request Brahms gtr specs, input from extended range players

Discussion of all aspects of multi-string guitars, namely those with 7 or more strings.
InfinityCollision

Re: request Brahms gtr specs, input from extended range play

Post by InfinityCollision » Wed May 29, 2013 4:38 pm

Pardon the slight necro.
Blkw wrote:Despite all, I can't follow you in all your premises, mainly in the "electric" panel of your searches, as extrapolation to acoustic seems to me most daring. Not so much because of physics, but more the musical way electric players use high pitch tones - nearer to violin in my perception, another planet .
I believe this can be followed to a parallel of sorts, at least with regards to choices in fan design. My observation is that electric players generally set their personal limit on fan size based on the picking hand's comfort with the bridge angle and the fretting hand's comfort with the angles at either extreme of the neck. The latter is largely what gave rise to the usual choice of 7th/8th fret perpendicular: 8th fret perpendicular is roughly in the middle of the fretboard for a 24 fret guitar (pretty common for the rock and metal crowd that has driven the latest interest in 7+ string electrics), so the severity of the fan is split evenly at each end of the fretboard. 7th fret perpendicular reduces the angle at the nut at the expense of a greater angle near the end of the neck and the bridge. You can't push the angle too far for a given spacing without affecting playability at one end or the other. How much is too much seems to vary greatly from player to player; I've seen 4" and even 5" fans described as quite comfortable by some whereas others won't go beyond 2" or 3" fans.

Of course, while they're worried about comfort when playing high-register sweeps the issue here lies more in considerations like stretches near the nut, where the combination of scale length and fan is most apparent... But it also makes some stretches easier. Stretches moving up the neck from bass to treble are easier above the perpendicular fret, and stretches that are further up the neck on the bass side are easier below it. I do wonder just how far you could push a fan with minimal impact on playability for a given scale length and number of strings.

jack_cat
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Re: the 9 string fanned fret classical lives!

Post by jack_cat » Fri Sep 06, 2013 9:41 pm

Lance Litchfield wrote:Jack, I would have to assume the bigger the spread, the more likely fret spacing and intonation will be compromised, if only for the odd sideways stretch of the string. I would guess the current spread for fan fretted guitars is manageable, but it would have to be more troublesome with greater fret angles surely? If you were getting a guitar made up especially, why not make a mini Alto, less strings same stepping? You'd have a short scale to get to G easily, and could wind that up a little.
Hi y'all,
I have actually had the nine-string built now, an "inexpensive" prototype in Engelmann and Palo Escrito. Very beautiful instrument...OMG... built by Salvador Castillo. Short high A at 56 cm, long low F# at 68 cm, strings at even length increments of 15 mm. It is really too new to report on the sound - when it has opened up in a few months, time will tell. Also I don't really have the right strings for it yet. It is perhaps more lute-like or requinto-like than guitar-like. The basses are going to develop well, I am sure; the question is whether the high A string really works. This is the instrument that will answer a lot of questions like that but I have to live with it for a while. All those questions like: should it only be 8 strings? should it be a longer throw and only go up to G instead of A? How wide should the fingerboard be? I will be in a place to make more informed decisions on all these points after I have lived with it a year or so. It broke the bank, so it will be a couple or three years at least before I start thinking about another one!

The intonation is as near perfect as any six string, more so I think as I have not yet felt compelled to do any compensations at bridge or nut. Fanned frets have zero effect on intonation other than to reduce the tendency of thicker bass strings to fret sharp. Also, the fanned frets are very ergonomically comfortable - and the more so, (I didn't realize this when designing it) that since six out of nine strings are less than 65 cm, it really amounts to a short scale instrument. The barre in first position is not a problem on account of the angle, only because of the number of strings and the strength required. I have been shaving the nut slots down a little every day! When approaching the 12th fret, of course, the angle gets a little strange, but the frets are very close together and the angle makes interesting crossfingerings possible with lots of potential unique chord forms in that range. If I don't look at the fretboard it feels essentially normal except from the tenth fret up, but visually it's actually beautiful to play on the fanned frets, oddly enough - what an elegant scheme! Every note on the fingerboard has its own unique little box!
I had Salvador put some dots on the fingerboard at the last minute, though, which was a good move.

Anyway, I can play my Bach keyboard music on it - in theory anyway! Have the first Bach Invention up to about mm=80 to the 16th note... ah, yup :mrgreen: . And I read through the whole book of two and three part Inventions & Sinfonias in the first 24 hours I had it. I've only had it a couple of weeks. You can imagine that I am both thrilled and overwhelmed.

Pics coming soon. Sorry I don't have them today.

Thanks to everybody for your advice and help with this project.

- jack

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Re: request Brahms gtr specs, input from extended range play

Post by jack_cat » Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:07 pm

Here are the pics.
front-3.png

Back.png
pegs-1.png
I should mention that the guitar is opening up nicely and the balance is improving daily. (I had originally thought of cedar and palo escrito for the prototype, thinking of "having it all" right away instead of waiting for spruce to open up, but the builder, Salvador Castillo, said he wanted to use Engelmann and so it is.)

