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Stephen Faulk GAL Article INCLUDED on flamenco guitar tap plate- golpeador   You are logged in as Guest
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estebanana

Posts: 7999
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

Stephen Faulk GAL Article INCLUDED o... 

The Fall quarter American Lutherie has a two page piece on golpeadores written by yours truly. Starting on page 69. If you subscribe please let me know what you think of my writing as published in Guild magazine.

I can’t obviously share it here do to copyright, but I can talk about the subject matter here. If you have issues to raise that I couldn’t cover in two pages- did the best I could to be comprehensive in that length of article.





The AL editors informed me that authors hold joint copyright so long as the AL magazine is credited as primary publication-

The article is in response to a question:
What is the convention for shaping a tap plate? ( the answer editors finally decided to publish is the long version because they said it dealt with the golpeador as good practical overview)

Golpeador Answer-


The size and shape of the golpeador also referred to as a ‘tap plate’ is not formalized or absolutely strict. Golpeador comes from the Spanish verb ‘golpear ‘ to hit, and the golpeador protects the top of the guitar from the various tapping techniques to accent notes and rhythm in flamenco music.

The function of golpe begins in the right hand. Sitting in playing position, guitar on thigh or over crossed legs, place your thumb on the bass E string just behind the rosette. Your ring finger naturally hangs down and with a short reach can hit the top under the treble e’ string in front of the bridge. The musical quality of the golpe is very personal, but combined use of nail and finger tip flesh creates a sound from a bass thump to a sharp rap when using more nail.

The maestro David Serva told me apropos of developing a good golpe sound “Watch a Spaniard pick up a guitar, they won’t make a big gesture out of trying a rasgueado, it will be a compact movement over the soundhole.” The golpe needn’t be savagery. It’s a musical punctuation mark. Whether the player is soloing, accompanying a dancer with palmas and a singer, the golpe should be tasteful and appropriate for the sentiment of the music. A forceful golpe technique that’s stunning when used perfectly in the musical texture, is the ‘curled index thwack’. Placement is critical because it’s devastatingly percussive and will dent a guitar without a goleador. The right hand is lifted slightly, the index finger is curled and loaded into the crook of the thumb, and a flick release hammers the index nail down on the top. This golpe lands on the bass side waist area, whacking the top and strings simultaneously to sound a chord. Some players request that the area on the bass side of the guitar between bridge and rosette be covered all the way to the binding for this golpe. Ring finger golpe is not so brutal.

Playing the strings muted with the left hand palm is called ‘tapado’ in Spanish. It’s a way of playing rhythm with right hand rasgueado while the strings are dampened to give sounds that don’t really have pitch, but take advantage of the dry crunch of the strings over the hollow guitar corpus. It’s is similar to the ‘chopchop chop’ rhythm guitar heard in Bluegrass or Gypsy Jazz. In flamenco that sounds like this ‘chunka chunka chunk - chunka chunka chunk.... In that churning rhythm action the finger nails are in constant sweeping rotation over the top. When pressure is applied to emphasize an accent the nails can sweep the top leaving fine scratch trails. The tap plate also protects the top from that kind rotational scratching.

Good flamenco guitars emit a golpe sound that is mysterious - like a percussion instrument, perhaps roughly verbalized as a low woody dumbek quality? They are all a little different, but if the guitar responds with a nice hollow musical ring when lightly tapped in the traditional middle /ring finger method, then it’s working. Paying attention to the sound quality of the guitar when its tapped is important in both buying a guitar and determining exactly where to place a golpe to get the most musical result. But some guitars are ‘golpe dead’ - they don’t have an intrinsically beautiful percussive ring when tapped. The quality of sound has to be present first or the tap plate isn’t going to transform an over built or stiff guitar into giving up a musical sound. It’s not your fault as a tap plate installer if a guitar fails to become exciting through the act of adding some mylar.


