Foro Flamenco


Posts Since Last Visit | Advanced Search | Home | Register | Login

Today's Posts | Inbox | Profile | Our Rules | Contact Admin | Log Out



Welcome to one of the most active flamenco sites on the Internet. Guests can read most posts but if you want to participate click here to register.

This site is dedicated to the memory of Paco de Lucía, Ron Mitchell, Guy Williams, Linda Elvira, Philip John Lee, Craig Eros, Ben Woods, David Serva and Tom Blackshear who went ahead of us.

We receive 12,200 visitors a month from 200 countries and 1.7 million page impressions a year. To advertise on this site please contact us.





Dead pre-nylon guitars?   You are logged in as Guest
Users viewing this topic: none
  Printable Version
All Forums >>Discussions >>General >> Page: [1]
Login
Message<< Newer Topic  Older Topic >>
 
Fawkes

 

Posts: 104
Joined: Feb. 11 2015
 

Dead pre-nylon guitars? 

Here is an old post summarizing info from John Huber's book The Development of the Modern Guitar. It's interesting if at times doubt-provoking. I'm very curious about the impact of nylon strings on guitar design and perception of old guitars.

quote:

ORIGINAL: a_arnold

There is a great account of the origin of nylon guitar strings in John Huber's book, "the development of the modern guitar"

Here's a synopsis:

Segovia had a Manuel Ramirez from 1912 to 1937, then switched to Hauser, whose guitar (with Segovia's help) was modeled on Ramirez and Torres designs. Both were gut-strung.

Then WW2 came along, and Segovia's German source of gut (guy named Pirastro) dried up. He says he went to Albert Augustine (At that time an employee of the Spanish Guitar Centre in NY (where I got my first guitar!) and Dupont came to the rescue (unclear whether it was after a request by Augustine or by Segovia). They supplied monofilament that they were making anyway for fishing line, tennis racquets, etc. Augustine hired E.O. Mari and D'Addario and worked with Dupont and Segovia until they had something Segovia could use.

Segovia credits Augustine with developing nylon strings, but Rifat Eisenbel (Concertiste in France) claims he made the first set in Turkey in 1938.

E.O. Mari struck out on his own during the war and began exporting to Venezuela, and Dupont focused on parachute production, and almost lost interest in strings, but after the war they realized that gut string manufacturers were suddenly making a bundle, so they jumped back into the market.

At this point, however, the guitar string market was still too small to justify much experimentation, so they kept on using the same materials that they used for fishing line, tennis nets/racquets, etc.

By the 50's, thanks to the endorsement by Segovia, nylon strings were established and accepted as equivalent to gut, but not perfected.

Here's where it gets interesting.

Nylon is strung at higher tensions.

This had cascading effects on guitar design.

Higher tension nylon tended to make the older (pre and early post-WW2 guitars) sound dead because the instruments weren't designed for the tension. The effect wasn't noticed at first. New players had nothing else to compare to, and the older players liked the durability and stability of the nylon.

So when everybody began restringing with nylon their guitars didn't sound so great after a while. Sometimes there was actual structural failure, but more often, the guitars just started to sound dead after a while, and a mythology got started that guitars have a finite life span -- that they are too fragile to remain healthy for the lifetime of the performer -- when in fact, it was the transition to nylon that made them sound dead. Players began describing their guitars as "played out".

At that point (late 50's) Segovia went back to Ramirez and worked with him to design a bigger, sturdier guitar that would stand the higher tension. He was enormously pleased with the result and retired his Hauser, which by then didn't sound so good. Still doesn't, according to Huber, who played it, but it was strung with nylon.

The higher tension brought more volume and projection. Segovia was at his height as a performer, and by that time had moved the guitar from the parlor and small hall venue into the large concert hall where he needed the projection. So he was really happy with the new Ramirez guitar design and power. (He also had BIG powerful hands and needed a bigger fingerboard).

That started a trend toward more and more volume, and builders began experimenting with that as their goal. Which led to longer string lengths, shifting from 65 to about 66.5 cm., which increased the tension on the bridge by another 10%. Guitar designs changed still more in response. Still based on Torres, but tweaked for nylon.

The story then shifts to the use of cedar in the Madrid school, led by Ramirez, which tended in the 60's to build with flat, often cedar tops, while spruce was generally preferred in Granada, which Huber theorizes may be easier to deform into the arch that gives more "punch" and structural integrity to a top). He seems to suggest that cedar has more inherent stiffness as a wood, but is too stiff to deform easily (although Dieter Hopf achieves pretty precise control of arching in his cedar tops), while spruce is more easily deformed into an arch, so can gain strength and stiffness from the arch geometry, so it can be thinner, lighter.

In both cases, arch or cedar, the search for strength and stiffness and greater volume ultimately was the result of the shift to nylon. . .

I'd be interested in hearing some luthiers' comments on Huber's ideas. He's not a luthier, I don't think.

Tony Arnold


The post comes from a 2007 thread that was in the off-topic forum:

http://www.foroflamenco.com/tm.asp?m=73927&appid=&p=&mpage=1&key=&tmode=&smode=&s=#73927

Do old guitars as a rule need to be babied in terms of string tension? Do lots of, for instance, Estesos not sound their best because they are overstrung?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 20 2023 18:44:10
 
kitarist

Posts: 1718
Joined: Dec. 4 2012
 

RE: Dead pre-nylon guitars? (in reply to Fawkes

quote:

Here's where it gets interesting.