Specs:
Tuning: F# - B - E - A - D - G - B - E - A
String Spacing at nut: about 7.6 mm. (This is very narrow and was copied from my old parlor guitar, thinking that the full standard classical spacing of 8.5 or 9 mm would result in an un-manageably wide fingerboard. I might re-think this in the future. My 7-string is spaced at 9 mm which is quite wide, maybe 8.5 is the way to go.)
String Lengths: high A: 560 mm. Low F#: 680 mm. All others in neat 15 mm increments, with the low E "normal" at 650.
Tuners: Pegheds geared flamenco pegs.
"Perpendicular" fret is the 5th.
Woods: Engelmann Spruce, Palo Escrito.
Builder: Salvador Castillo of Paracho, Michoacan, Mexico
Price: You'll have to ask him for a quote. He's going to charge more for the next one, no doubt! I think that this is the first and only of these ever built, although I could be wrong...

I chose the length of the high A based purely on wanting to use a .47mm fluorocarbon string. I will soon receive a set of rectified nylon to try... the .47 FC string is a little bit high tension, perhaps the string length for that string at A-440 needs to be still a little shorter.

With 50 grand to spend I could have a whole set of these made with all the imaginable variables... !!!

- jack
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Lance Litchfield

Re: request Brahms gtr specs, input from extended range play

Post by Lance Litchfield » Mon Sep 09, 2013 11:27 pm

thanks for posting...interesting to see and hear your comments

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James Lister
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Re: request Brahms gtr specs, input from extended range play

Post by James Lister » Tue Sep 10, 2013 8:13 am

Congratualtions Jack! - looks pretty scary with that much fan angle.

How's the tone/sustain of the high A string?

Will be very interested to hear how you get on with playing it over the coming months. It would be great if at some point you could post a recording, or better still a video!

Cheers,

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

jack_cat
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Re: request Brahms gtr specs, input from extended range play

Post by jack_cat » Tue Sep 17, 2013 1:30 am

James Lister wrote:looks pretty scary with that much fan angle.
How's the tone/sustain of the high A string?
You know, for all that the fan angle "looks scary", and that I THOUGHT (as probably most people would) that that would be the biggest issue or liability with the design, it is totally comfortable. It is a non-issue. If I don't look at the fingerboard, I barely notice the fanned frets - my fingers find the sweet spot in each fret box "by feel", even in first position. I think that it would be possible to have this much fan and put the straight fret at the 7th or 8th and still have it playable in first position. Barres in the low positions are also not a problem, or anywhere else below the 10th fret, which is the same situation on any other guitar.

What is more of a problem is dealing with 9 strings with the right hand. I am a long-time right hand pinky user, and I cannot imagine playing this thing without it, but still there are nine strings to choose among with five fingers, and of course there are many, many more "open" chord voicings involving widely spaced notes which are possible. I have been studying, today, the first exercise (yeah, just that, transposing to 12 keys) in Rimsky-Korsakov's harmony manual, simple four-voice I-IV-V progressions but in very open voicings (R-K being a very "orchestral" thinker) one of which I describe: Low F as in the 1st fret on the low E of a six string, C a 12th higher, A as on the fifth fret of the high E of the six-string, and F as on the 13th fret of same. This can be done on my nine string across 8 strings OR across 9 strings and transposed through almost two octaves. Learning a WHOLE BUNCH of new chord voicings like this is just one of the possible challenges that has opened up.
This F chord in TAB: three different positions.
A: 8 or 8 or x
E: 5 __ x __ 13
B: x __ 10 __ 10
G: 5 __ x __ x
D: x __ 10 __ 10
A: x __ x __ x
E: x __ x __ x
B: 6 __ x __ x
F#:x __ 11 __ 11

The first fingering slides up another five frets or so, and the second fingering slides down to first position. The 3rd position is not comfortable here but slides down to the lowest possible notes. So this chord that one can barely even conceive of on the six string becomes routine on the nine-string. Why? you ask? Well, because it's there, you know.

