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Tag: classical guitar

Classical Guitars – Style And Design

by on May.12, 2009, under General, Guitar Talk

Classical guitars are the predecessors to all modern guitars, including basses, acoustics, and electrics. These original guitars are directly descended from the baroque guitar which was found in Spain, with modifications adapted from the early renaissance models. Today, classical guitars are used to play classical music written specifically with the guitar in mind, as well as in different varieties of folk music.


In addition to classic music, the classical guitar is also widely used in two specific types of folk music:

    Celtic Music The guitars are used to add flavor to the other stringed instruments typical in celtic folk music, such as the fiddle and the stand up bass. Celtic music has also incorporated the previously little used strumming patterns on the classical.
    Spanish Music Perhaps the culture best known for their use of the classical guitar in their music are the Spanish. The classical guitar in the hands of a Spanish master gives off a sound like no other, and needs little in the way of accompaniment. It is virtually impossible to find a popular classical guitar player who does not include several dozen songs of Spanish origin in his or her repertoire.


There are several different design variations in classical guitars when compared with acoustic guitars.

    The tuning pegs of the classic instrument are turned backwards.
    The body is made entirely of wood. Acoustics generally have a truss rod made of metal running through the neck. The classical guitar strings do not put the tension on the neck that steel strings of an acoustic will, so this part is generally not included.
    No inlays on the fretboard.
    Classical guitars are slightly wider at the nut than their acoustic and electric counterparts.

Style of Play

Another important difference in the guitar used to play classic music is the ways in which it is played.

    There is a specific posture recommended for classical guitar players. The guitar should be held at a 45 degree angle, with the curve resting on the left knee. The right leg is extended, or used to brace the bottom of the guitar.
    No type of pick or other plectrum is used to pluck the strings. Instead, the fingers are used to pluck the strings to produce a polyphonic sound.
    Strumming is rare in classical guitar playing, but when it is used it is done as a special effect.

And the most important difference….

The most important difference between this instrument and other types of guitar are the strings. Classical guitar strings are made of nylon (they used to be made of ox gut). The three treble strings are made purely of nylon, while the three bass strings are made of a steel wire wrapped with nylon. This string makeup produces the unique sound of classical guitars as well as accounting for the differences in makeup noted above. Nylon strings are also easier to break, which is why strumming is rarely used.

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