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  1. #1

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    Any thoughts on nylon string guitars for classical and jazz. I've played the same guitar for years but would definitely like to upgrade. I've played a Koumaraska(old La Patrie) for many years.

    A friend recommended a Cordoba C12. I don't mid opening a little cash for the right guitar although I don't know if I want a great deal for a guitar imported from China.

    Also wondering if I should look into some other styles, crossovers and such. Maybe even a Godin. I tend to like low action and normal tension.
    Last edited by DS71; 11-07-2018 at 12:46 AM.

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  3. #2

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    Personally, I've always liked flamenco guitars for playing classical and jazz on.

    I use a Manuel Contreras flamenco guitar and it just has a lighter, faster feel to it than most classical guitars.

  4. #3

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    Most classical guitars are built to be played fingerstyle and with higher action than that suitable for jazz. So I would consider a crossover model, for action, truss rod and fingerboard dimensions reasons, although it limits choices. I would only consider godins for playing on gigs, as they are excellent for that, but have no acoustic sound. On flamenco guitars I miss the bass response, plus I prefer the lighter touch response of classicals (unless playing flamenco of course ). Be careful of buying used, as classical guitars are more prone to develop problems over time than acoustics or electrics. On the other hand, if you are able to spot problems, they can be found at great prices.

  5. #4

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    If you're using an amp I think there's plenty of options. I know a guy who has a Cordoba C5-CE, he lowered the action akin to a flamenco, it plays and it sounds wonderful. Not too expensive either, used I've seen them go for around $200.

  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Alter
    Most classical guitars are built to be played fingerstyle and with higher action than that suitable for jazz. So I would consider a crossover model, for action, truss rod and fingerboard dimensions reasons, although it limits choices. I would only consider godins for playing on gigs, as they are excellent for that, but have no acoustic sound. On flamenco guitars I miss the bass response, plus I prefer the lighter touch response of classicals (unless playing flamenco of course ). Be careful of buying used, as classical guitars are more prone to develop problems over time than acoustics or electrics. On the other hand, if you are able to spot problems, they can be found at great prices.

    I teach at a shop that sells Godins and could get a pretty decent deal. But I don't ;like the way they play usually. I think I'd want the model with the wider neck and classical spacing. I'd probably just need to throw some normal tension strings and a set up, it would probably play great. But I think I'd probably be happier in the long run with a full on classical or crossover(haven't played many to be honest).

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by DS71
    I teach at a shop that sells Godins and could get a pretty decent deal. But I don't ;like the way they play usually.
    I hate them. Not only when I am playing them but whenever I hear them.

    If you don't have tone on a nylon string then you won't develop any on a Godin. Everyone sounds the same, ie they make your performance opaque. Great news if you can't play, awful news for the audience and anyone with a well developed right hand.

    Get a good teacher to find the best instrument in the shop for you at your price range. If you want to amplify it then the Audio Technica Pro 70 gives a clean signal which actually sounds like a guitar (not a super tweaked guitar like instrument with constant volume like all the cutaway with preamp nonsense I have heard). I've gigged with it and it blends with steel strings for duo playing without losing the identity of the performers.

    I don't find cutaways helpful and I don't understand why anyone has a problem with a wide neck (learn to warm up). The little preamps with compression sound nothing like an actual guitar.

    Be wary of 'shopping around' online, you will probably get it into your head that you know what instrument 'suits you' when you actually just want the BEST instrument that suits your budget. You won't know what that is till you hear it expertly played. I have gotten tired of pupils buying instruments that are flawed and sound no better than one's in the shop at a quarter of the price because they fell in love with some nonsense advertising online.

    D.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by DS71
    I teach at a shop that sells Godins and could get a pretty decent deal. But I don't ;like the way they play usually. I think I'd want the model with the wider neck and classical spacing. I'd probably just need to throw some normal tension strings and a set up, it would probably play great. But I think I'd probably be happier in the long run with a full on classical or crossover(haven't played many to be honest).
    They make Godins with the classical width neck.

  9. #8

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    After years of playing classical necks I can do it, but it does feel like a chore. I just think they are not the most efficient necks for things like jazz block chords and arpeggio runs, etc. Also setup is a matter of technique besides taste too, if you use apoyando or other classical techniques you do need a bit of a higher action. I have seen and played quite a few high end classicals, they are usually setup in a way that an electric player might find a bit uncomfortable, but their excellent responsiveness makes up for it. Kind of like archtops and heavy strings, you can set them up with 10s but that's not what the instrument was tailored for.

    Perhaps flamenco guitars are popular cause they do play well with lower, even buzzing action, and are also very tolerant with overplaying, meaning hitting the strings a bit harder than optimal (which is easy to do coming from steel strings). I know both of these were and still are things I enjoy about flamenco guitars.

    I think nylon string guitars are very subjective for lack of a better word, and there are a lot of different sound and setup styles. Like acoustics, you might pickup a $$$$$ one and it doesn't say anything to you, might pick up another one and that's it. So try around, buy the best you can afford.

