What Makes Up A Flamenco Guitar?

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An experienced luthier of flamenco guitars can build a high quality instrument in around 300 hours. That's about 12 and a half solid day's work. A beautifully made flamenco guitar isn't cheap, but when you consider the care and attention needed to create such an instrument, the costs are perfectly understandable.

The flamenco guitar is the precursor to the modern classical guitar, and has a connection with the the most passionate of Europe's artforms. Combining both dance and music, flamenco is at the very core of Spain's culture. The elegant, powerful dances and energetic music are bound to the flamenco guitar.


To understand this remarkable instrument a little better, it's important to know the terms of each part. While this covers the flamenco guitar, these terms relate to the basic shape of most guitars out there.
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Body

The body is the main, largest part of the guitar. This is where the sound is projected from, as the frequencies from the strings reverberate around the inside of the box and out through the sound hole. The traditional construction of the body can be made from cypress, spruce, cedar or rosewood, although the latter tends to be used in modern styles.

Upper and Lower Bout

Flamenco and classical guitars have a familiar shape that curves out at either end of the body and tapers in at the middle. The widest points are the bouts. The upper bout is attached to the neck of the guitar, whereas the lower bout can be found behind the bridge, which is essentially the widest point of the guitar.

Top

Also known as the sound board, the top of the guitar holds the bridge, the saddle, and within the centre lies the sound hole. Spruce is the most common wood used for the top of a flamenco guitar.

Bridge and Saddle

The guitar's strings are attached to the bridge first, they are then given further tension and raised over the saddle. The saddle height determines the right tone for the strings, and for classical guitars the string height is higher than with flamenco guitars.

Neck and Fretboard

Set upon the neck is the fretboard. As mentioned above, the string action is lower from the bridge across the frets. This is to allow the player to play faster than his or her classical counterpart. Fretboards for flamenco guitars tend to be made from ivory.

Nut, Headstock, Tuning Posts and Machineheads

At the other end of the fretboard is the nut that was traditionally made from bone or ivory. It is more likely that you'll find a guitar with a nut made from plastic. This raises the strings up from the fretboard to the tuning posts. Six tuning posts and six machine heads are located on the guitar's headstock. As the name suggests, when each string is placed in the right tuning post, it is turned and tightened to the right note.

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Peter Shorney
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Peter Shorney writes about music, art and pop culture.

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