Differences between a classical guitar and a flamenco guitar

Jul 20, 2022

Differences between a classical guitar and a flamenco guitar

Cristina Ramírez explains, in the video below, the differences between a classical guitar and a flamenco guitar. Both are Spanish guitars, but the fundamental difference can be found both in the woods and in the construction.

What are the differences between a classical guitar and a flamenco guitar?

Until the end of the 19th century, there was not such a difference. It is true that flamenco guitars used to be a little smaller, but it is from Antonio Torres onwards that the foundations of the modern guitar were laid.

José Ramírez I revolutionised the world of the flamenco guitar with his Tablao model because flamenco guitarists asked him for a guitar with more projection. At that time, café cantantes and tablaos were beginning to appear and they needed a guitar that could stand out in a flamenco group.

That same guitar was taken by his brother, Manuel Ramírez, and transformed into what we now know as the flamenco guitar.

Differences between a classical and a flamenco guitar set-up

The set-up of each of the guitars is completely different because we are looking for different ways of playing.

The classical guitar set-up has a greater angle and the flamenco guitar has a right angle because the classical guitar is looking for more oscillation of the string, more depth and projection.

While the flamenco guitar looks for the strings to be very close to the fretboard, more comfort when playing, faster scales and slurs. A more percussive sound is also sought.

Differences in the head tilt between classical and flamenco guitars

In the case of our classical guitar, the head inclination is straighter. In the case of the flamenco guitar, it is more inclined. This is the tilt that has been used in our artisan guitars in general for many years.

In the 1950s, José Ramírez III, what he did was to make the angle of the head more straight so that there would not be so much tension and the string would be freer and more flexible. There is not so much tension in terms of the angle that is formed from the head capo and goes directly to the roller of the pegbox.

Furthermore, in the case of the classical guitar, José Ramírez III created the guitar with a 664 mm. action, which José Ramírez IV later adapted to a 650 mm. action.

Woods used in classical and flamenco guitars

Normally spruce and cypress are used for flamenco guitars. Classical guitars usually use spruce, cedar and rosewood.

In the case of the classical guitar that Cristina Ramírez shows us in the video, it is a Rio rosewood guitar, which has more than 60 years of natural healing.

It is also true that with the new techniques and, above all, with the rapprochement of flamenco guitarists and classical guitarists, different effects have been sought after with the guitar.

For example, the black flamenco guitar uses woods that are traditionally used for classical guitars, i.e. rosewoods. The sound that the rosewood will give in the flamenco model will be a deeper one. Normally, it is usually used for solo guitars.

Then there were guitarists, first Serranito and later Manolo Sanlúcar, who were looking for even more projection, so they began to use our flamenco classical guitar. That is to say, with a flamenco guitar arrangement.

Differences in box width

The classical guitar is wider than the flamenco guitar and, in our case, the varetaje is different. This is because in flamenco guitars what we try to look for is a more percussive and brilliant sound.

On classical guitars, however, we are looking for more projection and volume.

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