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mark indigo

 

Posts: 2596
Joined: Dec. 5 2007
From: UK

Bernal guitars? 

Anyone know anything much about Bernal guitars?

London based Ramon Ruiz talks them up on his website, saying he plays a Bernal costing under £1000 over Conde and Ramirez.... it's sort of too good to be true.... and he's importing and selling Bernals.... what does anyone else think?

link to Ramon's webpage; http://www.fiestaflamenca.com/bernal_guitars.htm scroll down for stuff about Bernal
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 29 2009 13:58:49
 
Bogdan1980

 

Posts: 370
Joined: May 23 2007
From: Frederick, MD

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to mark indigo

Well if he's selling them there is your clue to why he is talking them up.

They may be perfectly good guitars, it's just there is a little conflict of interest there, it seams...just a little bias.

Bogdan
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 29 2009 14:54:43
 
Ailsa

Posts: 2277
Joined: Apr. 17 2007
From: South East England

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to mark indigo

Yeah Bogdan has a point!

On a more practical note you are welcome to try mine on Sunday (as long as you take care of it pretty please!) It's a Bernal Prodigio Especial, cost 1,000 euros a year ago. It's a nice low action guitar - a good student model. Not comparable to a conde (which I have played).

By the way I didn't buy it from Ramon, but from the Bernal shop in Jerez.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 29 2009 16:01:30
 
Jim Opfer

Posts: 1876
Joined: Jul. 19 2003
From: Glasgow, Scotland.

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to mark indigo

Marc,
Ramon is a very decent, straight guy.
Guitars are cheaper to buy from the factory as Ailsa said but you don't know what you will get if it's mail order and it's best to test a few.
Ramon can offer this if you're in the UK.
Bernals are very good value. You generally get more guitar than you pay for.
Ramon does play his Bernal over his Conde but I think that's more to do with avoiding the risk of damage to the conde, doing a lot of travelling.
I had one for a few years and it was exceptional value. PM Ron M.

Good luck.

Cheers
Jim.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 29 2009 16:23:16
 
Anders Eliasson

Posts: 5779
Joined: Oct. 18 2006
 

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to mark indigo

Bernals are good small factory guitars and compare to Sanchis.

They have a sweet andalusian sound and they are normally a bit on the soft side and boom out when played hard.

Here in Andalicia they are used a lot as good student guitars and some pros play the upper models. (still a bit soft)

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2009 2:26:35
 
Escribano

Posts: 5869
Joined: Jul. 6 2003
From: England

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to Jim Opfer

quote:

Ramon does play his Bernal over his Conde but I think that's more to do with avoiding the risk of damage to the conde, doing a lot of travelling


I use my cheap Bernal amigo over the Anders' blanca when I am travelling or just messing about. Ramon has a Conde and uses that for performances and recordings I believe. Great value, no-nonsense guitars.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2009 3:30:31
 
larrygraham

 

Posts: 26
Joined: Mar. 29 2005
 

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to mark indigo

I owned a Al Alba model which I bought from Antonio Bernal in Seville.
Superb value, quality and sound.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 1 2009 5:59:42
 
Pimientito

Posts: 2481
Joined: Jul. 30 2007
From: Marbella

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to mark indigo

I have a long connection with the Bernal workshop. I bought my first Bernal way back in about 2000 and at that time the prices were in Spanish pesetas. I needed a decent guitar that was not expensive so friend of mine showed me a Bernal Guitar which I bought off him for about 100,000 pesetas (about 400 euros).
I was so amazed that the guitar sounded so good for so little money that I went to Algodonales and met Valeriano and his family. When I got to the workshop I found I had paid too much for the guitar which was selling at 80,000 pesetas. At the end of the day I was so convinced by his workshop that I did a deal to buy his entire output of guitars for a whole year. This was the begining of my guitar selling job in Spain. I dont remember how many instuments I have sold but even to this day there is noone in Spain who can match my price on a Bernal.

