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  1. #1

    Bossa Nova guitar recommendations

    I'm looking to get a new classical guitar and would like some advice. I've been playing guitar for 10 years and recently started playing bossa nova on my steel string acoustic. I'd like to upgrade to a quality classical guitar.

    I was originally considering the cordoba c9 but realised I wanted spruce instead of cedar after watching videos and listening to the sound. I've also been looking at more vintage guitars like the di giorgio and giannini models that were played by bossa nova "pioneers". This is intriguing to me because I know these guitars have the exact sound I'm looking for.

    Is it worthwhile to buy an older vintage guitar on reverb or ebay, or should I play it safe and buy a newer cordoba c9 or something similar?

  2. # ADS
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  3. #2
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    As fascinating as the DiGiorgios are, and believe me I have been nearly seduced many times, they are a crapshoot. They are old, variable in quality, often priced unrealistically by overly optimistic sellers, and may require work to be playable.

    That said, I still want one. The Tarrega, Autor #3, and Classico #28 models are sought after. I would avoid Giannini though. Just not the same mystique as DiGiorgio, and fewer models qualify as excellent.

    For another suggestion beyond the ubiquitous Cordoba lineup, take a look at the Kenny Hill Player series guitars, which are lovely solid wood. They are available in several scale lengths, with cedar or spruce tops: Kenny Hill Player Series Classical Guitars - Savage Classical Guitar
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  4. #3
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    Charlie Byrd played a Ramirez Segovia model for most of his bossa nova solos and Laurindo Almeida played a Manzanero for most of his so those are some other guitars you could also consider for that classic bossa nova sound.

    I would recommend that you never buy a guitar unless you play it first because I have found that the same model will often vary from one guitar to the next - sometimes a lot. Try to play as many different guitars as you can get your hands on - you'll know when you find the right one.

    Hope this helps!
    Steven Herron
    Learn To Play Chord Melody Guitar

  5. #4
    I know this is nontraditional but I recommend to take a look at the Godin Grand Concert Duet Ambiance.
    -----------------------------------

    "The instrument keeps me humble. Sometimes I pick it up and it seems to say, "No, you can't play today." I keep at it anyway, though." Jim Hall

  6. #5
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    If you really want to delve into bossa playing, get a 7-string, Giannini makes several models, and Godin makes a Multiac nylon 7 that has a great pickup system and plays very easily. For 6-strings, Cordoba and Rodriguez make good ones with pickups for reasonable money.

  7. #6
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    I have a 650mm Kenny Hill Player with a cedar top and a Godin Grand Concert Duet Ambiance. I also have a circa 1970 Giannini Craviola. The latter is a vintage Brazilian guitar, easy to play with a slightly narrower neck, but definitely quieter and a bit bassy due to its laminate construction.

    I prefer the Kenny Hill as it's a proper classical guitar, suitable for bossa and just about anything in the classical repertoire that I might attempt to play. It has a far richer sound. The Godin is very popular among jazz/bossa players. Both of these have an adjustable truss rod which I highly recommend. Playability beats tradition every time!
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  8. #7
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    Here's a quick demo video of how the Godin sounds. (Obviously there are many other examples of this guitar online.)

    This was recorded through a Quilter 101 Reverb into a Redstone cabinet, line out plus mic'd cab, and a live condenser mic picking up a little bit of acoustic sound. In other words, a pretty good representation of how it sounds to the player.



    This one has no live room mic, just the mic'd cabinet and line out:

    Last edited by rpguitar; 02-16-2018 at 10:09 AM.
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  9. #8
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    Nice playing and sound from the Godins! Of course I could not resist checking out the linked L-5 vids, "April Kisses" and "Improv in Progress." Awesome! Mad props, RP!
    Best regards, k

  10. #9
    If you are going to gig with it nothing beats the practicality of the Godins really. But they have no acoustic sound of course. Consider what you want out of the neck and action of a classical guitar before commiting. A wider, flat fingerboard with high action works great for classical music, but for jazz and bossa i personally find a hybrid neck (wide on the bridge, slimmer on the nut) with a bit of a curve much more comfortable for all the chordal work, the arpeggio and scalar playing etc.. Has a lot to do with whether you are coming from classical guitars or steel strings i guess. Also a truss rod is so useful if you really want low action, makes things so much easier and predictable. It is rather unusual of course on most classicals.

  11. #10
    Right on RP! Your demo displays how much fun it is to simply play chordal rhythms of bossa nova songs. Your rhythm was spot on as well. That Godin sounds fabulous. More like this!
    John Coltrane has been sort of a god to me. Seems like, he didn't get the inspiration out of other musicians. He had it. - Wes Montgomery

  12. #11
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    Thanks Greg! I guess my rhythm is pretty good except for truncating one measure near the end of the first verse of Wave! D'oh. Not sure what I was thinking there.

    Playing bossa nova is a lot of fun, no doubt. The chord shapes and voice leading in these songs are wonderful.

