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Classical/flamenco guitar scale length reform   You are logged in as Guest
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devilhand

 

Posts: 123
Joined: Oct. 15 2019
 

Classical/flamenco guitar scale leng... 

Do you think that 650 scale length of classical/flamenco guitar is short for modern humans? I read Torres introduced this way back in the 1870's. Average human height has increased since then.

Is there any reason why luthiers still stick with this scale length?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 16 2019 18:01:31
 
kitarist

Posts: 689
Joined: Dec. 4 2012
 

RE: Classical/flamenco guitar scale ... (in reply to devilhand

quote:

Average human height of a human has increased since then.


What does height have to do with it? - you need evidence that human hands are larger to make this argument.

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Konstantin
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 16 2019 18:27:38
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 2666
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Classical/flamenco guitar scale ... (in reply to devilhand

quote:

ORIGINAL: devilhand

Do you think that 650 scale length of classical/flamenco guitar is short for modern humans? I read Torres introduced this way back in the 1870's. Average human height of a human has increased since then.

Is there any reason why luthiers still stick with this scale length?


Francisco Tarrega, who did more than anyone else to make Torres guitars famous, was over six feet (183 cm) tall and had huge hands. This is evident in many of the pieces he composed and fingered. Here's a photo.

In the late 1950s-early 1960s Jose Ramirez III finally succeeded in selling a guitar to Andres Segovia, who used Ramirez instruments extensively in recording and concerts. In search of greater volume and sonority, Ramirez had gone to scale lengths of 660-664mm. Around the same time Conde Hermanos produced flamenco instruments with scale lengths as long as 670mm.

Ramirez flamenco instruments remained at 655mm scale length. In his book Ramirez attributes this to the conservatism of the flamenco players.

The long scale instruments were popular for a certain length of time, but faded in popularity after the death of Segovia. Nowadays 650mm instruments are far more popular in the market, though the long scale Ramirez 1a classicals from the 1960 still command a premium price if they are in excellent condition.

RNJ



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 16 2019 18:41:42
 
JasonM

Posts: 1056
Joined: Dec. 8 2005
From: Baltimore

RE: Classical/flamenco guitar scale ... (in reply to Richard Jernigan

Interesting info, Richard. I didn’t know Ramirez had a book. I remember Anders or someone else saying that the ubiquity of the 650mm scale length is because that’s what the Spanish guitar factories pumped out and sort of became standard. Although I think this is more true of classical guitars.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 16 2019 21:32:47
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 2666
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Classical/flamenco guitar scale ... (in reply to JasonM

Here's a free download of Jose III's book:

https://www.scribd.com/doc/311260901/BOOK-Jose-Ramirez-III-Things-About-the-Guitar

Here you can get a new, but slightly worn paperback copy:

https://www.stringsbymail.com/things-about-the-guitar-jose-ramirez-iii-4940.html

Abebooks.com has a few used paperback copies, at stratospheric prices. I don't remember ever seeing a hardback edition, though I suppose there may have been one.

A very important consideration up to the mid-20th century, was the physical properties of gut strings. Turns out that a gut string of a given length will break when tuned up to a certain pitch, independent of the thickness of the string. To tune the first string to e (about 311 Hz at A=415) with a reasonable margin of safety, allowing for construction and material qualities, wear, changes in humidity, etc., 650mm is a good length to choose for a gut string.

Working with nylon strings, Ramirez could safely increase the string length by 10%, tuned to the higher A=440 pitch.

Baroque guitars often had longer scales, but may have been tuned below e:

https://thedutchluthier.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/stradivari-article-al-122-lr.pdf

The Hill guitar mentioned first is one of five guitars known to survive made by Antonio Stradivari, more famous for his violins.



RNJ

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 16 2019 22:23:46
 
devilhand

 

Posts: 123
Joined: Oct. 15 2019
 

RE: Classical/flamenco guitar scale ... (in reply to kitarist

quote:

ORIGINAL: kitarist

quote:

Average human height of a human has increased since then.


What does height have to do with it? - you need evidence that human hands are larger to make this argument.


What I was thinking was a bigger guitar. Longer scale length -> longer neck (13 or 14 fret instead of 12) without changing the distance between frets -> bigger guitar body.

After reading Mr Jernigan's posts, increasing guitar scale length seems problematic.

Do you think one can increase the guitar body size significantly while holding the scale length constant?
I'm not the tallest and biggest guy, but all these classical/flamenco guitars are kinda small to me. Flamenco guitar with her thinner sides makes the situation even worse. I guess we need more ergonomic instruments nowadays. I would call it a human centered approach.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 17 2019 11:57:06
 
RobF

Posts: 344
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RE: Classical/flamenco guitar scale ... (in reply to devilhand

quote:

Do you think one can increase the guitar body size significantly while holding the scale length constant?


The problem is achieving a balance between structural integrity and the ability to produce sound. A top has to be light enough that the strings can drive it, but also thick enough or sufficiently braced for its area that it won’t collapse under load. I realize this might be a simple answer to a complex question, but that’s the gist of it.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 17 2019 14:56:32
 
Echi

 

Posts: 649
Joined: Jan. 11 2013
 

RE: Classical/flamenco guitar scale ... (in reply to devilhand

I have a 670 mm Conde which I find comfortable enough, due to a proper set up.
By chance I tried a short scale Conde of the same type/period and it was lacking something both in terms of tone and “pulsacion”/top bounciness. Not sure how much is due to the different scale but this experience left me the idea 670 works well (or better) with old Condes.
At the end of the day the right “pulsacion” , a low action and a well worked fretboard count more than the scale in the overall feeling.
Beyond 670 mm, too much stretching for the left hand.

