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Flamenco guitar too stiff   You are logged in as Guest
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Echi

 

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Flamenco guitar too stiff 

I have a couple of problems with 2 flamenco guitars I own and I'd like to have some advice from you:
I own a Conde and a Bellido (among other guitars) which make me quite disappointed.

The Conde has a very nice tone and looks fantastic, but in my opinion the top is overbuilt: I mean that the "pulsation" is definitively high (the right hand has to push quite hard to take the best from it or for a warm rasgueado) it's not powerful, the notes have a long sustain, well defined, with a good scope, but to me it's kind half classical and half flamenco.
This guitar start sounding well (really well) just after an hour or more of warming up. In few words, I suspect the top was left way too thick.
I'm an amateur luthier (I made about 30 guitars, I followed some training as luthier, but I'm not building professionally) and I'd like to do something to improve that guitar (instead of selling it) but I wouldn't like to strip the varnish. Any suggestion?

The Bellido sounds very nicely (maybe there is not too much scope in the note, which I found quite common in the guitars from Granada I owned, but I like the airy open sound is capable of) nevertheless I noticed a problem with the strings action.
3.3 mm at the 12 fret and 7.4 at the bridge with no room to lower the bone more than 0.6 mm.
This setting seems to me wrong as the projection of the neck is more like a classical than a flamenco. I don't think the neck bent over as it seems quite bulky made, perfectly straight and the ebony fretboard is even at 6.7 mm.
Maybe someone before me remade the fretboard, I don't know.
A guitar of the same maker and year found in internet shows different settings 7.4 at the bridge but 2,6 at the 12 fret) , therefore I presume that the projection of the neck is not a consequence of the solera used by Bellido...
Any idea?
What would you do?

Thanks
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 5 2015 10:45:15
 
krichards

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From: York, England

RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to Echi

quote:

In few words, I suspect the top was left way too thick


This is a common feature of many Condes. I would sell it and not waste time on it. It will sell easily because its a Conde.

But the Bellido is a different matter, well worth spending time on it. Its difficult to tell without seeing it, but the fingerboard has a good thickness so you can remove the frets, plane the fingerboard to give the action you prefer and then refret.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 5 2015 11:51:14
 
El Kiko

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From: The South Ireland

RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to Echi

i presume its a blanca .. it seems you wont be doing anything to the conde except perhaps experimenting with strings that make help bring out certain frequencies ...

krichards may be right about redoing the fretboard , seems like a lot of work though ..and you have to be very sure yourself as you are the only one that can actually see , and hear , it ....

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 5 2015 17:28:02
 
Sr. Martins

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RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to Echi

I would think that shaving the bridge would be more helpful than taking wood away from the fretboard..
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 5 2015 18:39:17
 
krichards

Posts: 597
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From: York, England

RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to Sr. Martins

quote:

I would think that shaving the bridge would be more helpful than taking wood away from the fretboard..


Reducing the bridge would be the first option of course. But the action there is already low at 7.4mm so there's probably not much that can be done.
On the other hand the fretboard is plenty thick enough and can be reworked to give whatever action is desired both at the 12th fret and at the bridge saddle

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 5 2015 18:43:38
 
Sr. Martins

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RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to krichards

quote:

On the other hand the fretboard is plenty thick enough and can be reworked to give whatever action is desired both at the 12th fret and at the bridge saddle


Iam not visualizing how that would happen without turning the fretboard into an ugly wedge towards the headstock.

Could you show some pics of a similar procedure?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 5 2015 18:57:41
 
krichards

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From: York, England

RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to Sr. Martins

No photos I'm afraid.
The before and after would hardly be different to the untrained eye, so certainly not ugly.

To reduce the action to 3.0mm at the 12th fret would need a saddle reduction of 0.6mm. This would involve reducing the bridge height, deepening the saddle slot, reducing the saddle, and then almost certainly conversion to 12 holes to keep sufficient break angle.
I've described the fretboard solution earlier, above.

Without seeing the guitar its difficult to know which procedure is best, but both are bread and butter jobs for a luthier. Straightforward but time consuming, so expensive, so only worth it on a good guitar. I'm assuming the Bellido is a signed instrument by Manuel Bellido or perhaps his brother Jose Lopez Bellido?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 5 2015 19:39:06
 
Sr. Martins

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RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to Echi

How much would you have to plane towards the nut (at the nut) to go from 3.3 to around 2.5 (at 12th)?

Iam thinking that you would have to lower the nut considerably, which would make the fretboard look thinner at the nut and thicker at the soundhole... that's what I consider a strange look.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 5 2015 19:50:09
 
krichards

 

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 5 2015 20:04:11
 
krichards

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RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to Sr. Martins

quote:

How much would you have to plane towards the nut (at the nut) to go from 3.3 to around 2.5 (at 12th)?