    But anyway, the Grand Concert model does have acoustic sound. It's thin and quiet compared to a full-on acoustic classical, but it definitely lets you sit around and play. Some of the other Multiac models have poor to no acoustic sound, being essentially solid bodies, but the Grand Concert is Godin's attempt at a quasi-proper electric classical. So it has the full size nut and neck dimensions that one would expect, and a usable acoustic tone for practicing.
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  13. #12
    thank you all for your comments!

  14. #13
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    Interesting thread, I was just thinking of going in this direction myself as I already have a good jazz guitar in my 70s Ibanez, so why try to duplicate that. I love bossa nova music and I used to own a Godin and was pleased with it, but sold it many years ago for want of another guitar I am sure...or a steel guitar ! At any rate, just today I was doing research on the Godin ACS SA slim and think I will try out the slim version...would probably be more to my liking altho I do like width of my Gretsch CG but again, its probably not as wide as most classical guitars, but it is a good width for fingerstyle, ala Chet Atkins. A classical guitar that I purchased back in the 60s was a Gibson, which had a really thin neck that I liked...I dont recall the model number for it, but compared to most classicals, I found it very comfortable to play. Again, sold it for another purchase. You can find them on ebay at a reasonable price.

  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcpicker47 View Post
    Interesting thread, I was just thinking of going in this direction myself as I already have a good jazz guitar in my 70s Ibanez, so why try to duplicate that. I love bossa nova music and I used to own a Godin and was pleased with it, but sold it many years ago for want of another guitar I am sure...or a steel guitar ! At any rate, just today I was doing research on the Godin ACS SA slim and think I will try out the slim version...would probably be more to my liking altho I do like width of my Gretsch CG but again, its probably not as wide as most classical guitars, but it is a good width for fingerstyle, ala Chet Atkins. A classical guitar that I purchased back in the 60s was a Gibson, which had a really thin neck that I liked...I dont recall the model number for it, but compared to most classicals, I found it very comfortable to play. Again, sold it for another purchase. You can find them on ebay at a reasonable price.
    Larry, try the Cordoba line. I had a GK Studio that was a great guitar and not overly expensive - I think I gave $600 out the door for mine at GC. If I get another one, I think the 'Pro' version, 'negra' is the way to go. The electronics are decent. The Godins are nice guitars but, personally, I would go with the full width neck.

  16. #15
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    Don't buy a DiGiorgio or a Giannini. It'a a myth that they are good. Unless you find a Giannini C7 which used to be made by Sérgio Abreu who is one of the greatest luthiers in Brazil today and that has been making guitars only by demand. Buy a spruce top and be happy.
    If you don't like the learning process you probably know less than you could.
    Learning Brazilian Guitar

  17. #16
    Sergio and Eduardo Abreu used to play as an excellent classical guitar duo in the 1970s but gave up performing I believe. I have a couple of great records by them. Sergio then became a guitar maker. Some people have all the talent!

  18. #17
    I bought used, both a Cordoba 10 and an even better classical in an Alhambra 9p, all hand made in Spain, the finest bossa nova style guitar I've owned. Here's a stepped down version of that 9p but still a steal of a deal so far at $700...a no brainer.

    Alhambra 6p concert classical guitar | eBay
    John Coltrane has been sort of a god to me. Seems like, he didn't get the inspiration out of other musicians. He had it. - Wes Montgomery

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    +1 Godin Multiac Nylon, can't go wrong...

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  21. #20
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    Anyone have any experience with the Cervantes crossover model? I've seen some good reviews and there's one for sale on the forum.

  22. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpguitar View Post
    As fascinating as the DiGiorgios are, and believe me I have been nearly seduced many times, they are a crapshoot. They are old, variable in quality, often priced unrealistically by overly optimistic sellers, and may require work to be playable.

    That said, I still want one. The Tarrega, Autor #3, and Classico #28 models are sought after.
    I thought I'd follow up on my own post since I finally took a chance on a 1975 Di Giorgio Autor 3, signed by Reinaldo Di Giorgio. Prior to this, I spent a whole week during my beach vacation on YouTube listening to Baden Powell and countless others playing Brazilian music on old Di Giorgios. A vintage example from the 60s or 70s is rare in the USA, especially one without cracks or other flaws. And well under $2k to boot. With a 7 day return policy, I had to give it a shot.

    Unfortunately, despite its look on paper, the guitar was a disappointment. The tone is warm, sure, but it lacks the bell-like trebles of the best examples I've heard on record. Perhaps by the mid 70s, the lightweight construction of the earlier decade was a thing of the past. The guitar I bought has a solid spruce top and laminate jacaranda back and sides, which is pretty standard for these. It has very deep rims - close to 50% deeper than my other classicals - which clearly influences the bass response. But it mostly sounds muffled, not rich.

    My example also had probably spent years in an environment with low humidity, because there is too much relief in the neck. That is fixable only with fingerboard planing and a clever re-fret, which I would possibly invest in if the guitar was otherwise stunning. But that is not the case. Oh well.
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