Nylon is strung at higher tensions.

This had cascading effects on guitar design.


But this is not true - gut strings would have had higher tension all else being equal (pitch, diameter(*), guitar scale length) as gut was denser than nylon. So I stop reading here as it seems what follows proceeds from this faulty claim.

(*) In practice gut strings were thinner so the overall tension was about the same.

_____________________________

Konstantin
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 20 2023 18:53:38
 
Fawkes

 

Posts: 104
Joined: Feb. 11 2015
 

RE: Dead pre-nylon guitars? (in reply to kitarist

quote:

ORIGINAL: kitarist
But this is not true - gut strings would have had higher tension all else being equal (pitch, diameter, guitar scale length) as gut was denser than nylon. So I stop reading here as it seems what follows proceeds from this faulty claim.


What you say is further borne out by a quick survey of tensions in recreated historical gut string sets vs. modern. Other sources suggest any difference in design with changing string materials was more about accommodating the comparatively reduced brightness of nylon trebles.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 20 2023 19:37:33
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14912
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Dead pre-nylon guitars? (in reply to Fawkes

quote:

Do old guitars as a rule need to be babied in terms of string tension? Do lots of, for instance, Estesos not sound their best because they are overstrung?


The old flamenco guitars in Brune’s shop I tried, I assume had nylon strings on, were all pretty normal sounding and feeling guitars. Here is a 1923 Esteso owned by Montoya that would have used gut back in the day:



Since then I tried another old one at Guitar Salon in Cali that was also pretty normal and bright as any modern guitar.

What changes guitars very quick is relative HUMIDITY.

_____________________________

CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 21 2023 11:02:52
 
Echi

 

Posts: 1133
Joined: Jan. 11 2013
 

RE: Dead pre-nylon guitars? (in reply to Fawkes

I agree with Kitarist even though it should be considered that probably the final numbers would be equivalent as the string calibre of the gut ended up being smaller than nylon’s under tension. PS: just noticed the *.
Here is a full report of the topic, unfortunately just in Italian:
https://aquilacorde.com/chitarra/le-corde-per-chitarra-tra-il-settecento-e-lavvento-del-nylon-parte-3/

In fact the main difference was in the different tone of nylon, particularly with the trebles. It’s interesting to think that Santos or Torres tailored their guitars having in mind a different sound output produced by gut strings rather than the sound we associate today to their instruments with nylon strings.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 21 2023 14:40:40
 
Fawkes

 

Posts: 104
Joined: Feb. 11 2015
 

RE: Dead pre-nylon guitars? (in reply to Echi

quote:

ORIGINAL: Echi
It’s interesting to think that Santos or Torres tailored their guitars having in mind a different sound output produced by gut strings rather than the sound we associate today to their instruments with nylon strings.


Not to mention wound silk basses. Insofar as old guitars have understated basses, then add the less bright sound of wound silk (if Aquila is on the right track) and what sound conception were they after?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 21 2023 19:22:33
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14912
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Dead pre-nylon guitars? (in reply to Fawkes

quote:

and what sound conception were they after?


um, you guys do know audio recordings exist of guitars before 1950?

_____________________________

CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 22 2023 10:42:30
 
Morante

 

Posts: 2202
Joined: Nov. 21 2010
 

RE: Dead pre-nylon guitars? (in reply to Ricardo

quote:


Since then I tried another old one at Guitar Salon in Cali that was also pretty normal and bright as any modern guitar.


My only experience was when the last members of one of the great houses in Cádiz found two old guitars and wanted to sell them. They were brought to the taller of my friiend Rafael. We cleaned them up, made some minor repairs and strung them up with modern strings. One was from José Ramirez, the other from Manuel, possibly a Santos.

Both sounded quite normal and could have been used on stage or in the studio.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 22 2023 16:14:30
 
Fawkes

 

Posts: 104
Joined: Feb. 11 2015
 

RE: Dead pre-nylon guitars? (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

ORIGINAL: Ricardo
um, you guys do know audio recordings exist of guitars before 1950?


That depends on how narrow your conception of "know" is. I like to think I would have remembered them in connection with this issue soon. Thank you for the reminder.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 22 2023 21:15:47
 
machopicasso

 

Posts: 980
Joined: Nov. 27 2010
 

RE: Dead pre-nylon guitars? (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

What changes guitars very quick is relative HUMIDITY.


How does it change them?

My Sanchis Lopez spent 11 years in humid climates; then moved to a dry climate for 2 years; back to a humid climate for one; and now to a middle-of-the-road one.

I notice a sudden increase in humidity via the strings going out of tune but am curious what else I should be listening for.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 23 2023 3:28:27
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14912
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Dead pre-nylon guitars? (in reply to machopicasso

On the day it WILL rain, the guitar will be mute. The day after it rains it will sound bright and clear.

_____________________________

CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 23 2023 10:42:04
Page:   [1]
All Forums >>Discussions >>General >> Page: [1]
Jump to:

New Messages No New Messages
Hot Topic w/ New Messages Hot Topic w/o New Messages
Locked w/ New Messages Locked w/o New Messages
 Post New Thread
 Reply to Message
 Post New Poll
 Submit Vote
 Delete My Own Post
 Delete My Own Thread
 Rate Posts


Forum Software powered by ASP Playground Advanced Edition 2.0.5
Copyright © 2000 - 2003 ASPPlayground.NET

0.09375 secs.