  10. #9

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    I make a nylon string arch top. It is primarily intended as a acoustic jazz instrument, but I have had classical players play it and like it. I even have a Tele style guitar I made for myself with a 2” nut. Point being that the “crossover” world is highly varied. My philosophy is to find what is comfortable to play, regardless of what the orthodoxy is.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Freel
    Get a good teacher to find the best instrument in the shop for you at your price range.

    D.
    That teacher would be me.

    Unfortunately, this particular shop has lots of high end steel string acoustics but very little as far as Nylon strings. The only reason I brought Godin up is because it's a brand they do sell. I see a lot of jazz player playing them and figured maybe with the right strings and setup they might play nice. but again, I wasn't digging them.

    I do like the wider neck and string spacing for classical.
    Just looking too upgrade. I'd like to get a keeper. A real nice one to play for years. I've had my present classical for over 30(since I was 15).

    I have a feeling I'd quickly have buyers remorse, and wish I'd bought a real classical.

  12. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    They make Godins with the classical width neck.
    yep, knew that. That would be a must I believe. The other ones were too narrow.

    I'd be willing to try a hybrid with a slightly smaller neck and a fret radius. But still fairly close in width and feel.

    So far the Cordoba's are looking like a reasonable option. Wondering if there are some better options + or - $$$.

  13. #12

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    Classical guitars work for jazz. Consider Charlie Byrd, Gene Bertoncini, et al. Nate Najar is another player who uses a nylon-string classical.

  14. #13

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    The Godin line is great, especially given the pricing. The RMC pickup system is the best made of its type, with plenty of EQ and the least piezo sound of all. their Multiac models have classical width fingerboards, but with a slight crown, making them easier to handle for jazz styles, and, coupled with the right amp, they sound great. I have several high-end luthier-made classical and flamenco guitars, I love them, but they will never be able to be heard in a quintet setting with horns and a singer with the ease the Godin provides. As far as playability, they demand a good left-hand and right-hand technique. But check out Sylvain Luc's many youtube videos to hear what can be done with the Godin. His sound is spectacular, and he has no trouble getting around. I play a Multiac nylon 7-string, and I use it on 95% of my gigs. I put an RMC system in one of my flamenco guitars, and it works great for solo or moderate-volume gigs. For the loud gigs, it's always Godin.

  15. #14

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    I get the feeling lots of guys got free Godin's and rigs and gigged with them. I have no evidence for that other than the fact that a guitar with zero acoustic properties and none of the richness of a real electric got a lot of exposure in the hands of people who must have known how dreadful they were.

    A £200 Yamaha, that hasn't been dropped, has more responsiveness than a Godin nylon string.

    There are better guitars available for £200 than the yamaha.

    D.

  16. #15

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    So, freel, you "get the feeling" without any actual facts or proof. For your information (factual), the Godin guitars have acoustic properties, in fact, Nelson Veras has recorded several CDs with his Multiac using, of all things, a microphone in front of it! As far as richness goes, I get an amazing amount of positive feedback on the sound of my Multiac Nylon 7-string from good musicians who either perform with me or are in the audience.They remark on the clarity and RICHNESS of the sound, and how much it sounds like a real classical guitar. This has been going on for years, now, and I am a trained classical guitarist with hundreds of concerts in my career on great classical guitars, as well as several CDs out over the years, and I find the Godin guitar to be a really useful jazz and ensemble instrument, and far from dreadful. Of course, I know how to play and make a good sound, which is where it all starts. Also, FYI, most of the Godin endorsees were already playing Godin instruments when the company signed them. Now none of that means that you should like them, but all of it means that many full-time professional touring players like them very much. And a Yamaha is also a perfectly good instrument in the right hands.

    Perhaps you should be practicing instead of displaying your biases.

  17. #16

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    Nah, I'm finding myself too tired to practice these days.

    Typing is easier, which is a problem.

    This was the last time I did for a day, no doubt some new strings would have helped but I am trying to stick to my rule of no new strings till there is a gig to justify them.



    D.

  18. #17

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    If I was looking for a nylon string I would consider what I was planning on playing and in what context. I had a Frameworks which was a great instrument with the RMC setup but ultimately I got fed up always having to play it amplified ( if you dont like the Godin acoustic tone unplugged try a Frameworks lol) plus it always sounded like an amplified nylon string guitar rather than an amplified acoustic nylon string guitar and so I sold it. I like the nuance of a nylon string acoustic instrument and am drawn to playing music on one that I don't care to play on a flatwound string acoustic archtop ( my 1951 Gibson Super 300) . Stuff like -

    Very Early - Bill Evans
    Beneath an Evening Sky- Ralph Towner
    Goodbye Pork Pie Hat - Mingus

    My current favorite jazz nylon string is this one - just refretted, new bone nut, ebony and bone compensated saddle , action is 2.5 - 2 mm low E to high. 630 mm scale and 2" at the nut. My luthier set it up with jazz style playing in mind. The thing plays buttery smooth and with carbon trebles and nylgut basses it sounds acoustically delicious to my novice ears and projects a very versatile voice . No doubt a classical guitar player would bemoan the waste of good strings ). I'm thinking of putting in a Miniflex for those moments of weakness when I feel the need for amplification.

