Flamenco Bridge vs. Classical Bridge (Full Version)

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crowduck -> Flamenco Bridge vs. Classical Bridge (Aug. 11 2004 23:37:31)

I have read in various places that a flamenco bridge is built lower so that the strings are closer to the soundboard to faciltate golpe(tapping the top with a fingernail). Sloane wrote that the flamenco bridge should be 1/4" and the classical 3/8" tall respectively. My questions are how does this affect the geometry between all the elements relating to action, nut, saddle, fretboard, neck angle, etc.? I'm very confused and haven't seen a clear explanation that I understand. Can any flamenco/classical builders tell me how to set up to build a flamenco?
Chris Nielsen
Soquel, CA.

Escribano -> RE: Flamenco Bridge vs. Classical Bridge (Aug. 12 2004 9:57:11)

Welcome to the forum Chris and a good question, we have a few luthiers and guitar fans here so I hope you will get some interesting answers.

aarongreen -> RE: Flamenco Bridge vs. Classical Bridge (Aug. 12 2004 14:37:37)

Flamenco guitars tend to have a lower bridge and string height to faciitate golpes but also to reduce the torque of the strings. It's nice when two desirable features see eye to eye, which is rare in guitars. Sloane's advice for classical bridges is a bit excessive as it is nice to have less torque in a classical as well. The classical action is higher though and therefore you tend to need the bridge to be higher as well. The rule of thumb is you don't want any more saddle sticking out of the bridge than what is in it.

Since the action is lower in flamencos that helps keep the string height lower. You can also taper the fingerboard more, or increase the neck angle to lower the string height. Or both. I like to see the strings start out at about 8 or 9 mms above the soundboard at the bridge, bass side and between 7 and 8 on the treble. Since the necks tend to pull up slightly, the action will most likely need to be lowered at some point. Very often I find that within a couple days of stringing up the action has pulled up about 1/2 mm at the 12th fret. This means that I must lower my saddle 1 mm to get back to where I started. After that initial pull up, the neck stays put. I make my flamenco bridges between 6 and 6.5 mm high depending on the above factors. The breakover angle at the saddle is very important and the lower you go, the more likely you will not have enough, so one needs to pay close attention to the design of their bridges. You can either drill the sting holes lower or you can reduce the distance between the back of the saddle and the front of the tie block. Or both. Angleing the tie block down towards the saddle helps as well. Every little bit counts.

Escribano -> RE: Flamenco Bridge vs. Classical Bridge (Aug. 12 2004 19:49:33)

Now that's service for you - thanks Aaron! I believe a Marlboro Red cigarette will fit between the strings and the soundboard at the bridge and the packet (hard not soft) is the same width as the playing area, so useful for practising rasgeos. A gitano told me that[:D]

crowduck -> RE: Flamenco Bridge vs. Classical Bridge (Aug. 12 2004 19:58:47)

Thanks for your reply!!! I was hoping that you would chime in. I've read some of your postings, and have read great things about your guitars. Since you build flamencos perhaps you can help me with another question. I have 10 sets of Mediterranian Cypress and am wondering what temperature to use when bending the sides? I will be using an inside solid form with the silicone heating blankets. Don't know if you use this method or if you use a pipe, but if you do use the blankets, please advise.
Chris Nielsen
Soquel, CA.

aarongreen -> RE: Flamenco Bridge vs. Classical Bridge (Aug. 13 2004 3:29:27)

Well I tend to prefer metric but whatever floats your boat. A friend of mine was once in Spain years ago and went to one of those little cigarette kiosks that they have over there and being American he asked for a pack of Marlboros. The vendor shook his head and corrected his pronunciation "Mah-Burros!" Just think all those years he was pronouncing it wrong.

I sent you an email respose to the one you sent me. Get a shut off timer/temp control for those blankets so you don't burn them out or burn your house down either. Bending cypress is not too bad, good luck!


Guest -> RE: Flamenco Bridge vs. Classical Bridge (Aug. 13 2004 7:59:26)

Hi everyone

This is not some kind of correction to what has been said until now, but a different aproach, and in the end the result is the same. But this might give some more understanding.
I play quite a lot, and when I worked in a shop I had the possibility to listen to a lot of arguments about stringheight above soundboard. I totally aree with Aarons observation abouth the neck setting in. The flamenco guitars I´ve build have all settled 1 - 1 1/2 mm lower at the bridge after a couple of days or so. Bear that in mind. (I had to refret and replane the fingerboard on one!!)

