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devilhand

 

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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

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

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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

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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: 3203
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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

 

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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

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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

 

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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

 

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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?
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

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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: 1441
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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

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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

 

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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

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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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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 29 2019 0:30:34
 
Tom Blackshear

 

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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: 13290
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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

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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
 
Grashe

 

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

Think about what happens to string tension when you apply a capo. It gets stiffer with less string length right? Longer scale = less string tension. That’s why the 670mm scale Condes of the 1960’s are so easy on the left hand and such a pleasure to play. Obviously string length and tension are not the only factors that affect playability, but the fact that so many players are prejudiced against longer scales is just a misconception.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 13 2021 16:32:41
 
Morante

 

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

The best Conde I have ever played, was 670 and offered for 4000 euros. I believe it was sold for 3000 euros.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 13 2021 17:30:23
 
kitarist

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

quote:

It gets stiffer with less string length right? Longer scale = less string tension.


Actually it is exactly the opposite - longer scale length needs more string tension for the string to be at the same pitch. It makes sense - let's say the shorter scale is mimicked by placing a capo on fret 1 (and the 'longer scale' is without a capo, to the nut). If you wanted the capo-ed string to sound at the same pitch as the uncapo-ed version, you'd have to LOWER the tension when the capo is on. Or, conversely, if you wanted the 'longer scale' (no capo) to be at the same pitch as the capo-ed version, you'd have to increase its tension.

So, longer scale - more string tension; shorter scale - less string tension.




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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 13 2021 17:42:30
 
Echi

 

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

Strings feel lighter though as the string tension is spread throughout a longer scale.
Again, you are right there is more tension but in fact you feel the opposite as the string is somehow more bendable.
Mimmo Peruffo (the founder of Aquila Corde) once explained the physic behind this well known effect but I just don’t find the pdf.
On the contrary short scale guitars often may feel stiffer than they actually are.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 14 2021 0:00:03
 
Pgh_flamenco

 

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From: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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

quote:

Strings feel lighter though as the string tension is spread throughout a longer scale.
Again, you are right there is more tension but in fact you feel the opposite as the string is somehow more bendable.
Mimmo Peruffo (the founder of Aquila Corde) once explained the physic behind this well known effect but I just don’t find the pdf.
On the contrary short scale guitars often may feel stiffer than they actually are.


This isn’t true. Multi-scale electric guitars were developed because string bends on the higher strings - especially the high E - are easier on a shorter scale guitar such as a Les Paul (which has a 24.75-inch scale length). The benefit of a longer scale for the lower strings is better intonation. Fender Strats, and many super Strats, have a 25.5-scale length.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 14 2021 0:58:48
 
Stephen Eden

 

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

quote:

ORIGINAL: kitarist

quote:

It gets stiffer with less string length right? Longer scale = less string tension.


Actually it is exactly the opposite - longer scale length needs more string tension for the string to be at the same pitch. It makes sense - let's say the shorter scale is mimicked by placing a capo on fret 1 (and the 'longer scale' is without a capo, to the nut). If you wanted the capo-ed string to sound at the same pitch as the uncapo-ed version, you'd have to LOWER the tension when the capo is on. Or, conversely, if you wanted the 'longer scale' (no capo) to be at the same pitch as the capo-ed version, you'd have to increase its tension.

So, longer scale - more string tension; shorter scale - less string tension.





This is true, it also allows you to use a lighter weight (tension) string and still create the lower pitched notes with better crispness to them. Although probably negligable in such short distance changes.

I've always used 660mm for flamenco guitars.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 14 2021 8:41:51
 
Richard Jernigan

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From: Austin, Texas USA

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

I play classical on 5 different guitars, flamenco on 3. Seven guitars altogether--I play classical and flamenco both on one of them, a "negra." The negra and one of the classicals are strung with D'Addario EJ-46 high tension strings, on 650mm or 655mm scales. Their action is set low, about 3mm on the bass side, 2.5mm on the treble, at the 12th fret.

It feels like these two take less effort than the other classicals when fretted at or above fifth position. Though the initial tension is higher, the shorter distance to the fret takes the same or less force, the shorter travel gives a more secure feel.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 14 2021 22:22:24
 
Echi

 

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

A low action does a lot definitely.
The matter of perceived tension is not that easy instead.
First thing to consider is that nylon core strings get a smaller caliber when stretched. This may be more evident with certain strings than other and alters the final numbers.
Second aspect is that the set-up and the characteristics of the guitar (and bracing) work for a different response of the sting when plucked in a different section: while is obvious that all the strings are proportionally stiffer if you play them close to the bridge, it’s less obvious that some guitars have different response in different areas: some guitars are perfect for picado (for instance) as the strings bounces back very quickly even when you play midway fro soundhole and bridge. Or for rasgueado as per the way the basses respond etc. This is not always easy to control.
Btw Stephen Hill, in the thread about set up, mentioned how tricky can be the matter of “pulsacion” aka top stiffness as this is related with the natural flexibility of the top across and along the grain direction.
In other words long scale may have a play in many regards, together with top stiffness, choice of strings and action in defining the perceived string tension under your fingers.
In my experience (and I have / had a lot of guitars and made a good number too) a long scale flamenco Guitar is often easier to play and with a better pulsacion than a shorter scale but for the stretching of your left hand.
Some long scale old Conde are a breeze.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 15 2021 8:39:43
 
kitarist

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

quote:

It gets stiffer with less string length right?


So I already commented that your suggested explanation for this was wrong, but what is actually going on then?

I guess how the string feels when we push it transversely to its length is a bit more complicated than simply what its tension is along its length.

Let's assume that we are used to whatever amount we push a given string transversely (displacing it from its resting tensioned position) before releasing it to get a good tone, and we are trying to do the same string displacement on guitars of two different scales; everything else is the same - same string material, diameter, and same pitch (and other things, also the same simplifications).

On the one hand, as already discussed, the tension of the same string at the same pitch for the shorter-scale guitar would be smaller, since it varies as the square of the guitar scale L.

On the other hand, a real strings is not perfectly flexible, i.e. it has some stiffness which resists our bending it transversely to its length. Maybe we can characterize that roughly by borrowing the engineers' concept of bending modulus: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flexural_modulus

So the bending modulus varies as the cube of the length scale, or, if we rearrange it, the force for a given displacement varies as the inverse of the cube of the length scale (1/L)^3, i.e. it gets larger very fast as L gets smaller.

When we displace a string a certain amount, we use a force which is balanced at equilibrium by the sum of the component due to string tension and the component due to bending stiffness.

So, on the shorter-scale guitar, while the force component due to string tension gets smaller as the square of L, the component due to bending stiffness gets larger faster as the cube of 1/L. Maybe that's why the shorter scale guitar can feel like it needs more force to do the same stroke despite smaller string tension T.

But then the two components are not supposed to be the same order of magnitude, and also the typical scale difference is very small, so I am not sure this is what explains it.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 15 2021 19:35:09
 
RobF

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

quote:

But then the two components are not supposed to be the same order of magnitude, and also the typical scale difference is very small, so I am not sure this is what explains it.


Your hypothesis is quite compelling and it “feels” like you’re on the right track with this…just thinking about the behaviour of different lengths of same diameter doweling and it does make sense.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 16 2021 0:38:04
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