During that year I took 5 models and renamed them. Previously they were called the 80C or 80F which meant 80,000 peseta classical or 80,000 peseta flamenco and 100F, 160 F etc. This was not very good for me as everyone could see the prices from the models so I called them the amigo, the prodigio, the sueño, the gitano and the meastro. I even had my own special labels put in the guitars. If you see "fabricado por Jingle y Marcos" inside one then you know they came from me. The names of the Bernal guitar models are still to this day from my involvement with the workshop.

The Bernal workshop make handmade guitars and all of them exept for the very cheapest student models which come from valencia are made on the premesis.
The only part of the guitar that I am aware of that is not made on the premesis are the rosettes. Whereas most makers are individuals who devote their time to making 1 or 2 instruments at a time, the Bernal workshop is a family business where all the members are guitar makers. They have a kind of production sysem that can produce about a dozen guitars every 3 weeks with a total output of about 220 instruments per year. During August it is too hot to produce instruments but they make bridges and bindings and do repairs in summer.

Valeriano Bernal is an unusually methodical Andalucian and before he was a guitar maker he was an engineer in the Navy. He studied acoustics and applied the 2 disciplines to instrument making. The guitar necks on even the cheaper models have 2 carbon fibre rods running under the finger board. This allows sound to eminate from the fingerboard itself and guarantees the neck will not warp. The fingerboards are the most accurate in my opinion of a production guitar and every single one is identical but I'm not going to reveal that secret. The finish is hand laquer so each instrument is a slightly different colour. Valeriano has a huge personal stock of very well seasoned wood including a source of Brazilian rosewood that will guarantee the workshop still continues making palo santo models for many years to come.

The instruments are exceptional value for money. Because of the output, it means the prices are less than half what you would expect to pay for the same sounding instrument by an individual luthier. They have been overpriced by many dealers on the net. My advice is to either come and buy directly in Spain or contact me for more information.

The Bernal Family





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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 2 2009 5:46:22
 
Ron.M

Posts: 7051
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Scotland

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to Pimientito

quote:

so I called them the amigo, the prodigio, the sueño, the gitano and the meastro.


Hey that's really interesting Pimientito!!

I've got a Sueño blanca, which I bought from Jim O here.

As you say, a really remarkable lower price range guitar, very well made with a very genuine "dry" Flamenco sound.

HaHa...I'm still amused and amazed at your story!

Thanks for that.

cheers,

Ron
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 2 2009 6:34:12
 
Pimientito

Posts: 2481
Joined: Jul. 30 2007
From: Marbella

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to Ron.M

The sueño was our best seller. Is that a three part back you have or a two part?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 2 2009 6:43:33
 
Ailsa

Posts: 2277
Joined: Apr. 17 2007
From: South East England

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to Pimientito

quote:

I called them the amigo, the prodigio, the sueño, the gitano and the meastro.

Hey Pim I didn't know the names came from you!

As I said earlier in the thread I've got a prodigio especial. Not sure what's special about it except that it's mine

I spent ages in the shop just playing loads of different models. I was thinking about whether I could stretch to a sueno, and they had a negra which I played for a while. But it didn't sound as good under my fingers, whether because it's a negra I don't know - perhaps I don't suit negras? But the prodigio was definitely the best sounding.

Having said that I played the amigo for a while too and that was very playable for the money.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 2 2009 7:05:20
 
Ron.M

Posts: 7051
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Scotland

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to Pimientito

quote:

Is that a three part back you have or a two part?


Mine is the three part.

How? Is there a difference besides the looks?

I would think the three-part would maybe be a bit more difficult to build, but would save on materials since smaller, spare bits of wood could be used, but I don't know anything about the finer details of guitar building.

cheers,

Ron
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 2 2009 8:48:05
 
Pimientito

Posts: 2481
Joined: Jul. 30 2007
From: Marbella

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to Ron.M

Well the models have changed slightly over the years. The prodigio is a Cyprus body with usually a cedar top. The cedar top is much better than the pine on this model. It retails at 750 euros without a case. You can get a cyprus guitar in granada for this price but its all factory cut. The Bernal prodigio is in my opinion the best value guitar of its type on the market. It has a loud punchy sound, its easy to play with a a thin and accurate neck and it doesnt matter too much if it gets the odd knock.

