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Armando

Posts: 302
Joined: May 27 2005
From: Zürich, Switzerland

Old vs modern sound 

Hi guys

I was rencently into the romantic guitar because i have decided to build a replica of a Panormo guitar.
By listening to a number of guitars of the 1810 to 1850 period from french, italian, english and spanish makers i realized that many of those guitars have a box like tone close to what we know from the Ukulele today.
When looking at the Panormo plans availlabe on the web i was surprised to see that they apparently had a top thickness of 2.5 to 2.3mm and about an equal thickness for the back.
This came very much as a surprise to me because those guitars are smaller than the modern ones with a scale length of only about 630mm.
So yes, a guitar of that size with such thick top and back will likely produce a box like sound with lot's of treble and little bass. In case of Panormo there is also a seven fan bracing system which seems to me to add to the overbuild. I know most luthiers will argue that all of that will depend on the stiffness of the material used and basically i agree, but according to my personal experience there is rarely any spruce around that floppy that a top thickness of 2.5mm would be justified. As much as i know, Torres worked with much thinner tops of <1.5mm on many of his guitars and they never had a box like sound.
For the Panormos, not all of them have that either. Some of them are sounding very pleasing too. So, i'm wondering if the tops were made that thick on purpose ,becasue that box like sound was in fashion back then or if it was just done because of lack of knowing better. It's known that just around 1800 the guitar went from the 11 course to the 6string guitar, so a guitar with the nearly double amount of strings will need to have a stronger soundboard. Is it that they just forgot to adapt the thickness to 6 strings? We also know that excpet the spanish luthiers most other luthiers of the period used the ladder bracing as known from the luthe construction. This ofcourse resulted in a brighter tone of the guitar per say. The majority of guitars made by spanish luthiers of that period however do not have that box like sound probably because they worked with finer thicknesses and a floating fan bracing system.

Anyone some insights on this?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 23 2020 16:50:24
 
Andy Culpepper

Posts: 2952
Joined: Mar. 30 2009
From: NY, USA

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to Armando

quote:

So, i'm wondering if the tops were made that thick on purpose ,becasue that box like sound was in fashion back then


Some would say that sound has been in fashion among many contemporary flamenco guitarists for at least the last 20 years...

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Andy Culpepper, luthier
http://www.andyculpepper.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 24 2020 3:50:13
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to Armando

The Viennese sound and the Spanish sound are not really new and old, both old, but different,

German and French guitar making sought a different sound, you call it boxy. It’s just a different sound than the post Torres guitars. It’s much due to the transverse brace, and the size of the body. The best German guitars that are in that school can be quite focused and loud. Or have focused projection.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 24 2020 10:00:51
 
Ricardo

Posts: 13007
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to Armando

“Box like sound” is 100% subjective and means absolutely nothing. We can talk in terms of mids trebles and basses though. Most of the time, to my ear, “bassy guitars” or ones that have a percussive thumping low end, are simply scooped out in the mid range, and vice versa. When the mids are strong, the guitar is more balanced and if your aural focus is only bass or trebles, both might seem “lacking”. In the end, all guitars sound exactly like ukeleles but they have bass strings added.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 24 2020 15:55:50
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to Armando

Which plan are you looking at?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 25 2020 1:03:28
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1488
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to Armando

quote:

according to my personal experience there is rarely any spruce around that floppy that a top thickness of 2.5mm would be justified

I make all of my spruce soundboards about that thick--in most areas--and I use fan bracing. And quite a few people like the sound and playability of my guitars.

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Ethan Deutsch
www.edluthier.com
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I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 25 2020 3:02:39
 
Armando

Posts: 302
Joined: May 27 2005
From: Zürich, Switzerland

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to Armando

A specific sound is hard to describe with words and even more difficult to explain differencies in sound coloration and timbre. I think Stephen Faulk understood best what i mean.
I'm concluding that the sound i'm talking about was desired and guitars built to produce that sound, just as
Torres built differently to produce his own distinct sound.
So it's a matter of taste and it depends on the sound you want to achive.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 26 2020 20:54:14
 
Echi

 

Posts: 939
Joined: Jan. 11 2013
 

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to Armando

quote:

For the Panormos, not all of them have that either. Some of them are sounding very pleasing too. So, i'm wondering if the tops were made that thick on purpose , becasue that box like sound was in fashion back then or if it was just done because of lack of knowing better.