655 mm sounds ideal, whatever brought to that number.
Re: Ramirez we should keep in mind that Segovia played for 25 years a stiff top Hauser with ht strings and high action. He never liked light tops and easy guitars. No doubts he preferred 664 scale.

Ramirez IV referred it took some years to satisfactorily bring back the 664 mm Ramirez to the ordinary 650 mm scale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 18 2019 13:40:53
 
mark indigo

 

Posts: 2697
Joined: Dec. 5 2007
From: UK

RE: Classical/flamenco guitar scale ... (in reply to devilhand

quote:

Do you think one can increase the guitar body size significantly while holding the scale length constant?
I'm not the tallest and biggest guy, but all these classical/flamenco guitars are kinda small to me. Flamenco guitar with her thinner sides makes the situation even worse. I guess we need more ergonomic instruments nowadays. I would call it a human centered approach.


when I posted a similar question a few years back someone told me to take up the cello

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 18 2019 14:58:36
 
JasonM

Posts: 1056
Joined: Dec. 8 2005
From: Baltimore

RE: Classical/flamenco guitar scale ... (in reply to mark indigo

Or take up Mandolin for a while then your guitar will feel like playing a double bass.

@Richard, thanks for the links to the Ramirez books. That Scribd site is very cool. I got distracted reading some of the Ramanillo’s book on Torres
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 18 2019 15:27:48
 
kitarist

Posts: 689
Joined: Dec. 4 2012
 

RE: Classical/flamenco guitar scale ... (in reply to mark indigo

quote:

when I posted a similar question a few years back someone told me to take up the cello


Paul Galbraith is half-way there already



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Konstantin
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 18 2019 17:36:02
 
Ricardo

Posts: 11335
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Classical/flamenco guitar scale ... (in reply to devilhand

Practice on a ukulele for several hours. Your smallest guitar will feel gigantic.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 19 2019 1:02:00
 
Tom Blackshear

 

Posts: 1977
Joined: Apr. 15 2008
 

RE: Classical/flamenco guitar scale ... (in reply to Ricardo

Strangely enough, I have a Paulino Bernabe flamenco guitar plan from Guillermo Rios's old guitar I copied back in the 1980's that would fit a 640 mm scale according to bridge placement and box size.

The last guitar of this model that I built was a classical which turned out well with a 26" scale. Crazy how this runs together with the different scales.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 25 2019 16:33:33
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1370
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Classical/flamenco guitar scale ... (in reply to kitarist

quote:

Paul Galbraith is half-way there already

He is so polite with his endpin onto the soundbox on the floor. I was married to a freelance cellist for 7 years. She carried a pocket knife for cutting a hole in stage floors for her endpin to rest in.

On the question of scale length, I much prefer 656 mm for flamenco guitars. It just feels better to me.

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www.edluthier.com
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I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 29 2019 0:30:34
 
Tom Blackshear

 

Posts: 1977
Joined: Apr. 15 2008
 

RE: Classical/flamenco guitar scale ... (in reply to constructordeguitarras

quote:

On the question of scale length, I much prefer 656 mm for flamenco guitars. It just feels better to me.


Right on, Amigo.

I wish I had the money to invest in one of your guitars.

Andy would be there too, as an equal choice.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 29 2019 14:59:39
 
Ricardo

Posts: 11335
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Classical/flamenco guitar scale ... (in reply to kitarist

quote:

ORIGINAL: kitarist

quote:

when I posted a similar question a few years back someone told me to take up the cello


Paul Galbraith is half-way there already




I saw him in a church once, sat way in the back, and he had that soundbox amplifier. Couldn’t hear one single note.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 29 2019 18:03:54
 
tri7/5

 

Posts: 536
Joined: May 5 2012
 

RE: Classical/flamenco guitar scale ... (in reply to devilhand

Personally find 655-660 the best. Better sound separation and faster string reset than a 650. You also can use lighter gauge strings for a brighter sound since you are going to get a bit more tension from the scale. Some 650's just sound more muddled to me when played hard. Call me crazy too but I find that 655+ lends itself to a lower string action than anything on the 650 side.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 29 2019 21:20:41
 
Echi

 

Posts: 649
Joined: Jan. 11 2013
 

RE: Classical/flamenco guitar scale ... (in reply to devilhand

It’s difficult to clear our ideas up in this field.
I think too the speed of string reset (aka pulsacion) is the key of playability but I made up the idea that the right piece of spruce could be the main factor here. Scale is important as well, but my guess is it comes just after it.
I have 2 similar guitars but with 655 and 670 diapason and in my case the strings feel softer in the 670 mm fretboard.
It’s counterintuitive as in fact there is more tension in the longer scale Guitar but that’s what you feel under the fingers.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 30 2019 8:54:00
 
tri7/5

 

Posts: 536
Joined: May 5 2012
 

RE: Classical/flamenco guitar scale ... (in reply to Echi

quote:

ORIGINAL: Echi

It’s difficult to clear our ideas up in this field.
I think too the speed of string reset (aka pulsacion) is the key of playability but I made up the idea that the right piece of spruce could be the main factor here. Scale is important as well, but my guess is it comes just after it.
I have 2 similar guitars but with 655 and 670 diapason and in my case the strings feel softer in the 670 mm fretboard.
It’s counterintuitive as in fact there is more tension in the longer scale Guitar but that’s what you feel under the fingers.


I too have had a 665 feel soft under the fingers. It to me seems to be partial to the stiffness of the top and overall construction. Some guitars are just more taunghntly build. Classical guitars to me always seem to have a lot of top flex and play looser.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 30 2019 12:20:04
 
rombsix

Posts: 6974
Joined: Jan. 11 2006
From: Beirut, Lebanon

RE: Classical/flamenco guitar scale ... (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

Couldn’t hear one single note.




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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 30 2019 23:17:34
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