The amiga was great for the money. It was the only hand built guitar of its kind inb that price range at the time and it was made sometimes from sycamore, sometimes from low grade cyprus depending on availability of timbre.

The sueño was a cyprus body with a three part back and it had a very punchy sound, much more than the prodigio. The grade of timbre for the tops was higher and the machines were better (although I edventually convinced Val to upgrade machines on all the models). This was our best selling model outside of Spain but now he has stopped making them. The triple back was a pain to produce and became a double back and then I believe became the prodigio especial.

The Gitano was made of Indian rosewood. At first it was 2 ply rosewood to make the body but this was upgraded to single pieces in about 2001. I dont know why he made the first ones as plywood. The grain was different inside the guitar from out but he doesnt do that any more. The Meastro was our most expensive model with a german pine top with cyprus body.
The higher concert models are still made by Val himself and have a "double Arco" body, which is to say two extra side pieces inside the guitar with a small gap inbetween them. The label has a wax seal on it.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 2 2009 11:46:38
 
Escribano

Posts: 5869
Joined: Jul. 6 2003
From: England

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to Pimientito

quote:

although I edventually convinced Val to upgrade machines on all the models


Yep, you reminded me; I had to, after a button broke off in my hand - upgraded to ebony button hausers from Schaller.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 2 2009 11:59:53
 
Pimientito

Posts: 2481
Joined: Jul. 30 2007
From: Marbella

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to Escribano

There were lots of little wrinkles to iron out. At that time in my life every spare moment was about guitars. I had at one time over 90 Bernal guitars at home. They were in the closets, under the bed, on the dining table, lined up in the living room. I was working on improving the models, getting the advertising better.
I noticed that the machines could be upgraded for only a few euros extra and it made a big difference to the overall quality of the instruments.
Every guitar was personally tested by me a a duds were sent back. As a second measure I sent every instrument to another guitar maker to polish the fretboards, set the action and give each instrument the once over. This way i could give a money back guarantee that each instrument was perfect. It cost a few euros extra but it saved money on return postage and repaires etc. I never had a single returned guitar!
Then there were the prado cases that only had one rivet attaching the shoulder strap. We got them to change to 2 rivets and improve the locks.
Later on the euro came in, prices went up, tansport costs rose dramatically and the exchange rate meant that it was hard to turn a profit so I stopped that particular activity. However, i look back at thos times with great fondeness. My days were spent sitting on the beach testing new guitars and i was getting paid for it. They were the happiest times of my life.......

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 2 2009 13:13:40
 
Ron.M

Posts: 7051
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Scotland

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to Pimientito

quote:

This way i could give a money back guarantee that each instrument was perfect. It cost a few euros extra but it saved money on return postage and repaires etc. I never had a single returned guitar!


Very much respect Pimientito!

That's the way to do business IMO.

Make your profit, but give the people the gen stuff!

If only more people had adhered to that principal, then the World wouldn't be in the financial mess it is in now, with all the social consequences.


cheers,

Ron
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 2 2009 13:29:04
 
Pimientito

Posts: 2481
Joined: Jul. 30 2007
From: Marbella

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to Ron.M

My motives were purely selfish
I didnt want the trouble of unhappy customers. Thats why I make sure every guitar I ever sell has no reason to be returned to me. If I am unhappy with a guitar I assume my customer will be as well. My annoying characteristics are that I'm a bit of a nerd and quite meticulous (even if my methods seem haphazzard) but when it comes to buying and selling instruments, I think these are good attributes.
I still buy and sell Bernals now and again on a commission basis but my practice is the same. I go directly to the family, I choose the best instruments, I then test them, send them for a set up and then sell them on. I buy the guitar as if i were buying it for myself and I only ever have happy clients.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 2 2009 13:44:35
 
mark indigo

 

Posts: 2596
Joined: Dec. 5 2007
From: UK

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to Pimientito

quote:

I have a long connection with the Bernal workshop


i knew it was a good idea to ask this on here, and that someone would know some about Bernal.... glad i asked, thanks pimiento, that's all really interesting info

quote:

Ramon is a very decent, straight guy


i didn't doubt that Ramon is honest.... i just wanted more info/
opinions on the guitars

quote:

a good student model


i've been playing what i think is a reasonably good "student" guitar for about 12 years now, and really want an upgrade. i've picked up a fair bit of playing experience, learnt some solo stuff, done a fair bit of dance accompaniment, and done shedloads of work on my technique, and i want a guitar that i can really move on with, something better sounding, maybe easier to play etc., something really quality that will last me the next decade or so at least.... unfortunately i don't have much of a budget at the moment, so i guess i need to work on that first!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 2 2009 15:07:14
 
kozz

Posts: 1766
Joined: Feb. 26 2009
From: Eindhoven NL

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to mark indigo

quote:

My days were spent sitting on the beach testing new guitars and i was getting paid for it.


Sounds great those days!

Good post, havent heard of Bernal before, defnintely worth checking out I believe isn't it?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 3 2009 0:25:22
 
avimuno

 

Posts: 598
Joined: Feb. 9 2007
From: Paris, France

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to Anders Eliasson

quote:

ORIGINAL: Anders Eliasson
Here in Andalicia they are used a lot as good student guitars and some pros play the upper models. (still a bit soft)


Hi Anders,

What do you mean by soft? Is it the general way the guitar reacts and handle itself?
I find that the more my technique improves, the more I like playing guitars that are 'harder', with a higher tension, where your right hand really has to work (but this both improves technique and produces a great sound).
In fact, I am coming to think that what matters the most to me when buying a new guitar is tension and how the strings feel on my right hand.
I know nothing about making a concert flamenco guitar but I would imagine that the tension and the way the guitar feels would be a very important factor wouldn't it?
In my experience this is where production guitars fail... they just don't 'feel' right.

Hope that made sense, I'm really not familiar with luthier terminology
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 6 2009 20:23:34
 
Anders Eliasson

Posts: 5779
Joined: Oct. 18 2006
 

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to mark indigo

When I use the word soft on a guitar, I talk about pulsation. The stiffness and elasticity of the instrument. Its not something good or bad. Its personal, but most of us want a slightly higher pulsation with the years.
You cannot compensate pulsation with different string tensions. A low pulsation guitar is a low pulsation guitar and with higher tension strings it often feels even more elastic. (this is logical to me)
I personally dont like hard guitars or high pulsation guitars and VERY few players do. I like a guitar where you can relax and play close to the bridge. But it needs to have some tension and not be to elastic.

I´ve played, I dont know, 15 - 20 Bernals from the cheapest to the Duende model (5000,-€) None of them were bad guitars all had good setups. They were all a bit on the soft or elastic side but not to soft. Some of them a bit quiet, but in general very flamenco sounding. The consistancy of the output is more or less ok (I said, no bad one) Funny enough, the two I liked the most were the cheapest (simons) and the most expensive.

I compare Bernals to the similar priced Sanchis which are made more or less the same way. I cannot say which I prefer. I think that tonal wise I prefer the Bernals and pulsation wise, I prefer the Sanchis. As with most other players, over the years I put more and more emphasis in pulsation and feel than I do in sound. A good guitar is a guitar that makes ME sound well when I play it and that keeps inspiring and provoking me to work a little harder.

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See the guitars I have for sale here:
http://news-from-the-workshop.blogspot.com.es/p/guitars-for-sale.html

Fine flamenco and classical guitars: www.eliassonguitars.com
Blog: http://news-from-the-workshop.blogspot.com/
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 7 2009 2:16:05
 
Escribano

Posts: 5869
Joined: Jul. 6 2003
From: England

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to Anders Eliasson

quote:

Funny enough, the two I liked the most were the cheapest (simons) and the most expensive.


Obviously have to agree. I bought mine from Stephen Hill when he was in the UK for about £400 - I think he got it from Jingle. I tried other more expensive guitars but this one, with a softer rosewood fingerboard and Stephen's set-up (bone nut and saddle), then the new tuners I put on, suited me best and sounded more flamenco - it is not a loud nor "hard" guitar - and was more welcoming for me as a beginner.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 7 2009 2:35:19
 
Jim Opfer

Posts: 1876
Joined: Jul. 19 2003
From: Glasgow, Scotland.