As you say: Both the options are good but I suppose customers come first.
In fact Josef Pages (and probably other makers in the South of Spain) used to build a kind of guitar very similar to Panormo's lighter models.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 26 2020 21:18:48
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to Armando

These guys are fixated on flamenco guitars and they have tunnel vision/ hearing.

Go over to Delcamp and start a talk about the Viennese sound vs Torres sound and see if Scot Tremblay shows up. He knows.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 27 2020 13:08:56
 
Armando

Posts: 302
Joined: May 27 2005
From: Zürich, Switzerland

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to Echi

quote:


As you say: Both the options are good but I suppose customers come first.
In fact Josef Pages (and probably other makers in the South of Spain) used to build a kind of guitar very similar to Panormo's lighter models.


So what you are saying is that some Panormos where built more lightly than others. I was assuming that, because it is known that Josef Pages was his geatest idol and from Josef Pages i heard that his guitars were light as a feather. So a guitar with 2.5mm top and 2.7mm back would be anything else than a lightly built guitar, given it's size. It would also explain why some Panormos are much closer to my sound ideal than others. So i think it's not a good idea to be dogmatic and strictly follow the measurements of a blue print. Actually i think that's never a good idea.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 27 2020 14:15:55
 
Armando

Posts: 302
Joined: May 27 2005
From: Zürich, Switzerland

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to estebanana

quote:

ORIGINAL: estebanana

These guys are fixated on flamenco guitars and they have tunnel vision/ hearing.

Go over to Delcamp and start a talk about the Viennese sound vs Torres sound and see if Scot Tremblay shows up. He knows.


I don't know to whom you refere but as far as i am concerened i'm spending lots of time to hear classical playing on antique guitars from spanish, french and italian makers. I think the topic is quite extensive and it would also not make justice to throw all makers of a specific country or school into the same pot. So what i want to say is that there is no simple answer on my question and i knew that.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 27 2020 14:24:09
 
Echi

 

Posts: 939
Joined: Jan. 11 2013
 

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to Armando

quote:

So what you are saying is that some Panormos where built more lightly than others.

Yes, I believe so.
I’d suggest you to send an è-mail to John Ray for an advice about Panormo and the guitars of Pages.
John is a great guy and probably can share first hand information.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 27 2020 15:39:22
 
JasonM

Posts: 1701
Joined: Dec. 8 2005
From: Baltimore

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to estebanana

quote:

These guys are fixated on flamenco guitars and they have tunnel vision/ hearing.


I’ve heard about these so called classical guitars. People are afraid to allow the bare skin of their arms come into contact with the body. And they straddle them between their legs. Wieeeerdos!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 27 2020 15:45:57
 
RobF

Posts: 1119
Joined: Aug. 24 2017
 

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to Armando

quote:

Ricardo - “Box like sound” is 100% subjective and means absolutely nothing. We can talk in terms of mids trebles and basses though
quote:

Armando - “A specific sound is hard to describe with words and even more difficult to explain differencies in sound coloration and timbre. I think Stephen Faulk understood best what i mean.”

But you have no way of knowing this for certain, precisely for the reason Ricardo is stating.

Some descriptive words, like “bright”, “deep”, “resonant”, “harsh”, or “clear” can be fairly easily correlated to the tonal spectrum or a response characteristic, but words like “boxy”, “woody”, “lyrical” are pretty subjective and can mean wildly different things to different people. Maybe you and Stephen are outliers and the rest of the planet attributes “box-like” to an entirely different sonic characteristic. Or maybe not. The only way to know is to assign specific examples to the description. My point is, perhaps the use of vague terms is not going to be helpful when attempting to address what are often posed as highly specific questions about implementation.

