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Artisan flamenco guitars, a unique voice and inspiring playability
Through the work of the late 19th century Antonio Torres and major evolutions in the 20th century, today contemporary and outstanding luthiers present to us the enchanting, percussive sound of artisan flamenco guitars, their specific setup and low action, their bright, punchy, instant responding sound with wide ranging tonality, enabling different guitar techniques as well as an exciting way of guitar playing. This is why many Jazz, Latin guitarists and renowned musicians have fallen in love with the unique voices and playability of flamenco guitars.
One of a kind art, 300 hours of manual labor to make one flamenco guitar
Artisan flamenco guitar makers work on their own or with family members in a small workshop making only up to 15 guitars a year with long waiting times. For more information regarding the finest, traditionally and handcrafted guitars, we welcome you to visit our detailed guitar pages including HD videos and free lessons with tabs.
Flamenco guitar music, accompaniment for singing and dance
Flamenco guitar music started as accompaniment for singing or Cante and their relateddances.They are identified by their typical rhythms or compas, melodies, harmonies or musical keys and emotional themes. Anyone playing flamenco guitar is playing one of these specific patterns known as Palos. No matter how technically refined, flamenco music is mostly defined in terms of singing or Cante rather than of guitar technique. Flamenco music is commonly played using a cejilla, which purpose consists on changing the key of the flamenco guitar in order to suit the singer’s vocal range.
The typical techniques of the flamenco guitar music sound: In addition of the techniques common to classical guitar playing, flamenco guitar music is uniquely characterized by use of Golpes or percussive finger tapping on a tapping plate or golpeador, by picados with more attack and articulation, by rasgueados or flamenco guitar strumming, by alzapuas and different kinds of tremolos. Rasgueados can be one of the most impressive parts of flamenco guitar music. Performed by outward individual flicks of the right hand fingers and done in a huge variety of ways, rasgueados creates a nice rhythmic roll, supporting the footwork of flamenco dancers. An alzapua uses the right hand thumb for both single-lines notes and strums across a number of strings. Both techniques are combined in a quick succession to give that unique percussive flamenco guitar sound.
Harmony based on Roman numeral triads or dissonant chords with more tones: Harmony in music refers to how chords are constructed and the system by which one chord follows another chord in time. Harmony functions as an accompaniment to melody. A basic three-tone chord or triad consists of three notes: the root, the third above the root, and the fifth above the root. Chords are notated by the scale of degree of their root note. The degrees are identified by Roman numerals. The most typical chord progression of the Flamenco cadence, a sequence of four chords creating a cadencial closure; is VI,V, IV, III. When starting and ending on any note within a scale, we create different “modes” of the same scale. The three modes used in flamenco guitar music are the Ionian mode (the major scale), the Aolean mode (the natural Minor scale) and the majorized or dominant Phrygian mode. Another characteristic of flamenco guitar music is that chords progressions rarely appear as consonant triads. They are usually dissonant chords containing a minimum of four tones.
La Sonanta offers a large variety of outstanding flamenco guitars, whatever you budget may be, and all kinds of flamenco guitar strings. For those that want to learn or perform playing, we distinguish two major groups for flamenco guitar lessons.
Flamenco guitars have an overwhelming resonance, projection and a percussive, drier sound with punchy, wide-ranging tonality
The flamenco guitar made its appearance as an accompanying instrument in flamenco singing during the 19th century. The French artist Manet made in 1862, during one of his tours in the Spanish southern part Andalusia, a copper engraving entitled “Les Gitans” showing a Gypsy man carrying a guitar on his back.
At these times, Flamenco consisted only of singing and clapping. Later, during the period of café cantante or flamenco bars, 1850-1910, the need for a very specific guitar, accompanying flamenco, increased. To play along with the loud volume and often low frequencies produced by the percussive footwork of the dancers and the powerful vocals of the singers, a guitar with a strong, brilliant, somehow sharp and percussive sound was needed. In addition the guitar should respond instantly to hard rasgueados, sensitive falsetas, technically difficult tremolos and also golpes or hand taping on the sound box. Also the guitar that was needed should produce a sound matching the rawness of flamenco singing. The Spanish classical guitar concert was inappropriate for this.