Many old guitars from the 50’s- 60’s and earlier have been over the bass E and and under the treble e’ with strings A, D, g’ b’ left uncovered. Altogether the two halves were seldom wider than the bridge and stopped short of covering the rosette. Guitarists who had clean technique didn’t dip deep enough between the strings to nail gouged the top with a hard picado run, tso the he guitar face directly under the A D g’b’ strings stayed relatively unmarred. There are some ‘dirty’ players with deeper picado that needs a protective sheet of some material under the strings, this kind of playing begs for a one piece plate which protects under the strings. The one piece golpeador has become convention, but occasionally there’s a call for a neat two piece if a customer who just wants a vintage look, sometimes even harkening back to a nostalgic white set of golpeadores. Aged guitars that are retired from stage playing look grand with an older style golpeador set up. It’s all fun and games, right?


The two main products to stick the golpeador to the guitar is white glue and self adhesive transfer mylar. The traditional way is by cutting the tap plate, lightly sanding the underside that contacts the top and then squeegeeing it down to the top with slightly thinned white glue. You must wait about a week for the glue to dry through the top. Shellac films are permeable by air molecules, and most other finishes to lesser degree so it’s a slow process. The second way is using an adhesive mylar transfer sheet. Peel and stick. Float the pre-cut tap plate on a few drops of soapy water on the top, press, then squeeze out the water drops with an eraser.

The gist of the matter is white glued tap plates take longer to dry, the technique is more difficult and they come up more often. The advantage is they are easy to take off and with lower risk of pulling wood out of the top when removing. I can tell you from my novice days that pulling wood out of the top of your friends vintage Conde’ is something you won’t live down for several years. As David Serva is famous for saying “ You can’t be too careful.” Removing a tap plate is like driving; 80% of the accidents happen near the home because the driver is over confident the drive completed. Attention lapses. Tap plate removal is the same. The last couple of millimeters of mylar are stuck to the wood like a dangerous hanging chad. Don’t get over confident and peel faster because the job is almost done. Go slow, especially with adhesive tap plates. Use naptha and soft painters brushes to solve the adhesive, wick up extra moisture and glue clods with towels.

Each method has pros and cons, you decide the best route in consultation with what the customer wants.

The advantage of going for a bigger tap plate vs. adding sections later is that a little extra plastic isn’t going to effect the sound in anyway you’ll hear with human ears and the customer will be less self conscious about attempting golpe. ( Be wary of damping the natural sound of good golpe by using really thick material, like say formica - with some pounders you’ll be temped!) Using .010 to .014 thickness mylar the guitar will very likely retain a natural open golpe sound. In my opinion anything less than .010” is too thin, and heavier than .014” could begin to reduce natural response. Heavy hitters might warrant heavier material. Mileage varies.

When a guitarist buys a used flamenco guitar it’s not unusual to take it to a luthier to have some tap plate material added here or there if the existing tap plate is lacking where that particular player needs the golpeador most. Often simply adding pieces to the existing golpeador is the most expedient way to deal with protecting the top. I think it really just comes down to the customers threshold of tolerance for the shoe making of different stages of golpe material that accumulate, or whether they would just like to clean the old pieces off and begin over with a new tap plate set up.

A smaller golpeador with revisions and additions later also has a historical precedent. Making a study of the guitars of flamencos from the past eras with your magnifiers, zoom in on tap plates in old photos. You may see sections cobbled together in an array of shapes. White tap material was popular before clear mylar was common and is obvious. There are several famous photos of Diego del Gastor by Steve Kahn and David George, for example, in which Diego is playing a guitar that became identified with him as a signature instrument. Although he had many instruments, one in particular became famously identified with him by the apostrophe’ shaped swatch of white plastic added on the tie block side of the bridge. Diego, as received wisdom says, may have golped a bit wild occasionally, or that location of the top on that guitar had a nice golpe sound and he wanted to hit it. Who knows? A customer once requested that I make a reproduction of Diego’s tap plate for his guitar. I studied the photos carefully, calculating the size and shape of Diego’s famous golpeador so well that even my customers picky guitar teacher complimented the result.