It appears that you may have a target sound that you’re trying to achieve. I have no idea what that is. It appears Stephen does. Will John or Scott? Who knows? It’ll depend on what their idea of “boxy” means. Maybe they won’t even want to get involved in a discussion based on vague terms.

I used to have an old teacher from my electronics days who would say “if you want to be an engineer, you have to start to think like an engineer.” I think this also applies to guitar making. It’s OK to analyze and discuss, but at the end of the day, building a couple in each of the styles that you’re curious about is likely going to get you further. It’s a forest for the trees thing, sometimes having a laser like focus on a specific detail isn’t going to get the job done, but just throwing caution to the wind and doing the job might answer the question plus a few more bonus ones, to boot. You might be surprised at what is discovered, as some previously held assumptions may get challenged.

Pen on paper is good, but sawdust on the floor is a pretty good teacher, too.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 27 2020 16:11:25
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to RobF

quote:

Pen on paper is good, but sawdust on the floor is a pretty good teacher, too.


This is profound as duck.

What I’m saying directly is talk to Scot Tremblay in public on another discussion board, because most of the makers here are hyper focused n one thing pretty much to the exclusion of Viennese guitar design.
There are intersections between early romantic guitars, Northern European work is significantly different and warrants going to talk to someone who’s good at making them. You want to ask people like Gary Southwell or Scot or a few others I know.

19th century guitars are lightly built in general, and probably are made of maple more than anything, so a back made to 2.7 mm wouldn’t be super thick, just beefy.

In terms of sound- it’s going to sound however it sounds- what it should accomplish is it suited to play and feel like the original? Does it accommodate the players with an interest in that repertoire?

Lastly, Mertz is boring, start looking at Russian 7 strings from the 19th century. That’s where all the romantic guitar focus is today.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 28 2020 0:11:13
 
RobF

Posts: 1119
Joined: Aug. 24 2017
 

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to estebanana

quote:

This is profound as duck...In terms of sound- it’s going to sound however it sounds- what it should accomplish is it suited to play and feel like the original?


Lol. I hope I’m not coming across as discouraging to anyone, it’s absolutely not my intent. What you’re saying pretty well sums up what I was trying to get at, albeit in my long-winded manner. Or maybe I wasn’t even getting that across very well, either.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 28 2020 0:35:39
 
Armando

Posts: 302
Joined: May 27 2005
From: Zürich, Switzerland

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to Armando

RobF
quote:

I used to have an old teacher from my electronics days who would say “if you want to be an engineer, you have to start to think like an engineer.” I think this also applies to guitar making. It’s OK to analyze and discuss, but at the end of the day, building a couple in each of the styles that you’re curious about is likely going to get you further.


I'm doing that. It's not the first such guitar i'm making. It's the 2nd now. That's not a lot of experience though and for a reason i'm trying to understand a couple of things better by asking questions where i think there are people with more experience on the matter than i have. If i'm using words like "boxy" it's because no better word comes to my mind to describe it. I could post links to videos where such instruments are played but i'm not sure i'll get any further with that.

quote:

It appears that you may have a target sound that you’re trying to achieve. I have no idea what that is. It appears Stephen does. Will John or Scott? Who knows? It’ll depend on what their idea of “boxy” means. Maybe they won’t even want to get involved in a discussion based on vague terms.


Sure i do but at least as much i have a sound in my ear that i don't wish to achieve, unless people familiar with original instruments will tell me that it must sound like this because else it would not be a good replica of that instrument.


Thanks Echi
quote:

John is a great guy and probably can share first hand information.


I am already in touch with luthiers from Granada who have worked on original instruments. Sadly they are not open to speak about those things especially if they don't know you personally and especially not via Internet. I don't know about John Ray. I believe he is a good person. I know him only by the name so far.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 28 2020 21:13:08
 
RobF

Posts: 1119
Joined: Aug. 24 2017
 

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to Armando

quote:

I'm doing that. It's not the first such guitar i'm making. It's the 2nd now... I am already in touch with luthiers from Granada who have worked on original instruments. Sadly they are not open to speak about those things...