It was the legendary Spanish guitar maker Antonio Torres (1817–1892) of Seville, at the end of the 19th century, that succeeded in making the guitar required to accompany flamenco singing and dance, giving the guitar its definitive form. For more information please read Jose Romanillos his wonderful book from 1997, Antonio de Torres his life and work. Most of Antonio Torres his guitars all were cheap flamenco guitars, the ones made from cypress wood instead of from the precious woods from Latin America. Local Gypsies could only afford these cheap guitars to play flamenco. In time they were adapted to small variations and eventually identified as flamenco guitars. Antonio Torres increased the body size and the width of the neck, he increased the scale length, he introduced the seven fan braces instead of three to make a thinner soundboard and improved internal bracing. His guitars were now suitable for concerts; the volume was not too weak anymore to play along with the loud percussive footwork of the dancers and the powerful vocals of the singers. Often it is thought that the flamenco guitar is to be a derivative of the classical Spanish guitar. This isincorrect since the classical guitar as well as the flamenco guitar have been developed, around the same time but separately, from their 19th century predecessors. Strangely enough, the founder of both the flamenco and classical guitar was the same luthier, Antonio de Torres from Seville. A very interesting and striking article, Cultural Origins of the Modern Guitar in the Soundboard magazine edition fall 1997, Richard Bruné stipulates that the modern flamenco guitar is closer to the 19th century guitar of Antonio Torres than the current classical guitars. In this article Richard Bruné indicates that the modern classical guitar is derived from an earlier flamenco type instrument. This guitar founding period at the end of the 19th century is also characterized by Tarrega (1852 -1909) his pioneering playing techniques used by guitarists. Today Juan Miguel Gonzalez Morales, born in Almeria January 17 1947, is the last legacy of Antonio de Torres.
In the early 20th century flamenco guitar makers such as Manuel Ramírez (1864–1916), Domingo Esteso(1882–1937) and later on Marcelo Barbero (1904 - 1956), Miguel Rodriguez (1888-1975) as well as Santos Hernandez(1873–1943) modernized the guitar by modifying design elements of bracing and dimensions. These evolutions gave the flamenco guitars an overwhelming resonance, projection and a percussive, drier sound with punchy, wide-ranging tonality making them perfect instruments for playing without amplification to accompany dance or singing performances, but even in orchestras or large concert halls. Most contemporary Spanish guitar makers build both classical and flamenco guitars, though there are some such as the Conde Hermanos in Madrid, Manuel Reyes in Cordóba, and Andres Dominguez Guerrero in Seville, who are specialized as flamenco guitar makers only.
Although the flamenco guitar originally purely had a supportive role, the flamenco guitar has enriched the musicality of flamenco significantly, immediately increasing the accessibility and impact of the flamenco art in broader segments of the public. Patiño was one of the first flamenco guitarists, formalizing various styles and leading the development of flamenco guitar music. Especially the work of flamenco guitar masters such as Ramón Montoya and Niño Ricardo, at the beginning of the 20th century, enabled the flamenco guitar to evolve beyond its role as accompaniment of singing and dance, becoming a popular solo instrument as well.
From cultures of historical empires, from la Guitarra Latina to the Spanish Guitar
It is generally assumed that the string instruments emerged about 4000 BC from the hunting bow and the sound it produces while shooting. Around 2000 BC the Babylonians frequently made such string instruments, not only in a simple harp or lyre form, but even with a solid wooden neck and a primitive sound box of stretched animal skins. Just like the bow, the strings ware made of woven plant fibres or animal materials. Other sources report the ‘tar’ as a primitive stringed instrument originating from India. ‘Tar’ means string in the Indo-Aryan language, Sanskrit. This would have led to the Indian sitar (literally ‘three strings’). Considering the size of the Babylonian-Assyrian empire, such stringed instruments were distributed over a large area. Also to the Caucasus, where the Hittites further developed the string instrument into a wooden sound box with round shape, a flat top, resonance holes and fret alike bars on the neck. Such instruments appear in rock carving in the Turkish place Alaja Hüyük. Probably the Hittites brought this string instrument to the Greeks whom called it the ‘kithara’, 'kitos’ means’ hole ’, so 'kithara’ means ‘cavity with strings’. The kithara was popular among the art loving Greeks and served as an accompanying instrument for the epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey. Next, the Romans took over the kithara of the Greeks, bringing the Roman ‘cithara’ to Europe. Already around 400 AC the Romans brought their string instruments to Hispania, currently known as Spain. During the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century AD, in Spain, the Roman cithara evolved into the three strings ‘Guitarra latina’. Next when Spain, from the 8th till the 15th century, largely became Moorish territory, the Arabic lute or ‘Al Ud’ was introduced in Spain where it developed into the ‘guitarra Morisca’ or mandore. All that time Spain had two cultures, the Christian and Moorish. As a result both 3 stringed instruments were used commonly, the guitarra latina accompanying Spanish dances and the guitarra Morisca accompanying Moorish dance and poetry.