    Classical style guitar for classical and jazz......-espana-jpg

    Will
    Last edited by WillMbCdn5; 08-27-2018 at 08:32 PM.

  19. #18

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    Cool guitar, Will! The string choice sounds appropriate for jazz playing, the scale length is like an ES-175. Check out the Kremona pickup, cheap and easy to use, would work well on that instrument.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by WillMbCdn5
    (snip)
    My current favorite jazz nylon string is this one - just refretted, new bone nut, ebony and bone compensated saddle , action is 2.5 - 2 mm low E to high. 630 mm scale and 2" at the nut. My luthier set it up with jazz style playing in mind. The thing plays buttery smooth and with carbon trebles and nylgut basses it sounds acoustically delicious to my novice ears and projects a very versatile voice . No doubt a classical guitar player would bemoan the waste of good strings ). I'm thinking of putting in a Miniflex for those moments of weakness when I feel the need for amplification.

    Classical style guitar for classical and jazz......-espana-jpg

    Will
    Wow, at first I thought that was a harp guitar but upon looking closer it is just a 6-string with a weird appendage and sound port! Never saw anything like it before. Can you tell me (us) anything more about that interesting design? Doesn't it interfere with your left hand at the lower frets?

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by zdub
    Wow, at first I thought that was a harp guitar but upon looking closer it is just a 6-string with a weird appendage and sound port! Never saw anything like it before. Can you tell me (us) anything more about that interesting design? Doesn't it interfere with your left hand at the lower frets?
    The design is from one Knutsen patented in 1896 who later evolved the design into the harp guitars you were thinking of. He also made mandolins in the same design.

    Knutsen 1896 Patent Harp Guitar HGP30

    The "arm" thins down and the whole thing is remarkably comfortable to play. The arm and soundhole seems to create the sensation of more sustain and dynamic range. Covering it up deadens the tone noticeably.
    Classical style guitar for classical and jazz......-espana2-jpg



    Will
    Last edited by WillMbCdn5; 08-28-2018 at 06:47 PM.

  22. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    Classical guitars work for jazz. Consider Charlie Byrd, Gene Bertoncini, et al. Nate Najar is another player who uses a nylon-string classical.
    Definitely aware of that and my gut says spend some money on a great classical. Lenny and Charlie were on my mind as I was thinking about this. And like I said I have been using my older cheaper classical for some jazz stuff.

  23. #22

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    I can't advise you on buying a classical. I've never owned one. All I know is that in the right hands they sound very good.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by DS71
    I teach at a shop that sells Godins and could get a pretty decent deal.
    Please try Godins out with a strobe tuner before you buy. A friend got one and the bridge was off by a clear 1/8 inch and anything above the 5th fret was unforgivably sharp. The CEO of Godin visited the school where they were giving a talk and she quietly approached him after their presentation and asked what might be done. He took the guitar and 6 months later sent it back to her untouched, and a note saying there was no problem.

    She is a very good player, so it's not her imagination. She brought it to me and I had to agree, this was a lemon. Now a year later he visited the school again and again he told her to keep quiet and this time send it back herself. Meanwhile he had several "functional" guitars he left at the school as promotional instruments. He did not make an offer to exchange the instrument on the spot.

    This doesn't seem right. So I'd exercise some caution before I considered buying one. They may be nice when they're good, but their support leaves something to be desired if you encounter problems.

    David

  25. #24

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    Scofield on a nylon string with Joe Henderson doing I loves you Porgy thought it might inspire


  26. #25

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    I recently found a 1981 Alvarez Yairi model CY 125 that I converted to a flamenco guitar. If you can find one of these, I highly recommend it asa great classical guitar for jazz. It has a solid cedar top, solid Indian rosewood back and sides, nitro finish, ebony fretboard, wood bindings. It is loud and rich sounding. It has aged beautifully. Judging by the type of wear on the top, the previous owner must have also used it as a flamenco guitar. I installed a golpeadore to eliminate further wear. It has a full classical neck, but it feels great with a somewhat thinner profile. The action is perfect for flamenco - very low but still with plenty of tone and minimal buzz.

    I was going to prepare to save for a nice Alhambra 10FC (I love my Alhambra 9P, but I needed a flamenco guitar to go with it), but this fills the need nicely.

    Classical style guitar for classical and jazz......-img-0731-jpgClassical style guitar for classical and jazz......-img-0730-jpgClassical style guitar for classical and jazz......-img-0732-jpgClassical style guitar for classical and jazz......-img-0729-jpg