1.6mm, which is a lot, I agree. But I'd be aiming for 3.0mm action on the bass side and 2.5m on the treble side. We're working on the basis that, at present, the action is the same on both the bass and treble sides (3.3mm). But I think that's unlikely, which is why I'm qualifying my answers with the proviso that its difficult to give a definitive reply without seeing the guitar.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 5 2015 20:26:30
 
Sr. Martins

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RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to krichards

I see...

Maybe the best (less noticeable) solution in a situation like this would be to shave the bridge a bit and plane the fretboard another bit
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 5 2015 20:58:24
 
Anders Eliasson

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RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to Echi

Always work the material sizes as staring points. And not just general guesswork

*The fingerboard is even at 6.5mm, which is thick.
*The bridge is 7.4 minus 0.6mm = 6.8mm. very thick for a flamenco bridge. This should be confirmed by the owner. (meassure bridge thickness at the bone)

Lots of M. Bellido guitars have very strong neck angles and can be difficult to work on for that reason, but this one seems to have lots of wood to work with. So solutions could be whatever has been mentioned already. I would personally, (if the bridge is 6.8mm thick) shave the bridge around 0.8 - 1mm and lower the bone to get a setup at 12th fret just under 3mm. I wouldnt go lower anyways, because IMHO opinion, those needing a lower setup dont have a setup problem but a mental or psycological problem.

And last, to the original post. Dont presume that because 2 guitars have been built in the same solera that the final neck angle and setup when strung up will be the same. Unfortunately real life is not that easy. They always have their little diferences and its one of the most difficult aspects of building flamenco guitars and the reason you see so many different setup issues.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 6 2015 7:58:57
 
Echi

 

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RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to Echi

Thank's for the replies.
Bellido.

It seems like the projection of the neck (quite beefy made) is 4 mm forward...My idea is that something went wrong in the assembly stage as this is too much for a flamenco guitar imho.
I agree that there is room enough to shave the fingerboard at the nut side, but then I'd have a weird visual effect (a fingerboard thick 5 mm at the nut and 6,7 at the 12 fret).
The distance between top and E string at the bridge is 7.4 mm, but after shaving completely the bone I'll arrive at 3.1 mm at the 12 fret.
My understanding is that the best option would be to do many things together, as shaving just 1 mm the fretboard towards the nut area, replacing the frets with taller ones, lowering the bridge 1 mm..
Anders, the bridge doesn't seem overbuilt to me.
BTW I noticed something interesting: the bridge has been glued not exactly perpendicular to the strings but slightly slanted so that the diapason gives 658mm on the Bass side and 657 on the Treeble; this is something I noticed also in some Torres guitars.



Re: the Conde I got that according to you the best option is to sell it, am I right?
None of you ever tried ever anything to improve guitar with a stiff top?

Thanks

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 6 2015 9:29:39
 
krichards

Posts: 597
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From: York, England

RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to Anders Eliasson

quote:

to get a setup at 12th fret just under 3mm. I wouldnt go lower anyways, because IMHO opinion, those needing a lower setup dont have a setup problem but a mental or psycological problem.


How true!
You hit the nail on the head there Anders

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 6 2015 10:19:21
 
RobJe

 

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From: UK

RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to Echi

It probably doesn't matter too much but it would be good to identify which luthier (out of the 4 Bellidos) made this guitar. From your pictures I am guessing Jose Lopez Bellido, quite different construction from Manuel.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 6 2015 10:23:54
 
Echi

 

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RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to Echi

Hi,
The guitar I'm speaking about is a Josè Lopez Bellido, you are right.
I have a couple of them, an old '74 (now in bad form unfortunately) and a 2000.
I had a Manuel Bellido at some stage but eventually I sold it, with my fortune as the market seems to overvalue the guitars of Manuel and undervalue those of Jose' Lopez (or maybe I have tastes not in line with those of the dealers but here in Europe the average price for a used guitar of Jose' is 3000 and 3700 for those of Manuel)

IMHO around 2.8 mm is the right action on guitars with regular frets, middle / high pulsacion, and well worked fingerboard. On the contrary, on guitars with a stiff top and 660 diapason (like the Conde I referred above) if the action is set above 2.8 mm you feel there is something odd and the guitar lacks in articulation... Anyway, I don't take it as a rule as I agree that each guitar has its proper right settings.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 6 2015 11:18:27
 
Sr. Martins

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RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to Anders Eliasson

quote:

I wouldnt go lower anyways, because IMHO opinion, those needing a lower setup dont have a setup problem but a mental or psycological problem.


You seem to fail to understand that people have different tastes and opinions. Regarding it as a "mental or psycological problem" is just rude.



