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  1. #1

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    Cutaways have been a non-no for a long time in classical circles. For the past several years I have been using my cutaway for guest spots with a local symphony, and right now I'm using it with a chamber group - 2 violins, cello, guitar. Not once has anyone ever said anything about the shape of my guitar or the cutaway. Nobody even seems to notice. Is it only guitarists who are "luddites" about cutaways? But I haven't actually played with other classical guitarists for years now. Has that attitude changed?

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  3. #2

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    I have never heard a cg with a cutaway have the body or projection of a traditional cg. Perhaps they have improved since I last heard them?

    I doubt other instrumentalists will have any clue about the guitar. When was the last time you bitched at the oboe player at what reed he used? I know I do it all the time!!!

  4. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by vintagelove View Post
    I have never heard a cg with a cutaway have the body or projection of a traditional cg. Perhaps they have improved since I last heard them?

    I doubt other instrumentalists will have any clue about the guitar. When was the last time you bitched at the oboe player at what reed he used? I know I do it all the time!!!
    Well now, a guitar cutaway/shape is a lot more obvious to people (large and visible up-front) than a reed type (very tiny and half in the mouth).

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound View Post
    Well now, a guitar cutaway/shape is a lot more obvious to people (large and visible up-front) than a reed type (very tiny and half in the mouth).
    True, but the point was oboe players know as much about guitars as I know about oboe reeds. I see the joke didn't fare so well.....

  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by vintagelove View Post
    True, but the point was oboe players know as much about guitars as I know about oboe reeds. I see the joke didn't fare so well.....
    Sorry..

  7. #6

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    Well if I was a high level professional classical guitar player, I would use a professional quality classical guitar, and yeah those don't come with cut-aways. But when I play at the local restaurants I use my $300 cut-away, and *gasp* I even use the built in piezo pickup, and *gasp* I even use a guitar amplifier. If I hired John Williams or Manuel Barrueco to play one of my private parties, and they showed up with a cut-away, I'd keep my mouth shut. But yeah, in general I think high level professional classical guitar players should use normal, high quality, non-cutaway classical guitars. But for most of us, it doesn't matter. When they start paying me $2000 a gig, I'll upgrade to a professional level guitar and mic set up. But till then they get the $300 blue-light special.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Guitarzen View Post
    When they start paying me $2000 a gig, I'll upgrade to a professional level guitar and mic set up. But till then they get the $300 blue-light special.
    I wonder how many people here are old enough to have shopped in a certain store known to offer a "blue-light special"... Johnny Carson used to joke about them.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    I wonder how many people here are old enough to have shopped in a certain store known to offer a "blue-light special"... Johnny Carson used to joke about them.
    Yup. And we still have some in my area.

  10. #9

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    cutaways? no, elevated fretboards.

    a cutaway makes the guitar body smaller, and modern players are looking for more volume, not less. and for more volume we have double-tops.


    the Humphrey Millenium was/is a good example of an early 21rst century classical guitar. Gregory Byers' and Jim Redgate's instruments are too.

    so, cutaways becoming "acceptable" in the classical guitar world? no, not really. or perhaps it's better to say, not really in demand.


    Classic Guitars International for fine classical and flamenco guitars, Chris Kamen

  11. #10

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    Volume isn't necessarily based on size, or guitars would be much bigger than they are. There is a real mix of opinions on this, some builders don't think that the cutaway portion really has much to do with the actual sound anyway, since it doesn't vibrate much.The lack of cutaways may well be a result of the tradition of conservatism among classical musicians. There are several makers that sell to the jazz and world music communities that make very powerful and rich-sounding cutaway classicals. It's like playing while standing: a good idea, but "shocking".

  12. #11

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    I own a Buscarino Grand Cabaret and two traditional classicals.

    The Cabaret is admittedly for "finger style jazz" and works for Bossa etc. It's not quiet by any stretch but doesn't sound the same as the two traditional guitars. It has a "faster" neck and is easier to play. The nut width and string spacing are a smidge narrower than a classical, and that's noticeable when you need to play with some gusto on arpeggios in the right hand. It sounds great when I plug it in to my acoustic amp, so there's the other side of the volume story.

    And it's a keeper. But when I'm playing the old stuff, I play the other guitars.
    Last edited by fumblefingers; 08-21-2015 at 04:54 PM.

  13. #12

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    I tried to sell a Yamaha (electro) Classical guitar through a well known classical forum and it was removed because it wasn't deemed a real classical guitar. The specs were totally classical and it had a cutaway. I sold it elsewhere and within months I regretted it so I bought one back it was so good.

