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Online Guide Classical Guitars
Defining Features

 

The more familiar steel-strung acoustic guitar is essentially derived from the classical guitar, so let’s take a look at the main differences between the two designs:


Strings

The
KeyAn additional input on a dynamics processor such as a compressor or noise gate, enabling the dynamics of one signal to control the level of another. This can be used for many functions, including ducking (compressing a music signal when a DJ or announcer speaks), synchronised gating, and (in conjunction with an equaliser) de-essing.
key
difference is of course the type of strings used. The main ingredient in classical guitar strings was originally animal gut, but is now nylon. The upper strings are made from single strands of circular-section nylon, while the
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
strings have a core of fine nylon strands with a soft copper alloy winding. Nylon strings have a much warmer sound than steel strings, even when played with a plectrum. Most classical guitar music consists of single notes and arpeggios – if strummed, the strings do not blend together as well as steel strings, so in classical guitar music, strumming is usually used as a particularly forceful effect rather than a standard ingredient.


Headstock

Headstock

The classical guitar features a ‘slotted’
HeadstockThe part of a guitar or other fretted instrument to which the strings are attached by means of tuning pegs.
headstock
. The machine heads have rollers which pass through the slots in the
HeadstockThe part of a guitar or other fretted instrument to which the strings are attached by means of tuning pegs.
headstock
, rather than protruding at right angles as on most acoustic guitars. This design is also seen on some steel-strung acoustics, particularly small-bodied and the more ornate ‘parlour’ guitars.


Neck/Fretboard

The classical guitar neck is approximately a centimetre wider than that of most steel-strung acoustic or electric guitars, and does not taper from bottom to top. The
FingerboardThe part of a stringed instrument against which the strings are pressed when playing. Usually called the fretboard on fretted instruments.
fretboard
is always completely
Flat ResponseTerm which refers to equipment that does not colour the frequency spectrum of a signal passed through it.
flat
. Classical guitars do not have a ‘truss rod’ - this was invented specifically for extra strength against the pull of steel strings. For this reason, steel strings should never be fitted to a classical instrument, as serious and usually irreparable damage will result.

Classical guitars rarely have
FretA narrow metal strip on the neck of a guitar or other fretted instrument, against which the string is pressed to produce a precisely tuned note.
fret
markers on the face of the
FingerboardThe part of a stringed instrument against which the strings are pressed when playing. Usually called the fretboard on fretted instruments.
fretboard
, but sometimes have dot markers on the side facing the player.


Body

Steel-strung guitars vary greatly in shape, but classical guitars are more standardised. The
VASTVariable Architecture Synthesis Technology: the technology behind Kurzweil's 'K' series samplers, which applied the principles of modular synthesis to digital sample manipulation.
vast
majority of classical guitars are practically identical in size and shape, though a few luthiers produce slightly larger models. The instrument as a whole is generally rather lighter, as in addition to lacking a
TrussA metal frame used to suspend lighting fixtures such as spotlights.
truss
rod, the body also has less reinforcement.

The classical
BridgeThe part of a guitar where the strings are fastened to the body. Vibrations from the strings are transmitted through the bridge to the body or soundboard of the guitar. 'Bridge' is also the name for a transitional piece of music connecting two parts of a song.
bridge
is a rather simple device compared with other guitars. Classical strings do not have ball/bullet ends and are simply tied to the
BridgeThe part of a guitar where the strings are fastened to the body. Vibrations from the strings are transmitted through the bridge to the body or soundboard of the guitar. 'Bridge' is also the name for a transitional piece of music connecting two parts of a song.
bridge
. The
BridgeThe part of a guitar where the strings are fastened to the body. Vibrations from the strings are transmitted through the bridge to the body or soundboard of the guitar. 'Bridge' is also the name for a transitional piece of music connecting two parts of a song.
bridge
SaddleA component of a guitar bridge. The saddle is the point which defines the end of the string's vibrating length. Acoustic guitars usually incorporate a single saddle made of a thin plastic or bone ridge; electric guitars often have a separate metal saddle for each string, so that intonation and action may be adjusted independently.
saddle
is a straight piece of bone or plastic, without the
IntonationTo generate data between given points. Interpolation usually refers to various mathematical methods of generating or regenerating missing audio or video data as part of an error-correction or decompression algorithm.
intonation
adjustment found on other guitars. Classical guitars usually have imperfect upper
FingerboardThe part of a stringed instrument against which the strings are pressed when playing. Usually called the fretboard on fretted instruments.
fretboard
IntonationTo generate data between given points. Interpolation usually refers to various mathematical methods of generating or regenerating missing audio or video data as part of an error-correction or decompression algorithm.
intonation
, though this is not generally considered a problem, as in another
KeyAn additional input on a dynamics processor such as a compressor or noise gate, enabling the dynamics of one signal to control the level of another. This can be used for many functions, including ducking (compressing a music signal when a DJ or announcer speaks), synchronised gating, and (in conjunction with an equaliser) de-essing.
key
difference, the neck meets the body at the twelfth
FretA narrow metal strip on the neck of a guitar or other fretted instrument, against which the string is pressed to produce a precisely tuned note.
fret
and is hard to access above this point.


Posture & Technique

Classical guitar teaching emphasises strict technique. Players play sitting down with the left foot on a footstool and the guitar resting on the left leg. The left thumb should not stray above a notional centre-line along the neck. In contrast, many rock players wrap the thumb around the neck to
DampTo reduce vibrations - in music this usually refers to the technique of reducing an instrument's vibrations and overtones by touching it in some way, to shorten the length of the note and deaden the timbre of the sound. For example, a percussionist may place the palm of his hand on the skin of a kettle drum, or a guitarist might use the wrist of his plectrum hand to rest against the strings. Also used to describe the effects of acoustic treatment.
mute
the lower strings, and sometimes even to
FretA narrow metal strip on the neck of a guitar or other fretted instrument, against which the string is pressed to produce a precisely tuned note.
fret
notes.

Classical left hand

Rock left hand

Classical left handRock left hand

 

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Contents:

[Contents] [The Classical Guitar] [Defining Features] [Stylistic Considerations] [Woods] [Tips for Beginners] [Variants] [Hotdeals] [Conclusion and Feedback]