During the fall of the Moorish Empire, the Moorish culture disappeared as well as the influence of the guitarra Morisca while the guitarra latina remained in Spain. Next important evolution was partly based upon the influence of oriental musical instruments brought home from their world travels by Spanish explorers like Marco Polo. These explorers also brought the use of the bow on string instruments from China to the West. As a consequence many artisans developed several variants such as the ‘vielle’ and the ‘vihuela’. The vihuela was also called ‘vihuela a mano’ when the string instrument was played by the hand instead of with a plectrum. The often luxurious vihuela had six double-strings made of gut and was intended for the fashionable society and aristocracy. In the 16th century, the vielle was only played with a bow, becoming the ancestor of the violin or the cello that we know today. During all this time the guitarra latina had remained and evolved into what we, later on, would call the Spanish guitar. A fifth string, a high E, was added to the guitarra latina, which made her much more easier to play than the double string Vihuela, making her rapidly and much more popular than the Vihuela.
When Spain, in the 16th century, became one of the largest and first global empires in world history, the Spanish versions of the stringed instruments or Spanish guitar spread north of the Pyrenees. Until that time, the lute was the most popular string instrument in the rest of Europe with many troubadours playing the lute, travelling as folk musicians. Because of the complicated way of playing, soon the lute was oppressed by the rise of the guitar from Spain. Lute lovers, including the religious clergy and priests, tried to give the Spanish guitars a bad name by associating them with the scandalous street fun, dances and unnecessary moral ruin. However this attempt worked counterproductive, because it stimulated the Spanish guitar to become more and more popular in the European folk music. Another important development was made in the 18th century. Due to the Renaissance period when Italy became the centre of the guitar world, this time it was not in Spain. In 1779 Gaetano Vinaccia built the earliest six string guitar in Naples, Italy. During the late 18th century, leadership in guitar developments switched to Spain.
The name “Flamenco” did not come from the Gitanos, but Spanish writings about music art, show that, at the end of the 18th century, the Gitanos were also called Flamencos. This was a result of granting citizenship to the gitanos in 1782 by Carlos III, imposing any further discrimination of gitanos based on their ethnicity and therefore forbidden to call them any longer gitanos. Nonetheless the Spaniards kept on making the distinction and used the term flamencos to appoint gitanos as a reference to their flamboyant behavior. Most likely the name Flamenco was chosen as a reference to the indecent, undisciplined Flamencos (the Flemings) from the times in 16th century when the Flemish emperor Charles (El Flamenco) ruled over Spain.
It was also the Flemish Charles, crowned as king of Spain in 1516 when the strict and severe Islamic lifestyle still existed in Granada, brought Latin singers or Cantors from Flanders to sing in the Spanish cathedrals, all intended to brighten up the sober Islamic lifestyle. These very good singers were called Flamencos (Flemish). Thus arose the link between cantor and flamenco (coming from Flanders).
From 1850 to 1920 flamenco music developed into a mature art form. As from 1843, annually Feria was organized in Seville, an ambitious annual festival in honor of life in Andalucia and flamenco music. More and more non Gitano singers, called Payo singers, discovered flamenco and soon flamenco music was appreciated by the higher society as well. In the same period, the café cantantes for the civil public opened, organizing both traditional Spanish (zarzuela) and flamenco shows.
Later on, national flamenco tours, flamenco ballet and opera flamenca and evening performances in large theaters were organized. The adaptation required by this new flamenco theatrical format also introduced the flamenco guitar as a soloist instrument instead of being submitted to the needs of the singing and dancing. This evolution in flamenco guitar playing was leaded by flamenco guitar players such as Ramón Montoya, Manolo de Huelva, Javier Molina or Sabicas. Flamenco singers became stars and gradually, Flamenco was known and appreciated worldwide. The cafe cantantes as they existed, became less and less popular. During the past decades, a number of different types of instruments used in flamenco music have increased. The percussion box or Cajón has become very popular, but the same phenomenon occurred with instruments from other musical styles such as the violin, the cello, the flute…resulting in Flamenco Chamber Music performances. Another trend is the pursuit of fusion with folk music, jazz or other musical styles such as Middle Eastern and Asian, Brazilian, pop, rock and contemporary-classical music.