@Echi

How about selling both and getting one that you really like?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 6 2015 13:08:17
 
Echi

 

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RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to Echi

good idea.
You see, I'd like the Bellido if it wasn't for the problem with the action and somehow I'd like the Conde if it wasn't that is definitely too stiff.
It's not that easy to sell on these days (btw I'd feel guilty to sell a guitar with action problems) and it's not that easy to find something very good in the 2nd hand market for reasonable money.
That's why I asked for your advice to fix the guitars I already have.
After your answers and some thinking I got that's best to lower the bridge of the Bellido by 1 mm eventually. Maybe at some stage I'll refret it and shave just a bit the fretboard. Not bad after all.

I didn't get suggestions on the Conde yet but I knew already it was a difficult topic..
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 6 2015 13:56:41
 
estebanana

 

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RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to krichards

quote:

quote:

to get a setup at 12th fret just under 3mm. I wouldnt go lower anyways, because IMHO opinion, those needing a lower setup dont have a setup problem but a mental or psycological problem.


How true!
You hit the nail on the head there Anders


I laughed at this. Makes me crazy when asked to make under 3mm on the bass side at the 12th fret and perfect clean classical playing. !!!!!

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 6 2015 14:08:54
 
estebanana

 

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RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to Sr. Martins

quote:


You seem to fail to understand that people have different tastes and opinions. Regarding it as a "mental or psycological problem" is just rude.



Have you gone off your meds again?

Echi, Sell the Conde' with the stiff top, some people like them that way. Conde's generally are easier to sell than other flamenco guitars.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 6 2015 14:11:25
 
Sr. Martins

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RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to estebanana

quote:

I laughed at this. Makes me crazy when asked to make under 3mm on the bass side at the 12th fret and perfect clean classical playing. !!!!!


Maybe some people ask for under 3mm precisely because they don't want clean sound or just want to tame the volume.

Assuming that everyone has the same purpose when buying an instrument is not a wise decision in this day and age.


Go tell Vicente that he has a mental problem, convince him that he should be happy with 3mm or more. He sets up his guitars to 2mm on both sides.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 6 2015 14:16:13
 
estebanana

 

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RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to Sr. Martins

quote:

Go tell Vicente that he has a mental problem, convince him that he should be happy with 3mm or more. He sets up his guitars to 2mm on both sides


If Mr. Amigo began jumping off of high buildings with paper wings tied to his back and a megaphone while shouting "I am the Eggman! I am the Queen of Scotland! I am Yoda!"

You can bet 90% of the guitar players without brains will do the same thing.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 6 2015 15:01:21
 
Sr. Martins

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RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to estebanana

Just make 5mm the golden number and be done with it. Tell everyone that they're stupid and mental if they want to go lower and save yourself some time while building and setting up guitars.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 6 2015 15:10:45
 
Anders Eliasson

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RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to Echi

Whoaaa, you really took that as something personal. Well, maybe there´s a reason. stop ... just stop. only joking.

besides, I never said 3mm. I said just under 3mm... A very, and I repeat, very important difference in the flamenco guitar world. You see: 3mm is way way to high and dont use numbers below 3mm because you´ll have people going all mental if you do so. So, just under 3mm is perfect . Then everyone should be happy then and we should able to continue with the subject.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 6 2015 16:04:04
 
Anders Eliasson

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RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to Echi

quote:

Anders, the bridge doesn't seem overbuilt to me.


So how thick is it? Its, together with the fingerboard thickness THE most important factor.
So meassure with a caliper and thats it.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 6 2015 16:09:24
 
Dudnote

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RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to Anders Eliasson

For what it's worth, the action on my Morales is about 3.5mm at the 12th and I've long felt this has been a barrier (just one among many ) to better playing. If it could be 2.5mm could I live with a little fret buzz?? Don't know. Depends on what is "a little".
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 6 2015 16:19:13
 
keith

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RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to Echi

Guitar Salon International use to, and may still, describe Condes as being built for a heavy hand. I always wondered what they meant/mean by that phrase and I guess this discussion sort of answers that question.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 6 2015 16:25:48
 
johnguitar

 

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RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to Echi

quote:

ORIGINAL
BTW I noticed something interesting: the bridge has been glued not exactly perpendicular to the strings but slightly slanted so that the diapason gives 658mm on the Bass side and 657 on the Treeble; this is something I noticed also in some Torres guitars.



The bass strings need more compensation than the trebles (especially if they are higher) so this is very common. The skew is so slight that you don't notice it normally. If you make the saddle slot skewed with respect to the bridge like the factories do it looks ugly. Sorry I don't have anything else to add about string height, it seems everything has been said.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 6 2015 16:40:00
 
Ricardo

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RE: Flamenco guitar too stiff (in reply to Echi

by the verbal descriptions, both guitars sound Ideal to me. The set up sounds fine on bellido, and the stiff top of conde most likely is contributing to the superior tone.

Good luck finding the holy grail of guitars.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 7 2015 0:33:39
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