One of the main concerns of customers is whether or not to cover the rosette with the clear tap plate completely, or cut the plate to fit around the outer perimeter of the rosette. In the later treatment, the chances the rosette will suffer thumbnail gouging are higher. Remember the basic right hand position in flamenco guitar is to park the right edge of the thumb on or next to the bass E just behind the rosette, and inevitably even clean players are going to brush the nail over the rosette. Players that dig into that spot with a sharp nail can excavate a pothole that ruins the rosette. Or, in the case of Paco de Lucia, he made a divit in the rosette of one f his Conde’s and through a famous photo of him playing that guitar the divit became a trademark. But since there was only one Paco, I prefer to advocate for covering the rosette. A satisfactory compromise can be reached by cutting the plate to the inside radius of the rosette covering the rosette where the thumb hovers in playing position. Between the bass E and A shape the plate edge to cross diagonally over the rosette and pick up the outside radius of the rosette, leaving the rosette uncovered under the rest of the strings. The rose open to show its beauty, but protected where the thumb could potentially dig in.

In Golpeador design is there’s no formal convention or standard other than protecting the top in a tasteful way. Wood golpe plates give a handsome vintage appearance, but not practical for a guitarist who is liberal with their golpe. The method for getting wood plates to take finger nail abrasion is to layer them with CA glue or epoxy until a tough thin film is built, then it’s flattened and polished. Over time the CA finish will wear down, but it can be repaired with CA and polished over with shellac. Customers occasionally ask for wood tap plates. I’ve used flamed Maple and Maccassar Ebony veneer. ( Wood plates and opaque plastic will prevent oxidation of the surface and there will be a lighter colored ghost once the plate is removed.) Maccassar or other hardwood plates can be stunning, but keep them thin as possible and probably best as two pieces, or even just one for the treble side and a small bit of mylar on the bass side. Wood looks great on romantic era guitar reproductions.

Listen to the golpe quality of the guitar and the particular player for no other reason than to cultivate your own sense of how guitars respond to golpe and how players use it. The information will percolate into your understanding of how to make flamenco guitars. Some guitarists want more tap plate coverage to keep the instrument from losing resale value and have little tolerance for scratches. Others will turn a immaculately French polished instrument to a vegetable crate with tunnels excavated into the top by an errant right nails - the right hand is fine piece of human surgical grade machinery, not a wood moving backhoe. If the customer returns with ‘Trigger’ you must not be any less meticulous in your work. Breathe easy though, as that customer isn’t likely bother you later should a thousandth of a millimeter of tap plate edge pull up.

Personally I apply French polish finishes on my guitars. I’ve developed techniques for nail mark repair on shellac finishes that would be difficult to do on other finish mediums. Poping out dents and nail marks as best you can with a soldering iron and steaming wads of towel can undo a lot of damage. Then several applications of French polish and judicious leveling can bring a flamenco guitar face back up to grade. When I change a golpeador there’s usually some finish repair involved before the new plate goes down, I’m thankful to work on shellac finish in that situation.

When you custom make a guitar for someone, interrogate the player prior to cutting out the golpeador. Sit them down under a hot lamp in a dark unfurnished room, give them truth serum. Grill them on how they use golpe. Lean in and say “Do not lie to me about how you’re going to golpe on my beautifully French polished child.” Ok..... don’t do that to everyone, some customers have a sense of humor, others don’t take a golpe well.

Images are resized automatically to a maximum width of 800px

Attachment (1)

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 12 2020 17:51:51
 
Ricardo

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RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to estebanana

Cool!

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 12 2020 18:12:42
 
Stu

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RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to estebanana

I'm no subscriber. I'd like to be though. Maybe I'll look into it. Do they do a digital magazine?

Good stuff on the article though!

Interested. ...and without being facetious... what could you be discussing about the Golpeador in such detail??
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 12 2020 18:17:58
 
Ricardo

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From: Washington DC

RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to estebanana

quote:

I can’t obviously share it here do to copyright, but I can talk about the subject matter here.


Ever heard of “fair use”?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 12 2020 18:22:50
 
estebanana

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RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to Ricardo

What you or I consider fair use could be different than what the editors and owners of the GAL think is fair use.

This forum includes enough professionals in the guitar business that it could be against the interest of the publication to give them information that’s been freshly published. Fair use is usually reserved for academic settings where students receive the benefit of information for education purposes. That’s an easy definition of fair use. Giving material to a group that’s not academic might not be fair. I don’t want to be on the outs with this magazine because I’d like to write more articles.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 13 2020 17:00:19
 
Ricardo

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Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to estebanana

quote:

Fair use is usually reserved for academic settings where students receive the benefit of information for education purposes.