In light of this, I think this is where Stephen’s suggestion has a lot of merit. He could likely pave the way for you by either introducing you to a couple of the makers he mentioned or, at the least, alert them to your situation. It may well be that the characteristics of certain styles will conflict with your ideal, and they could be helpful in steering you towards designs most likely to give you the results that you’re seeking.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 28 2020 21:36:07
 
Andy Culpepper

Posts: 2952
Joined: Mar. 30 2009
From: NY, USA

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to RobF

quote:

words like “boxy”, “woody”, “lyrical” are pretty subjective and can mean wildly different things to different people.


In Armando's post he actually provided his definition: "lots of treble and little bass". I've heard the word boxy used to describe guitars that are predominantly midrange and treble focused, which a lot of people really like in flamenco guitars. So my comment was meant to imply that it's entirely possible that that sound could have been in fashion in a different era, albeit for a different style of music.

Now if only there were someone here who had actually made a guitar out of a box...

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http://www.andyculpepper.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 30 2020 23:26:14
 
ernandez R

Posts: 493
Joined: Mar. 25 2019
From: Alaska USA

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to Armando

Sawdust on the floor!

There is a dialogue I recall, from a Lary Nivin sci fi novel, could have been Ringworld but perhaps not. The discussion is some so called scientist but really just historien who do no real resurch, they just talk about what was written and make judgments according without gaining any experience. I might have been sixteen or so. I see a lot of that today in my aviation world, so much talk but few had walked the walk and I'm talking real world experience in person, not even going to mention web forums etc...

I'm vary new to building, closed up my eleventh box just the other day, but I'm seeing directions I want to go: thinner here, thicker there, tossed ten new bridge blanks on the concreat last nigh discribing density and dampening to my minion and we graded them. Then he ruined them all. Ha ha haa, I made some comment of discust, tossed them in the trash and told him to make up another batch. Sawdust indeed!



HR

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I prefer my flamenco guitar spicy,
doesn't have to be fast,
should have some meat on the bones,
can be raw or well done,
as long as it doesn't sound like it's turning green on an elevator floor.

www.instagram.com/threeriversguitars
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 31 2020 4:23:17
 
Stephen Eden

 

Posts: 894
Joined: Apr. 12 2008
From: UK

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to Armando

I know exactly what you mean by boxy as I've used the same description since I first played a guitar with the same characteristics - or perhaps it was when I first played a more 'open' sounding guitar. I find you will get a 'boxy' sound as the body resonance goes up.

I've often described the difference as with a boxy guitar as a player you can tell where the sound is coming from where the opposite the sound almost envelopes you.

Fleta for instance is a classical guitar make that has that 'boxy sound as his guitars are very heavily built high and body resonances to match. I am not a fan of that sound so don't go near it.

However I have noticed that a lot of flamenco guitars have a similar 'boxy' sound. The golpe actually gives quite a lot away about how to achieve that sound on a lighter guitar too. I think the sound boards of that style of guitar finished stiffer so the golpe pitch is higher than a guitar that doesn't have that boxy sound.

I hope you manage to glean some information from that Armando. That's about all that comes to mind about it.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 4 2021 13:20:43
 
Paul Magnussen

Posts: 1732
Joined: Nov. 8 2010
From: London (living in the Bay Area)

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to ernandez R

quote:

There is a dialogue I recall, from a Lary Nivin sci fi novel, could have been Ringworld but perhaps not. The discussion is some so called scientist but really just historien who do no real resurch, they just talk about what was written and make judgments according without gaining any experience.


That sounds like an Asimov book to me: Pebble in the Sky?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 4 2021 20:34:58
 
cigany

Posts: 82
Joined: Jan. 30 2008
From: USA

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to Armando

Well, the best boxy to my ears is cigar box boxy.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 5 2021 18:54:18
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Old vs modern sound (in reply to cigany

He’s playing himself some Malagwahna


https://youtu.be/EJnqzmYUITs



Boxy boxy and stinky

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 11 2021 4:01:39
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