Flamenco guitar

Flamenco guitar

A flamenco guitar is a type of classical guitar, built for the purpose of playing Flamenco music.

Flamenco guitar can also refer to toque, the guitar-playing part of the art of Flamenco. Both uses are documented on this page.


The traditional flamenco guitar is made of Spanish cypress and spruce, which accounts for its characteristic body color, and is lighter in weight and a bit smaller than a classical guitar, to give the sound a "brighter" and percussive quality. Volume has traditionally been very important in flamenco construction, as guitarists needed to be heard over the sound of the dancers' nailed shoes. The flamenco guitar, in contrast to the classical, is often equipped with a tap plate called golpeador, commonly made of transparent plastic, similar to a pick guard, whose function is to protect the body of the guitar from the rhythmic finger taps, or golpes. Originally, flamenco guitars were made with wooden tuning pegs similar to a violin. Some guitarists still prefer these pegs to the classical style modern tuning gears. It is widely accepted that more weight in the headstock can improve sustain; unsurprisingly, less weight can result in quicker attack, a desirable quality in a flamenco guitar. This could explain why many flamenco players still favor the traditional pegs. The "action" or the height of the strings above the fingerboard is generally lower (<3mm at the 12th fret) than that of a classical guitar. This aids faster playing, especially during fast picado passages, but can lead to some fret buzz-also a frequent feature of the traditional 'flamenco' sound. Also, the lower string height greatly helps reduce fatigue of the left hand over lengthy performances.

In short, flamenco guitars are better suited for flamenco music than classical guitars. Some modern flamenco guitars (flamenca negra), however, use similar materials to high-end classical guitars. These guitars hope to capture some of the sustain achieved by concert calibre classical guitars while retaining the volume and attack associated with flamenco.


Flamenco is a genuine Spanish artform. It exists in three forms:
* "Cante": the song (this is the heart of flamenco)
* "Baile": the dance
* "Toque": guitar playing

Strictly, flamenco guitar is an accompaniment to singing and dancing in the traditional Flamenco forms. Those in English-speaking countries outside the Flamenco community often use it to mean vaguely Spanish-sounding guitar playing which utilises some of the techniques listed below, especially rasgueado. To gain some understanding of the stricter definition of flamenco, read the main article.


Flamenco is played somewhat differently from the classical guitar, utilizing different strumming patterns and techniques. Flamenco is commonly played using a cejilla (capo) which somewhat causes the guitar to sound more brilliant and percussive. However, the main purpose in using a cejilla is to change the key of the guitar in order to suit the singer's vocal range.

In addition to the techniques common to classical guitar, flamenco guitar technique is uniquely characterised by the following:
* Golpe: Percussive finger tapping on the soundboard at the area above or below the strings. This requires a golpeador (tap-plate) in order to protect the surface of the guitar.
* Picado: Single-line scale passages performed apoyando but with more attack and articulation.
* Rasgueado: Strumming done with outward flicks of the right hand fingers, done in a huge variety of ways. A nice rhythmic roll is obtained, supposedly reminiscent of the bailador's (flamenco dancer) feet and the roll of castanets.
* [http://www.ctv.es/USERS/norman/pmiexc.htm Alzapua] : A thumb technique which has roots in oud plectrum technique. The right hand thumb is used for both single-line notes and strummed across a number of strings. Both are combined in quick succession to give it a unique sound.
* Tremolo: Done somewhat differently from the conventional classical guitar tremolo, it is very commonly played with the right hand pattern p-i-a-m-i.

ee also

* List of guitarists by genre#Flamenco
**José Ramírez
**Domingo Esteso (1882-1937)
**Conde Hermanos

External links

* Tutorials
** [http://miguelbengoa.com Flamenco and flamenco guitar discovery site]
** [http://www.flamenco-lessons.com Online Flamenco Guitar Lesson Video and Tablature Library]
** [http://www.newlearningvision.com Online flamenco guitar lessons in the form of streaming video]
** [http://members.aol.com/BuleriaChk/private/compas/guitar1/guitar1.htm Introduction to Flamenco]

* Community
** [http://www.foroflamenco.com Brilliant flamenco forum]
** [http://www.falseta.com/ Flamenco Community]
* Other
** [http://www.guitarist.com/fg/fg.htm Flamenco Guitarist] at Guitarist.com; includes [http://www.guitarist.com/flamenco/flamenco-faq-for-classical-guitarists.htm Flamenco FAQ For Classical Guitarists]
** [http://www.graf-martinez.com/flamenco-guitar.html All about the instrument (no shop)]
** [http://flamencoguitarshop.co.uk/resources.html Flamenco Guitar Resources]
** [http://emedia.leeward.hawaii.edu/frary/glossary.htm Guitarists Glossary]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • flamenco — n. 1. a strongly rhythmic and vigorous style of dancing characteristic of the Andalusian gypsies, characterized by clapping and stamping of feet. Syn: gypsy dancing. [WordNet 1.5] 2. (Mus.) a strongly rhythmic style of music originating in… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • flamenco — /flah meng koh, fleuh /, n., pl. flamencos, adj. n. 1. a style of dancing, characteristic of the Andalusian Gypsies, that is strongly rhythmic and involves vigorous actions, as clapping the hands and stamping the feet. 2. a style of instrumental… …   Universalium

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