Undoubtedly attributable to the Gitanos, singing as a means of empathic transfer and not as an aesthetic goal
For the Gitanos, the significance of their singing is not related to musical sophistication, but to the extent in the way the singer can strike or touch the audience. More often, this happens through a kind of primitive, rough style. Singing as a means of empathic transfer and not as an aesthetic goal in itself. Since the traditional Gypsy had no interest in writing, their songs were their only tools to orally pass on historical facts but also their personal feelings and emotions. This astonishing, invisible and immeasurable “touching” of the audience by the songs is so typical for authentic flamenco music. When that “touching” contact occurs, both the flamenco artists and audience are taken by duende, enthusiasm, indefinable charm or enchantment, keeping Flamenco alive to the present day. With these two elements, their songs and their duende, the Gitanos have created the foundation for flamenco music. While the musical aspect of flamenco was not the main concern of the Gitanos, the aesthetical qualities of flamenco music were largely contribution by the local Spanish population.
In addition the local Spanish music was influenced by maritime routes, back and forth from the southern Spanish coasts to Africa and Central America. This led to a specific repertoire within flamenco music, singing of ida y vuelta, introducing faster rhythms and cheerful tones. These three elements: the expressive power of the Gitano singing, the Moorish sonority and musicality of the various southern Spanish folk songs, were combined by the Gitanos in the mid 18th century. In the next 100 years, the Gitanos transferred all this into a personal musical language for their own use within their own family or clan. This resulted in a rich and diverse art form that we now call flamenco music. By the end of the 19th century a more or less defined form of flamenco music had been established.
The roots of flamenco music as a unique art form of personal expression, are undoubtedly attributable to the Gitanos while the musical form of flamenco evolved itself as a continuous process of interaction with influences from the outside. For that reason, the essence of the authentic flamenco music is singing. Originally dance was no more than a personal expression, evoked by the singing or the intensity of the moment. Only in the 19th century, the dance evolved into a more autonomous part of flamenco music. Flamenco guitar playing is clearly an addition from the 18th century Spanish musical culture, but the Gitanos quickly picked up the guitar and self-developed a guitar style to support the typical accompaniment of their singing. By the work of some early great flamenco guitar players like Ramon Montoya, flamenco guitar playing became rapidly very popular on a global scale. The strongest influences evident in the evolution of Flamenco music can be traced from Punjabi singing of India, Persian Zyriab song form, Mozarabic forms such as Zarchyas and Zambr, Classical Andalusian Orchestras of the Islamic Empire, Arabic Zayal which themselves are the foundation for Fandango, Andalusian regional folk and Western African influences via the slaves of the Caribbeans, Central and South American colonies.
Expressive power of Gitano singing, Moorish sonority and musicality of the various southern Spanish folk songs.
Before the arrival of the ‘Egypcianos’ or Gypsies in southern Spain, the Arabs had occupied Andalusia for almost 800 years. The Moorish influence extended far beyond Madrid and the southern Spanish cities like Granada, Seville, Cadiz, …., all being important Moorish political and cultural centers. As a result, the typical Moorish music was already in southern Spain before the arrival of the gypsies. When the Moors were expelled from Spain in 1492, large groups of Moriscos, Arabs converted to Christianity, remained behind, keeping a strong influence on the southern Spanish cultural identity. In this way a unique repertoire of all kinds of dances and folk songs in Spanish, Jewish and Moorish originated in Andalusia, long before the arrival of the Gitanos in Andalucia.
These Moorish influences are clearly identified in flamenco music by the so called “melismas’, the singing of a single syllable of text while between several different notes in succession, or the chord progressions of certain flamenco types like the malagueñas. However when large groups of gypsies established themselves permanently along the axis of Cadiz, Jerez de la Frontera and Triana, near Seville, these gypsies, blessed with a strong and exuberant sense of rhythm and expression, mixed the existing Spanish music with their own singing and unsurpassed enthusiasm, eventually leading to the rise of flamenco music. In the first two centuries of their establishment in southern Spain, the Gitanos lived isolated in rural areas and mountains. This isolation was an essential safeguard for the purity of their music and dance within family groups. From this period are dated some of their most typical vocal styles closely related to their lifestyle. Their troubled past as pilgrims wandering through many civilizations and their deep sense of life without any luxurious needs, created gypsies songs of deep, pure and profound nature. Without instruments, only accompanied by golpe (beat by hand on a table) and palmas (rhythmic hand clapping), their songs describe their history and their everyday lives based on oral inherited lyrics from generation to generation. Sometimes happy, sometimes heartbreaking tragic, and always with a remarkable intensity. That pure and untouched intensity, deepness and excitement is a vital contribution of the gypsies to flamenco music as we know it today.
