Extended Range Classical Guitars

Discussion in 'Jazz, Acoustic, Classical & Fingerstyle' started by 6or7mattersnot, Mar 24, 2016.

  1. 6or7mattersnot

    6or7mattersnot Hey guys look! Text!

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    Hi there, I'm a classical guitar student who mainly plays on a standard classical guitar, but I do have a 7 string electric guitar that is my main electric instrument, and I was wondering how different a classical guitar with an extended range, specifically a seventh or eighth string, is from your traditional classical guitar. Is it a simple adjustment period like it is with the 7 string or 8 string electric guitar? Or is the additional range something that completely changes how you play the instrument as per left hand and/or right hand technique?
     
  2. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    Hi,
    I am no classical guitarist, but I do own a multiscale 8 string Bartolex classical and an 11 string alto by Milagro, along with many various electric guitars and basses with up to 9 strings. More of a typical acoustic / jazz approach.
    I would say that yes, it's just simply adding extra strings.
    Typically, the classical extended range guitars are different to electrics in that they are not tuned in 4ths. Basses might look like CDEADGBE for example.
    In that case, even less of an adjustment I suppose as you are not playing them with your fretting hand.
    I prefer to treat them like normal though and tune them in 4ths on my 8 string, which is in 8 string standard tuning.
    The 11 string alto is a different beast, because it has reverse frets at the nut (google 11 string alto) to increase the scale, making it so that the 4 bass strings are very much only to be played open (as on the fretboard, the notes all line up). It's tuned GABC-DGCFADG. So really like a 7 string, with some open basses. The thing I noticed most on this guitar is the different stretch you must have in your right hand to reach the trebles and open basses at the same time. But on the 8 string, just normal adjustment like an electric to me :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2016
  3. tedtan

    tedtan SS.org Regular

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    Check with Given to Fly; he's the resident expert. If he doesn't come along soon, shoot him a PM.
     
  4. Given To Fly

    Given To Fly Contributor

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    :cheers: I won't lie, that felt good to read!

    Where are you studying guitar? What year are you in school?

    Ok, I could talk for hours about this topic so to preserve everyone's sanity I'll be as straightforward as possible. Also, I am the only person I know that has ever done what I did so I have no idea if my experience is what everyone should expect.

    First, your background sounds exactly like my background: traditional classical guitar, 7 string electric guitar. This is important to know.

    When I switched over to playing a 7 string classical guitar it took about 3 months to bring all my repertoire up to "performance level." My biggest challenge was retraining my R.H. thumb (P) to know "there is another bass string below the low E." I wrote it like that because that is how I thought about it.

    To answer your last question, my experience playing a 7 string classical guitar has been "the additional range completely changed how I played the instrument." The weird part is everything regarding technique is the same. The challenge is mentally accounting for the additional string. None of my peers could play my guitar and I could not play their guitars. The only person who ever managed to pick up my guitar and play something decent was David Russell and he only did it once. I mentioned this to him and he said he had to "completely ignore the 7th string, pretend it wasn't there," in order to do it. To make things weirder, I can switch between 6/7/8 string electric guitars with no problem. I've seen guitarists play 11 string alto guitars and 6 string classical guitars in the same concert with no problem. Everybody I have met, myself included, has had a problem switching between a 6 string classical guitar and a 7 string classical guitar and vice versa. I'm positive it has nothing to do with your fingers though; it has everything to do with your brain. :coffee:
     
  5. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    ^ Interesting post. Would you say it's different for experienced classical guitarists? Or that comments about the brain struggling in general, would apply to electric guitar as well? I suppose that would help to tell. If you are the kind of person that can juggle all kinds of electric guitars, then probably it wouldn't be any different for classical? Or is that not the case? It was like that for me, but like I said, I am not a classical guitarist - I just like nylon strings.
     
  6. Given To Fly

    Given To Fly Contributor

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    Good questions. This is my first attempt at trying to explain my thoughts on the matter so bear with me:

    Classical guitarists basically spend the majority of their time playing music which was composed by someone else. In process of the learning this music your brain has to account for everything written on the page and how to transfer it onto the instrument you are playing. When the instrument changes in a significant way, you have to alter your muscle memory in an equally significant way which is a hard thing to do. However, if you change instruments, your brain recognizes the difference and treats them as two separate things. For some reason, this seems to be easier to deal with. I do not know where the brain draws the line on whether or not the "instrument changed" or the person "changed instruments" though.

    I do not think it matters whether you are playing an electric guitar or a classical guitar. I think what your brain is doing while you are playing either instrument matters a lot.

    I'll be thinking about these things...:scratch::nuts::idea:
     
  7. 6or7mattersnot

    6or7mattersnot Hey guys look! Text!

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    Wow, that's a pretty fantastic response. I guess to start off with I'm a second year student at my local community college, so basically a sophmore in college, working toward a composition degree for classical guitar here in California. I'm going to be transferring to one of the California State Universities, probably Northridge, but I'm looking at CSU Fullerton and CSU Long Beach as well.

    The reason for my asking about this is my teacher will every now and again tell me how I'll need to get a better guitar than the one I currently have, and ever since I had seen extended range classical guitars I've been very interested in playing one, to the point where I've seriously considered trying to get one as an upgrade to my current guitar, a Takamine C132S. Do you use your extended range classical instruments as your primary instruments or do you stick to a more traditional six-stringed classical instrument and have a few pieces in your repertoire that utilize the extended range of the instrument?