So what is it we are looking for? Low action above SB. Why? Most people say because of the golpes, and yes it´s true, it´s easyer with low action. BUT the main reason is the whole handposition. With a lower action, you get your thumb in contact with the soundboard most of the time. This gives you a flatter thumb angle playing rasgueados. You touch the SB and the string at the same time at a flatter angle, making the rasgueados easyer, and the following thumb reststroke (In a Soleá fx) a lot easyer. It also gives you the posibility to rest the thumb on the SB above the strings playing picados, and thus adding a whole lotta strength to your picados. (not bad!!!)

So what is important? Stringheight above SB at the bridge? NO!!! We do not play there. What is important is stringheight above SB close to the soundhole, where the thumb is resting. And here´s the problem. Some builders dome their SB a lot and makes the lower harmonic bar flat. This does that the strings are not parrallel to the SB. You might have 8mm height at the bridge and 11mm at the soundhole. That´s not acceptable, your thumb easily slips underneath the string, and players who have learnt to play a correctly setup guitar will reject this one. Never mind the sound!!!! Because their tecnique doesn´t funcion.
I try to make my guitars with the strings as parrallel as possible. No more than 1 mm difference. This by arching the lower harmonic bar in Romanillos style, and not giving the SB to much of a dome (2mm)
My favorite guitar is 7mm stringheight at the bridge and 8mm at the soundhole. It´s difficult to be that precise, but it´s wonderfull to play.
The breakangle at the bridge is not to big a problem if you make a 12 hole tieblock. It increases the breakangle a lot and 30 - 40 degr. should not be a problem.

So go ahead, build and show us. Good luck


esteban63 -> RE: Flamenco Bridge vs. Classical Bridge (Aug. 14 2004 17:13:06)

I think we had this conversation once before, but through Jonathan and Sean. I don't smoke so I have never taked my micrometer to a Mar-Burro either, but I like the........organic notion of measurement.

Two things:

It's important to let people know there is a trade off between lower action and sound.

I get slightly higher actions and still find the guitar to be very much in the flamenco zone. . I find that guitars with too low an action bother me. The action on my personal working gutiar is 9mm bass and 10 soundhole. It never traps my thumb. People who get the pulgar stuck between the bass string and the soundboard might need to do some work towards more mindful technique.

esteban63 -> RE: Flamenco Bridge vs. Classical Bridge (Aug. 14 2004 17:16:43)

Opps! I sent that before I finished,

I'm interested in making a 12 hole bridge, would you talk about that a bit. Have you noticed a decided difference in the string tension with the 12 hole bridge?


esteban63 -> RE: Flamenco Bridge vs. Classical Bridge (Aug. 14 2004 17:48:02)


About the guitars geometry: I might be helpful to draw the geometry on a long peice of paper.

Get a good ruler, straight yardstick, sharp hard pencil and begin by making a horizontal line 3' long.

Use that line as the string seen from the side of the guitar. Decide on a scale length. Experiment by measuring down from that line the distance you want your action to be from the fingerboard, soundboard at the bridge, and at the nut.

Draw in the profile of the bridge and saddle, the fingerboard, etc and see how it all lines up. Mark where the soundhole is, etc.

In other words work the geometry out on paper and then you will begin to see the relationships more clearly. Don't forget to compensate the saddle by moving it back about a 10th of a inch from the end of the scale length.

Take a guitar you already have, measure the action and then make a drawing of it.
Some of the great guitarmakers do this a kind of drawing to work it our ahead of time. So far, I have not seen any guitar plans that work it out as well as you ca draw it.

We could throw numbers at you all day, but until you see it for yourself, it may just confuse you.

I hope that helps and let us know how you are doing.

Guest -> RE: Flamenco Bridge vs. Classical Bridge (Sep. 5 2004 8:05:47)


Sorry for the late reply, but I´ve been away on hollydays. I think that the easyest way to answer your 12 hole tieblock question is to send you to www.schrammguitars.com There you´ll find a nice little article with fotos about the tie block.

I dont know if I´ve noticed difference in stringtension, but since I want a appr. 88mm stringheight over the SB near bridge, it helps me having a correct breakangle. It also looks neat IMHO

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