In 1782, the Spanish king Charles III granted civil rights to the Gitanos in exchange for the surrender of their vagabond existence. As a consequence, the gitanos began to settle in the cities, mostly in gitanerias or gypsy ghettos. Since the gypsies were skilled craftsmen, many blacksmiths, their trade contacts with the local population also enabled cultural exchange, allowing a blend between the gypsy singing and the local Spanish music, resulting in a period of great exploration and evolution within flamenco music as an art form.
The origin of flamenco music cannot be traced back to a specific time, moment or place. Flamenco music is an ongoing evolution influenced by a variety of musical cultures, with roots going back to ancient times. Writers of the early imperial period such as Martial (40-104 BC) already described the dancing girls of Cadiz, in southern Spain, as a well known attraction during these times. Martial speaks of slave dancing girls skilled at performing wanton gestures to Baetican castanets and dancing to Cadiz tunes.
Between 800 and 900 A.D., a large exodus of people occurred from the Sindh, Rajasthan and Punjab regions of the West Indian region. These people are believed to be members of the Chandalas, the lowest class of labor workers within the ancient Indian caste system. Being considered as contagious, treated as less than human beings, they were excluded from the main society, suffered from social segregation, restrictions and extreme poverty. The exodus from India likely took place in the context of the raids by Mahmud of Ghazni, the ruler of the Persian Ghaznavid dynasty. Once linguistic and genetic evidence indicated that the Romanies, also referred to as Gypsies, originated from the Indian subcontinent; these nomadic groups, migrating from India, were considered to be the Romani or Gypsies. As pilgrims they migrated to Iran about 1100 AD where they divided into two major migratory routes, travelling by horses and other animals while dancing and playing music.
One major migration route led them North through Armenia to Byzantium into the European continent, explaining traces of Greco-Byzantium vocabulary in their language. The Romani from this first migration route, going North, were again divided into Romas, with historical concentrations in the Balkans, and Sintis, with settlements in Central Europe. The second major migration route went West through the Middle East and Syria, clarifying the presence of Arabic vocabulary, into “Egipto Menor” or the Peloponnese region where they stayed for a long time. When a large group of pilgrims from this second major migration route finally arrived in southern Spain in the 15th century via the Strait of Gibraltar, as described in a document by King Alfonso The Magnanimous in 1425, they called themselves, as a reference to their origin of Egipto Menor, “Egypcianos’. The current Spanish name "Gitanos”, as we call the gypsies of southern Spain today, is derived from this term “Egypcianos’. The ones from the second major migration route, going West, are generally known as “Kale” or black. An important historical record, the Rumelia Tax Register of 1522-1523, solely dealt with the gypsies, entitled as “Comprehensive roll of the income and taxation of the Gypsies of the province of Rumelia. This register clearly describes many of the occupations of the gypsies. There were so many musicians that they made up entire tax communities.
Spanish way, growing up surrrounded with flamenco, learning from childhood to absorb flamenco
Musicians growing up in a musical Spanish environment learn from childhood on to feel flamenco music. Being very young they are surrounded with plenty of flamenco music all day long, feeling the compass and rhythmic patterns, hearing the typical flamenco voicings. Like Paco de Lucia said ‘When it was time for me to play bulerias, I already knew how to play them because I had heard the rhythm since I was born’. At a very young age they begin to develop a kind of emotional learning. These surroundings enable them to learn flamenco guitar from generation to generation by listening, looking, repeating, imitating and playing. In Spain this is a successful and effective way of taking flamenco guitar lessons since the local students are growing up with the fundamentals of flamenco music. Traditionally Flamenco teachers and students in Spain rarely use books or tabs in their lessons, mostly they don’t speak the technical language of music theory. However they can feel the sound of their guitar and strings, and play all functions, through very hard work, by memorization, by non stop practicing…all driven by their musical talents and complete, everlasting dedication. Traditionally musical sophistication is not the essence, the extent in the way flamenco musicians can strike or touch the audience is what counts. Today Flamenco isn’t just about cante, dance and guitar playing anymore. By merging with other musical styles and involving a wide range of instruments, flamenco guitarists are studying music theory as an essential part in their flamenco guitar training.