    I have a really expensive hand made 'proper' classical guitar but to be honest I hardly play it now because my view on guitars has changed. In fact, I happen to feel that if more top classical players were to embrace the outstanding audio quality that can be achieved using pickups, amps and effects the genre might see something of a paradigm shift and a whole new audience.

  14. #13

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    It's funny that you say that because I always crank up the volume when listening to my classical guitar CDs. I'm a baby boomer so loud is what I know.

    i guess the pros don't like the sound that comes out of the pickup/amp. The issue is live performance only though, per the aforementioned stereo volume control.

  15. #14

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    Yes I totally agree that the classical players, and not just the pros, don't like the the sound of pickups and amps and effects. I can't really blame them because the essence of classical playing is nuanced pure tone from whatever guitar is being played. That said, I think that those brave enough to work with amplification and effects would find themselves with a whole new set of skills and a whole new audience.

    There is a player called Pat Coldrick who uses a Takamine and a couple of AER amps plus reverb and a hint of delay. I have it on good authority that his live sound is amazing. Moreover, he fills his venues and that can't be a bad thing.

  16. #15

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    I once asked a music teacher at secondary school about playing electric and acoustic instruments together. To him it was a no-no, and he told me so, citing the differences in sound quality, etc, as the reason.

    Of course, he happened to be a flautist; James Galway in his Menuhin Music Guide book on the flute mentions an embarrassing and amusing incident where he was willing to play an avant garde electro-acoustic piece with a tape recorder and the tape set-up got stuffed up in the meantime. And I hear on the local classical radio station all sorts of intriguing things about electro-acoustic classical music.

    So it's not that it's theoretically impossible, or even technically difficult. It's just that some classical guitarists are stick-in-the-muds and inflexible, and don't want to consider other possibilities.

    It's not worth arguing with them. They'll be less of them and more of the adventurous sort as time goes by.

  17. #16

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    well, if there are electric instruments playing you really can't hear the acoustic sound as well - especially if we're talking about live performance. it kind of defeats the purpose. a grand piano is one exception - but only to a point.

    if you really want the ears soak up ALL the acoustic sound, you need silence.

  18. #17

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    I heard Eliot Fisk playing the Concierto de Aranjuez the other week, and he was miked. The effect was a) that you could hear him all the way to the back of the hall and b) that the guitar was too loud in some passages. It's a trade-off...

    Now Rodrigo knew how to write for unamped guitar and orchestra and to exploit the dynamics. Musically speaking, the guitar should not have been miked. But then, I wouldn't have been able to hear the guitar on my cheap seat. Which would you prefer?

    I have played in churches without amplification, with mics and with an amp, on various occasions. A solo situation is of course quite different from working with an orchestra. Right now, I'm under the impression that with an amp I can control sound and dynamics better that in any other situation. (In fact, I played some Taylor classicals with cutaway and pickup at the shop the other day - I've half a mind to get myself one.) I also find that the moment you plug in, you have a whole system to control that consists of guitar, amp, and possibly effects. That's different from playing "just" guitar, and demands a different technique. Who is to blame those poor conservatory-trained guys for not having learned this?


    Quote Originally Posted by fumblefingers View Post
    if you really want the ears soak up ALL the acoustic sound, you need silence.
    True for an all-acoustic setting, too.

  19. #18

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    well, you could always blame it on Segovia? i agree conservatories need to do a better job at some realistic job scenario training.

    i heard Fisk at the 92nd Street Y with a number of other guitarists a few years ago, it was a Segovia tribute and I think Parkening organized it. Whatever.

    the point is, Fisk played last and we could hear him in the back of the hall as well. it was a very distinct difference from every other player that preceded him. i cant remember if they were mic'd?/miked? or not, but i believe everybody did the same thing. I'm not a big fan of his but I'll say this, Fisk knows how to project (he may have had a double top too, so there is that).

  20. #19

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    I think we're getting away from the original topic (my fault, too) so to get back to the cutaway:

    I tried a Taylor nylonstring with cutaway in regard to Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Sonatina Canonica, which has a lot going on above the 12th fret. I almost bought it, it facilitated playing so much. I couldn't do an A/B-Test with my regular CG, though. Would have been interesting to compare the two for tone, volume, and projection. (Oh yes, the Taylor has a pickup, too ;-)

    And then there are Guitarras Calliope. Boy, they are LOUD. They are also capable of a good classical tone. With that body size, the cutaway matters not. If I get a new nylonstring, it's going to be one of these, I fear.