What Is Flamenco Guitar?

Learn what flamenco guitar is in this Howcast video.


Hi, I'm Dan Garcia and we're going to talk about flamenco guitar. The first thing we need to know is what is really a flamenco guitar or is there such a thing as a flamenco guitar. Yes, there is. The first thing we need to distinguish is a nylon-string guitar from a steel-string guitar. Okay, to the eye and if you're a beginner they might seem very similar, but they're very different in the sound and to the feel of your hands.

Okay, a steel-stringed guitar like the name says has steel strings and a nylon-stringed guitar has nylon strings. The shape of the guitars are a little different, too. A steel-stringed guitar usually has a thinner neck and a bit longer neck and a nylon-stringed guitar's neck is a little thicker and the body meets the neck on the twelfth fret. On a steel-stringed guitar the body meets the neck on the fourteenth fret. You could also tell the difference here.

A nylon-stringed guitar always has these kind of holes in the tuning pegs and a steel-stringed guitar usually has a solid piece. So a flamenco guitar is a nylon-stringed guitar not a steel-stringed guitar. Okay, if you have a steel-stringed guitar and you want to play flamenco, there's no rule that says you can't but it's not going sound very flamenco-ish. The question is can you switch the strings and have the guitars sound alike? Not really, you can do it physically, but the sound is not going to be ideal.

You put nylon strings on a steel-stringed guitar, the tension becomes very lousy and your sound is going to become very dull. So a flamenco guitar is a nylon-stringed guitar, not a steel-stringed guitar. Also a classical guitar is a nylon-stringed guitar, so what's the difference between a classical guitar and a flamenco guitar? Flamenco guitar usually has the action a little lower than a classical guitar. The action of a guitar is the distance between the strings and the fret board.

The distance is greater, the sound becomes a little broader, but it's a little harder to play, too. Flamenco guitars keep their action pretty low to get more of a percussive and poignant sound as opposed to classical guitars, you want sound to be a little more open. Okay, so therefore the action is a little higher on that guitar.

Also, the big difference is the flamenco guitars have protection panels, plastic so when you do certain techniques like the golpe technique that we'll visit in some of the videos, your wood is protected. Okay, you will be hitting your guitar and we will be hitting it hard, so if you don't have protection on your guitar you'll make a hole right through it. So if you intend to play flamenco guitar you need to go and get a protection.

There are some thin layers of plastic that you can put on classical guitars so you don't scratch it, but those don't work. Believe me, you'll still make a hole through your guitar. So make sure you have a thick plastic and they have to put it on professionally in a store for you or you just buy a guitar that has the plastic already on it, because you will be hitting your guitar pretty hard over there and you want to protect your guitar.

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