In 1862 Antonio Torres (1817-1892) built a guitar with back and sides of papier-mâché, this guitar resides now in the Museu de la Musica in Barcelona. With this experiment Antonio Torres clearly proved that it was the top, and not the back and sides of the guitar that gave the flamenco guitar its responsiveness, its sustain and quality of each individual note.
Specifically for the spruce top tight-grained woods are required to have a lot of little cross silk grain patterns. These little grains, crossing the vertical long grains, are making some kind of bridges between the long vertical grains enabling the wood to respond in all its registers. Spruce is the most common used wood for making flamenco guitar tops. The best quality spruce is German spruce coming from the forests in Switzerland, Italy, Germany and the former Yugoslavia. German Spruce is quite stiff along and across the grains. Its high stiffness in combination with its light weight characteristics, create a high transmission of vibrational energy, making German spruce an excellent choice for the top of flamenco guitar. German spruce has the characteristics of a powerful, direct tone that keeps its clarity when playing strong rasgueados and alzapuas. Engelmann spruce from North America is less stiff resulting in a slightly lower velocity of sound and mainly used for steel string guitars because of its specific ability to absorb the harmonics of steel strings.
When German spruce became very expensive and hard to find, Jose Ramirez III (1922-1995) was the first luthier that introduced red cedar as a successful alternative for German Spruce. Due to the tight grain patterns, tonal responsiveness and stability of cedar, many famous luthiers started making guitars with cedar tops. The velocity of sound of cedar is higher compared to German spruce, cedar also has a higher overtone, but a lower fundamental tone. Spruce projects a brilliant, clear, strongly focused tone. From the first moment you play a flamenco guitar with a cedar top, you will feel the fuller, darker, more wooden, somehow sweeter, but less separated tone. However, this enchanting sound and responsiveness of Cedar does not improve with age. Spruce, on the contrary, opens up by age becoming increasingly responsive and mellow. Since cedar has a lower stiffness along the grain and spruce has the tendency to absorb humidity easily, it is very important that spruce is well-aged and properly dried until it can be used to make a flamenco guitar.
Old aged, premium master grade woods for flamenco guitars
Besides the flamenco guitar maker his skills, his devotion and the design of his flamenco guitars, the quality of each individual piece of wood is very important to make an excellent flamenco guitar. Classical and flamenco guitar makers consider their stock of solid, old woods as their personal treasure. Solid woods used to make a premium flamenco guitar have aged at least 25 years in humidity controlled workshops, providing the special sound, guaranteeing stability and avoiding warped guitar necks or cracks for many years to come. And even, after all this time of drying and aging, still some of the initially, very carefully selected solid woods can have concealed defects, making them unusable for premium flamenco guitars. The relative humidity in the workshop of most flamenco guitar maker varies between 50 and 55% since classical and flamenco guitars lose their brightness above 70% and below 40% the risks of cracks are high.Due to the reduced availability of woods cut from old forests, a large number of different woods are used for flamenco guitars. No two pieces of wood are exactly the same since the age of the tree, the annular growth patterns and the grain orientation vary a lot. Guitar woods can also reflect different characteristics when used in different guitar models. In addition, solid tonewoods will also respond differently by the design of the soundboard or in the hands of another flamenco guitar maker. In other words, there are much more differences in sound between flamenco guitar makers all using the same solid woods than between different woods used by one single flamenco guitar luthier. The tone quality of flamenco guitar woods depends on how they are cut, dried, and aged. In order to determine if a wood is an excellent wood for a flamenco guitar, luthiers have to evaluate all those criteria as well as density, transmission of vibrational energy, harmonic qualities and aesthetics. A fast transmission of sound waves is an important requirement for a good flamenco guitar wood. Since sound travels along the long grains any deviation from straight grains reduces its strength. Therefore grains should be totally straight with each grain parallel to the others. Specifically spruce soundboard woods required a lot of little cross silk grain patterns. Try to consider those little grains crossing the vertical long grains making some kind of bridges between the long vertical grains enabling the wood to respond in all its registers. To determine if the aged woods are premium quality, luthiers hold the wood with two fingers in the left corner at ¾ of the vertical height. This usually is the spot projecting a clear sound. Next they tap the wood on several locations to identify clarity of tone and overtones.