tapering? You're talking about tapering of the sides of the blank or thickness...hard to tell from the photos.
Yes, the sides (the width) are tapered all the way from the nut to the sound hole, but the thickness (depth) is constant. I was trying to avoid tapering the thickness, simply because I prefer the look of it flat.
Joss Winn

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Re: Flamenco build details from the book

Post by kiwigeo » Tue Oct 02, 2018 5:42 pm

josswinn wrote:
Tue Oct 02, 2018 4:30 pm
kiwigeo wrote:
Tue Oct 02, 2018 8:38 am
Your blog mentions no fingerboard tapering? You're talking about tapering of the sides of the blank or thickness...hard to tell from the photos.
Yes, the sides (the width) are tapered all the way from the nut to the sound hole, but the thickness (depth) is constant. I was trying to avoid tapering the thickness, simply because I prefer the look of it flat.
Ok that's what I thought.
Martin

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