    It's interesting that you say that the techniques are all the same and that it still completely changed how you play the instrument. I don't know for certain if it's anything like getting used to a seven string electric guitar, but it took me maybe a couple weeks to actually get used to the fact that I had that extra range, and maybe another couple of weeks to actually figure out how to more effectively use it beyond the generic power chord cliche. Is it really just as simple as that? Getting your mind used to the fact that you actually have that extra range and knowing when and where to use it?
     
  8. Given To Fly

    Given To Fly Contributor

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  9. Stan P

    Stan P SS.org Regular

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    Sorry , are we talking Russian 7, Brazilian or Jazz 7 (standard + bass)?
     
  10. Given To Fly

    Given To Fly Contributor

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    Not quite. The Russian 7 string is very different. 7 string guitars used in Brazilian music and Jazz are very similar. What we are talking about is music composed by J.S. Bach, Isaac Albaniz, Elliott Carter, to name a few, played on a classical guitar with 7 strings.
     
  11. Stan P

    Stan P SS.org Regular

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    How is it to be tuned? BTW Russian 7 has an extended classical method written for it
     
  12. Dyingsea

    Dyingsea SS.org Regular

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    In the traditional classical sense the 8/10 string guitars are mostly there to play the bass strings open. Alto style guitars have an even greater range and are sometimes tuned more like a lute/guitar hybrid especially for playing pieces by composers like Weiss.

    My 8 string I had was tuned high to low EBGDAEDA since there are so many Dm and Am pieces especially in the baroque realm where low tunings are especially utilized.
     
  13. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Traditional Russian tuning is DGBDGBD (an open D chord), so it's the same 2 octave range of open strings as a standard western six string tuning.

    As far as switching from classical 6 string to a western classical 7 string, I agree that it's more of an adjustment than switching electrics. Keep in mind that classical techniques are far more rigid. In some ways this makes switching easier in the long run, but it takes more adjustment early on

    Interesting tuning. Some players took a different approach to ERCG in the 70s and 80s, by adding a thinner string for a high A4. This allowed guitar and lute tunings to overlap (Lute being typically ADGBEA). In the 90s, the resurgence of 7 strings in rock led to ERCGs tuned with a low A1: AEADGBE. It'd follow to tune an 8 string ERCG AEADGBEA, if not for mechanical limitations. Your tuning is like the 90s tuning but with an intermediate D, if I am correctly assuming the D is a whole step below the E.
     
  14. Given To Fly

    Given To Fly Contributor

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    Yes. You will find more 8 string classical guitars than 7 string classical guitars for the reason you mentioned: tuning flexibility for music of the Baroque.
     
  15. Stan P

    Stan P SS.org Regular

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    I did not know these were very common!
     
  16. Given To Fly

    Given To Fly Contributor

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    They aren't very common. For every 100 concert classical guitars there might be six 8 strings and one 7 string, and I'm exaggerating the 7/8 string guitar numbers.

    The 10 string classical guitar is probably the most common because there is modern repertoire written for it and Narciso Yepes, a relatively famous classical guitarist, played one.
     
  17. Stan P

    Stan P SS.org Regular

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    Yes! I did listen to his recordings .
     
  18. Given To Fly

    Given To Fly Contributor

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    Oh Good! The piece that is most performed/studied for 10 string guitar is Si le jour paraît... - Maurice Ohana.
     
  19. Given To Fly

    Given To Fly Contributor

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    With in the field of music my area of interest/expertise/lifelong learning is contemporary music. This website might be the greatest resource on the planet for that particular area:
    Sheer Pluck - Database of Contemporary Guitar Music
    Its kept up to date and I have been rather remiss for not sharing it with you. If ever need help finding a score, I can help. It may be in Japanese, but the notes are all the same. :coffee:
     
  20. vansinn

    vansinn ShredNeck into Beck

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    Very interesting thread.
    I started off with classical guitar, though didn't complete studies due to the always ignited rocket in the pocket ;)

    As such, I play the classical guitar much because I love the tone and feel of it.
    I do not have a 7/8 string classical, but last year came across an 11 stringer made here in DK, and simply couldn't work out how to even play the ordinary top 6 strings - just like Fly referred.

    Now, first time I tried a seven string electric, I of course banged into that damned annoying extra B string ;)
    Short time after, behold, the shop had taken home two 8-stringers, By now, it weasn't much of a deal for me.
    Back home, I now started to reach for the non-existent 7th string on my six'ers.

    A Bit later, having bought my Riot 8, I found myself unable to make any good use of the 8-stringer, no matter how I tuned it or for which music.
    All those fourth steps, and then this annoying illogical M3 step in-between.
    Didn't matter where I placed the M3 step: 3rd to 2nd or 4th to 3rd.
    However, it all changed when retuning it to TrueFourth.

    I can now switch between a sixer in standard, in drop-D, an 8-stringer in TrueFourth, and the classical with no problems. (classical guitar in drop-D is fun too)
    So, my conceptual idea is that it's more a matter of which kind of instrument I will need for playing which type of music, than being about how many strings it might have.

    I think this relates nicely to Given to Fly's comments; that is, it's mostly a matter of brain waves.

    As fun: Would you play ska reggae on Neil Peart's kit? Play ragtime on a Bösendörfer flügel?
     

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