The difference between classical and flamenco guitar, is not only about their measurements. The distance from 1st to 6th strings is a good example, in classical guitars it is common 57mm or 58mm, but in flamenco you need to play rasgueos, alzapuas etc, so you will need a wider range of string space to perform properly all this flamenco techniques. This is just one aspect, but there are several.
The height of the bridge (from the strings to the top of the guitar) in a flamenco guitar is around 4 or 5mm making a big contrast when compared to classical guitar bridges.
Here are couple of videos that will be useful to measure the bridge of your guitar
The action of the flamenco guitar is completely different too as you can appreciate on the following pictures:
The True Secret:
Then why is it that no two flamenco guitars sound the same…? even if made by the same person at the same time, with same materials etc, it is not possible to build two guitars exactly equal in sound nor in touch or “pulsacion” and therefore, it remains a mystery the distinguishable cause as to why one guitar out of other 10 guitars “sisters” all with the same characteristics and measurements and made by the same person, with the very same hand work process and materials etc, and still…. one guitar is born superior (subjectively or objectively) to another.
In the following video you can hear how a couple of “twin” guitars have very different sound traits although they are so called “identical guitars” http://youtu.be/sGcYTFy2Vfo
Many things count about nuances in sound, as an example by using specific kind of left hand nuts we can get diversity in tone, to get an idea about it watch the following video http://youtu.be/z4KaF3UtkBk
Even the way you put your strings on, including which pegs you use may influence the sound, example: strung 4th string on the 6th peg, and 4th string on the peg correspondent to the 6th string, to get an idea about this improved way to strung please watch the following videos:
Other interesting factor is the effect that a 12 orifice bridges can have on sound, mainly because of the way the string is tied up, example:
Nonetheless for the guitar maker to have complete control over the exact outcome or, about how the guitar will be like once it is made, is just not possible, just like no body knows how a person will exactly behave after his birth, no one knows how a guitar will exactly sound or feel before its completion. Some times luthiers purposefully intend to make a guitar with, for example more trebles than bases, or they try to make a female in nature guitar, and the result is just the opposite, why is that…?
Well first of all: The real value of the wood resides in its being aged before the guitar is made. (hence fresh wood has no quality)
Then we also discard considering the type of wood for the back and sides of the guitar as a prominent factor in the outcome regarding quality of sound, based on Antonio Torres who proved (by making a guitar with a proper top but which sides and back were made out of paper instead of any kind of wood) the paramount importance of the top over the often over-emphasized selected materials (kind of woods) with which the back and sides of a guitar are made.
In other words: The top is the heart and soul of the guitar. Therefore provided the top is created with knowledge, art, and properness, then the guitar will be great regardless of the kind of wood of which the back and sides are made, in fact this concern is unimportant or at least, not essential.
The conclusion is: That ultimately the important thing is not with which wood the body of the guitar is made, nor even the kind of wood for the top matters, but rather is how the top is created.
The very essence of a guitar, that is what defines its birth and span of life, is something that too many new luthiers overview due to the so called “evident” nature of the subject. Big mistake… I am talking about the order in which the bracings or “abanicos” are glued and settled to begin with.
For example if there are 5 “abanicos” and one under bridge or “bajo puente” (like in some distinctive Marcelo Barbero models) in which specific order should they have to be settled (viz. starting from the bases side, or from the treble side of the top…?, and in which exact order they should be glued for example: 12345 or 54321 or, any other of the many possibilities in this equation, and when exactly the under bridge is placed and how) all of those aspects represent the “seed stage” of a guitar, its genetic code… hence that order of the “abanicos” itself defines the pulsation, tone, quality and even tension that the guitar will have, its playability, not to mention the balance or lack of it that the guitar will have between the bases and the treble range.
It is interesting to notice that this specific topic is not an easy subject to know about, only great luthiers who have worked and learned for many years from other great masters themselves know about it. Hence this feature constitutes the very essence or basic principle on which quality will exist or not on in a flamenco guitar. This secret password for the order of the setting of the “abanicos” (viz. perhaps it could be 14532, or
31542 if male nature is desired…and so forth to many other plausible variations) some great luthiers tend to be must secretive about, as it is the essential key factor, it is not necessary to mention that the passwords are not explained or given in any available book or text about guitar making nowadays, master luthiers only disclose this knowledge to their deserved successors at appropriate times.
An interesting example is that Marcelo Barbero junior (the son of Marcelo Barbero, who recently passed away) studied under Arcangel Fernandez and not directly with his own father, therefore Barbero (father) himself gave that password to Arcangel Fernandez and Arcangel gave it to the son of Marcelo Barbero.
On the other hand I would like to elaborate on another aspect for flamenco guitars. In my experience (of course I mean exclusively in actual first class and appropriately aged tops) new guitars with German spruce top starts at their 70% of capacity, and will go up for a very long time, always ascending their beauty in tone for even 70 or 80 years on and on, while tops of red cedar wood starts their life at 96% of their potential, and do not change much with time.
In other words a first class guitar with a German spruce top will sound much better 5 or 10 years after it is made, while the red cedar one will remain equal from the beginning to the end. This aspect of being “mature” from their very birth, can be attributed to the fact that red cedar tops have more carbon on it.
Anyway flamenco guitars with both kinds of tops have their unique particularities each one of them, and they are complementary to each other in recordings and otherwise as far as sound nuances and range of harmonics is concerned.
Here are some examples of bracing patterns of contemporary flamenco guitars
The bridge of this flamenco guitar http://www.andalusianguitars.com/enshdoblehoyo-undianuno1-foto7.html & http://www.andalusianguitars.com/esMB1948JacarandaRosewood-foto13.html is dynamically extra flat and resonates very differently when compared to the conventional bridge of a classical guitar.
And the last word in flamenco guitars evolution: The “doble boca” or sound portal
The sound portal * the other whole or “doble boca” is an innovation as well as a extra asset in recording as far as flamenco guitars and sound is concerned .
The purpose of sound portal is to get diverse nuances in the tone and sound “color” of the guitar while playing live or/and in the recording process as well, it gives a different kind of presence, besides the fact that in the studio you can record with two microphones one on each orifice and get two varieties of sound waves, is more powerful in volume for the player as well as for the hearer than any traditional one *(I mean the guitars without sound portal) it is very rewarding and warmth.
Here are some examples of it:
As rhythmic guitars
Recorded with a simple average camera (for a guitar lesson)
playing it with 2 microphones for live performances
or just playing outdoors
As you can see Flamenco guitar and Classical guitar are of another nature all together...
And what to speak of the difference of the tone…the pick guard or golpeador etc.
Here is another differentiating factor: the male guitars were introduce by Paco de Lucia in the 70s ,you can get an idea by watching the following videos:
Although for classical guitars the tuning of the top is also there, in flamenco that plays a very important role to be regarded if you want to interpret with richness in nuances of harmonics range.
Here are three videos to illustrate that:
To grasp general concepts about the inclusion of the male guitar to flamenco interpreting and on the recording process as well I suggest to take a look to the following text:
I say often the analogy of trying to use roller skates for going to the ice skating rink… that’s, really speaking, very similar to what happens when one tries to play Flamenco on a Classical guitar.