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to Pimientito

Pimientito,

Great story.
I bought my guitar (Now Ron's) from a guy called Charlie Stokes who was an agent in the North Eash of England for Gingle. I was asked if I wanted to be the agent covering Scotland but that's not my scene.
My Sueno was the first guitar sold by Charlie and I was told it was the first one to be sold in the UK.
I had a few guitars to choose from including a less expensive model, I can't remember the name but 'Amigo' comes to mind. That guitar had a two piece back and a rosewood fingerboard. It had a really nice lightweight feel but not the power of the Sueno.
I'm impressed by your story and can only say well done.
I always speak highly of these guitars when asked.
A bit rough at the edges but great traditional sound as Ron said, 'dry'.
I knew there was something different about the neck design and always believed that it might be hollowed out to make an accoustic chamber below the fingerboard. Any Comment?

Keep well.
Cheers
Jim.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 7 2009 5:36:35
 
Jim Opfer

Posts: 1876
Joined: Jul. 19 2003
From: Glasgow, Scotland.

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to Jim Opfer

PS. Yes! the machine heads were dreadful. I think I replaced the originals straight away.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 7 2009 5:38:52
 
dformell

 

Posts: 124
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[Deleted] 

Post has been moved to the Recycle Bin at Apr. 21 2014 21:53:25
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 21 2014 21:53:04
 
slowhand9

 

Posts: 18
Joined: May 1 2014
 

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to mark indigo

Hey all,

I'm planning to buy a Bernal guitar. and would like to have inputs from those who have played/have knowledge about Bernal guitars, please.

I am considering the Prodigio Special or the Al Alba Models. Also, any idea about the Valeriano Systems?
http://www.valerianobernalmadrid.com/en/sistema-valeriano/sistema-valeriano

thanks,
Debargho
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 1 2014 6:19:50
 
mark indigo

 

Posts: 2596
Joined: Dec. 5 2007
From: UK

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to slowhand9

quote:

I'm planning to buy a Bernal guitar. and would like to have inputs from those who have played/have knowledge about Bernal guitars, please.

I bought a Prodigio as a second/travel guitar. Not a great guitar, but definitely a great guitar for the price. Probably the best guitar at the price (£800) I have played.

But they vary.

I bought mine from a pro guitarist and teacher who goes to the workshop and personally selects them for sale to his students etc., so he chooses the ones he thinks are best.

When I went to visit he had two Prodigios and one Maestro model for sale. I picked the Prodigio that I thought was the best of the two (and there was quite a difference).

The Maestro was much better, and I would have preferred to have bought that one, but I had a budget to stick to and went with the cheaper Prodigio.

So the advice is play each guitar and compare for playability and sound etc. and pick the best one you can afford. Take someone with you who can give their opinion if you can.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 1 2014 10:49:28
 
Don Dionisio

 

Posts: 360
Joined: Feb. 16 2011
From: Durham, NC

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to mark indigo

I have a Maestro model that is a very good guitar. It can easily compare to guitars
that are much higher in price. It has a very flamenco sound: quick, percussive, and
powerful. And, it is easy to play.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 1 2014 13:54:32
 
orsonw

Posts: 1402
Joined: Jul. 4 2009
From: London

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to Don Dionisio

quote:

I have a Maestro model that is a very good guitar. It can easily compare to guitars
that are much higher in price. It has a very flamenco sound: quick, percussive, and
powerful. And, it is easy to play.


Is that the one I sold you a few years ago?

I've played about 30 Bernals, they are fairly consistent. I have owned a couple, they suit me very well; they have the right response, set up and sound for flamenco. The best I owned was a 'sueno' for £900 new.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 1 2014 14:59:56
 
slowhand9

 

Posts: 18
Joined: May 1 2014
 

RE: Bernal guitars? (in reply to mark indigo

well, I've noticed some folks say that the Bernal guitars are more suited as a 'student guitar'- more comparable to the Sanchis.However, most others seem to be quite fond of the Brand.

For the money, (under or around 1000 pounds) which model gives the best Flamenco tone/response?
Would really love people who have experience with a fair number of Bernal guitars to respond, please :)
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 1 2014 15:09:09
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