Well shoot, that’s what I’ve been considering foro Flamenco is exactly since I joined in 2004. You mean this is a place to complain and drop careless opinions???? That’s it, I’m deleting all my posts!

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 13 2020 18:15:45
 
kitarist

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RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to estebanana

quote:

What you or I consider fair use could be different than what the editors and owners of the GAL think is fair use.


Maybe you can ask GAL (which is a non-profit BTW) for explicit permission to share just your 2-pager here? Perhaps they will agree. But I guess it is tricky if they assume that you may do this for any future article of yours in their journal Although they can always say 'no' for future asks, if any.

I looked into membership, but it is $72 US/yr and you only get paper copies with no electronic option, so even if I decide to spend this as the only way to see your article (that's a 'no' in my case as I am not interested in the rest of the journal or the other perks, but others may find it appealing), I would have to wait months and months for it to arrive, if ever, given covid-19 and the current sabotaging of the USPS.

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Konstantin
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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 13 2020 18:33:23
 
eccullen

 

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RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to estebanana

Yes, very cool.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 13 2020 23:08:59
 
Piwin

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RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to estebanana

Congrats!

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 13 2020 23:58:05
 
estebanana

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RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to Ricardo

Don’t be like that. This is a professional as well as a learning forum. Think of how many people sell their work through here.

I can ask them, but otherwise unless I have permission I’m not going to copy the information. Not saying someone else couldn’t. It’s not I’m my interest to go behind their backs if i want to work with them again.

But I do know others here subscribe to the journal.

An aside, it arrived by a private mailing company, which is a concern. The good old egalitarian USPS is under attack and that’s not good.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 14 2020 1:59:58
 
Ricardo

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From: Washington DC

RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to estebanana

Oh what a TEASE!!!

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 14 2020 4:45:24
 
Schieper

 

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RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to estebanana

Cool that you where asked to write...

I am not yet the target market for a subscription. Need to master the hammer firstly :-)

I just asked myselves if a golpador is realy needed on a PU sprayed guitar. Any thoughts?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 14 2020 12:05:37
 
estebanana

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RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to Schieper

PU ? Polyurethane?

Yes, you still need something on top of poly finishes.

The GAL publication has information for all levels of accomplishment, and generally informative articles. I’ve read them for years.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 14 2020 12:14:47
 
mark indigo

 

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RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

quote:

I can’t obviously share it here do to copyright, but I can talk about the subject matter here.


Ever heard of “fair use”?


my understanding of "fair use" is that it doesn't extend to whole articles or whole chapters, only to brief quotations or short excerpts to to exemplify or illustrate points or arguments.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 14 2020 13:38:38
 
Schieper

 

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RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to estebanana

thanks!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 14 2020 15:56:16
 
estebanana

Posts: 7999
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RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to mark indigo

quote:



RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to Ricardo) 

quote:

quote:

I can’t obviously share it here do to copyright, but I can talk about the subject matter here.


Ever heard of “fair use”?


my understanding of "fair use" is that it doesn't extend to whole articles or whole chapters, only to brief quotations or short excerpts to to exemplify or illustrate points or arguments.


Correct, and usually in service of an academic goal. I wouldn’t hesitate to post fragments of the pieces to make a point, but the whole article is beyond fair use.

I have to review the journals reproduction rules.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 14 2020 17:30:51
 
kitarist

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RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to mark indigo

quote:

my understanding of "fair use" is that it doesn't extend to whole articles or whole chapters


That is why I suggested that a permission is obtained. Fair use and other similar considerations about exception from copyright are only relevant when attempting to publish/share something without permission.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 14 2020 17:50:03
 
Ricardo

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From: Washington DC

RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to mark indigo

quote:

my understanding of "fair use" is that it doesn't extend to whole articles or whole chapters, only to brief quotations or short excerpts to to exemplify or illustrate points or arguments.


Exactly...I don’t want him to print the whole boring article, just some extract that we can shred apart with our opposing opinions! . The “nanny nanny boo boo you can’t read this” photo is killing me!!

After all, golpeador removal and replacement is my one and only experience in luthiery.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 14 2020 18:01:37
 
JasonM

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From: Baltimore

RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to estebanana

Been debating on joining. Maybe I will, and then talk about what an amazing article it was. I kind wish they would give you access to past articles though so I can read all the flamenco ones.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 14 2020 19:58:54
 
Stu

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From: London (the South of it), England

RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

After all, golpeador removal and replacement is my one and only experience in luthiery.


Well what else is there? That's what I'm curious about. Maybe cutting it??

Never mind about this fair use discussion.

How about just revealing a few of the things you covered in the article?

Cheers
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 14 2020 20:23:03
 
estebanana

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RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to Stu

I didn’t talk about cutting the material because the focus was about style and generally what golpeadores looked like before clear Mylar and with Mylar. It was a more like a brief function and aesthetics talk.

But now that Ricardo is so badly Jonesing to read it I’m for certain going to withhold it as long as possible to drive him crazy.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 15 2020 0:51:03
 
Ricardo

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From: Washington DC

RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to estebanana

quote:

But now that Ricardo is so badly Jonesing to read it I’m for certain going to withhold it as long as possible to drive him crazy.




It’s like the time I asked about lighter fluid, and it was crickets until AFTER I did it and then you piped in “lighter fluid is NOT pure Naptha!”.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 15 2020 18:21:53
 
estebanana

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RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to Ricardo

Really all I wanted to do was toot my own horn. The article probably wouldn’t be of much interest.
When I write my history of the flamenco guitar with the forward written by Sabicas I’ll make sure you all get signed copies.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 17 2020 1:42:40
 
JasonM

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From: Baltimore

RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to estebanana

quote:

Really all I wanted to do was toot my own horn


Rightly so. Lookin good too, Banana
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 17 2020 2:03:25
 
estebanana

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RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to estebanana

I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out the parallel between the way musicians distinguish between free streaming services and paying for music.

I pay for music and encourage people to buy books and periodicals. There are plans and books I can’t afford that I wish I could, but I don’t ask the the authors for free copies. I’m just surprised no one here subscribed to the journal.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 17 2020 6:56:23
 
Richard Jernigan

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

RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to estebanana

quote:

ORIGINAL: estebanana

I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out the parallel between the way musicians distinguish between free streaming services and paying for music.

I pay for music and encourage people to buy books and periodicals. There are plans and books I can’t afford that I wish I could, but I don’t ask the the authors for free copies. I’m just surprised no one here subscribed to the journal.


I used to subscribe, but apparently there weren't enough articles about classical and flamenco guitars to hold my interest, so my subscription lapsed.

They recently published the plan of my 1982 Arcangel Fernandez blanca, drawn by Tom Blackshear, with a few details by me during the proofreading process. The Guild did a professional job, and sent me a copy.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 17 2020 23:52:25
 
estebanana

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RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to estebanana

Very nice.

One of the public services really if the Guild is that they publish affordable plans which anyone can purchase for a reasonable price.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 18 2020 3:39:25
 
Ricardo

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From: Washington DC

RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article INCLUD... (in reply to estebanana

Great article! I think you hit everything I was thinking. The thumb position you describe is also an issue for two side tap plate set up because a long thumb nail and low bridge will result in a nice dig right below the bass side plate. Also the bridge height is more the culprit regarding the picado digs between strings, rather than the player being “dirty” necessarily. (Speaking for myself...am I dirty? ). The only issue I had was the Serva quote that implies rasgueados are done properly over the soundhole. But time will tell if noobs start criticizing everybody’s rasgueados near the bridge that read that.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 25 2020 17:17:44
 
Mark2

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From: San Francisco

RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article on fla... (in reply to estebanana

Couldn't agree more.

quote:

ORIGINAL: estebanana

I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out the parallel between the way musicians distinguish between free streaming services and paying for music.

I pay for music and encourage people to buy books and periodicals. There are plans and books I can’t afford that I wish I could, but I don’t ask the the authors for free copies. I’m just surprised no one here subscribed to the journal.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 25 2020 18:13:28
 
BarkellWH

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From: Washington, DC

RE: Stephen Faulk GAL Article INCLUD... (in reply to estebanana

Great article, Stephen. Enjoyed reading it all.

Bill

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And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 25 2020 19:35:10
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