As far as the sustain on the high A string - not so good yet. But I've only had it four weeks and it's spruce, so we'll see. The basses have already opened up fairly dramatically. The high A and high E are still a little pinched sounding, at least so far, and because I often play the high A with right hand pinky, which is the closest to the bridge, and the bridge on the high A is really close to the sound hole, I have to keep remembering to move my hand away from the bridge and play over the sound hole. This is probably the biggest potential liability with this design - getting a nice round fat sound out of that high A string. It MAY be impossible in the long run, or it may be something that you luthiers will develop over time. (There have been a zillion 6-strings built and the design factors are known; not the case with this as yet unique design.) I note that mandolins have the same pitched A, and it's steel, and they play it with a pick, and it has zero sustain, hence the mandolin tremolo. I also recall a comment by someone, perhaps earlier in this same thread, that good "A" lutes are pretty rare, and G lutes are the norm. Galbraith's high A sounds pretty nice but I think he's at Baroque pitch. On this subject, it is tempting to start to dream about another iteration based on G lute tuning with the shortest string about 600 mm, but the mental re-wiring involved in that one for me - composer, improviser, and half of a working duo - because of having to re-wire my mental "harmony map", is daunting, and with the amount of work I have in front of me learning this instrument, I am putting that thought off for a couple more years. I want to make the point that this is a player's design, driven by musical considerations, not a luthier's design driven by tonal considerations. It totally meets my _musical_ considerations. However, my straight-fret 650mm seven string (BEADGBE) by the same luthier is a more satisfactory instrument tonally - although it has had more than a year and a half to open up, so the comparison is not fair. (I should mention that I have played Castillo guitars since 2007, doing my 200 gigs a year - I really like his guitars, played a six string of his from 07 until early '12 when I got my seven string.)

- jack

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James Lister
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Re: request Brahms gtr specs, input from extended range play

Post by James Lister » Tue Sep 17, 2013 6:26 pm

Thanks Jack.

I'm not surprised about the A string - hopefully it will improve, but it's always going to be a struggle at that length I think.

Good to hear the playability isn't an issue for you. I must admit I hadn't thought of the problem of where your right hand falls on the treble strings - with that design it's always going to be nearer the bridge than ideal. I can't think of any obvious solution other than a radical redesign of the body shape to help move you arm/hand further up the string.

James
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Blkw
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Re: request Brahms gtr specs, input from extended range play

Post by Blkw » Sat Sep 21, 2013 8:53 am

Hello Jack,
I'm just back from three months webless away from home . Bewildered (and enthusiastic !) with your last posts . You speed along ...
I'll take the time later for more questions and comments - so much stuff to think about it, as I have my own new 8 string not yet started up ...
Meanwhile, Bravoooo ! Y.
"Non Serviam"

Alan Perros

Re: request Brahms gtr specs, input from extended range play

Post by Alan Perros » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:07 pm

Hi there,

I have a prototype of a fanned frets 8 strings guitar since about 6 months, built by Jean-Marie Fouilleul (France). String length is 610-655 mm.

You can see some photos on the french forum here: http://www.guitareclassiquedelcamp.com/ ... 67&t=31642

To answer some question by jack_cat about changing the tuning to ADGCFADG, i did test it because indeed, a high G string (with Alliance KF 0.60 mm or D'Addario extra-light 0.0275 inches) sound way better than the A. I'm myself improvising and composing a lot since 20 years on guitars... and I must admit even after some weeks, I was totally lost. I think that to play tabs, in the manner of lute players, or memorized pieces, it's not really a problem. But if you improvise with your head (that's my case), thinking in terms of notes, harmonic colors, scales and so on, I think this may take years to be comfortable. In the end though I don't see how I could re-learn as much as the 20 past years of tonal culture with the standard tuning... So, quite easy for pure interpretation, but an enormous loss for improvisers and composers.

So for me, after those weeks in "lute tuning" I decided to come back to the standard tuning with the high A first string. In the end after some intense reasearch on strings, I'm confident in the fact that a D'Addario Pro Arte J5201 (0.025 inches / 0.64 mm) would sound great around 590mm of length because at 610mm I think it's not far from a great sound. In fluorocarbone, it will probably be a KF 0.57 mm (0.0224 inches), but I think it'll be too thin under the nails and quite tense.

Even at 610mm, I have actually relatively good results with the D'Addario 0.025 (by far the best high A string on the market imo)...

Alan Perros

Re: request Brahms gtr specs, input from extended range play

Post by Alan Perros » Thu Oct 10, 2013 2:27 pm

By the way, i read in this post references and questions about Paul Galbraith, what strings at what pitch he uses and so on...

Six months ago, I happen to have exchanged a couple of mail with him on this subject. I quote the part about strings, pitch and string length:
"As to the all-important question of stringing, I use as thick a nylon 1st string as possible, as it simply sounds & feels better. If it gets too tense, or threatens to break, then I tune everything down.
In fact, I tune the whole guitar down a tone these days, and it's working very well for me - with thicker strings right across:
>
> 1= Extra High tension E (D'Addario, or equivalent);
> 2= Seaguar* fluorocarbon 50lb test (0.66mm);
> 3= Seaguar " 60lb test (0.74mm);
> 4= Seaguar " 90/100lb test 'Big Game' (0.93mm);
> 5= D'Addario NYL031W;
> 6= D'Addario NYL040W;
> 7= D'Addario NYL052W;
> 8= D'Addario NYL064W (you have to order this one specially, as they don't advertise it commercially - they make it to order for me. Though I think some other string manufactures produce this thick string normally.)
> NYL062W or even NYL060W also work, especially if your guitar gives a reasonable length here (see below - Martin Woodhouse).
>
> *Seaguar is a fishing line from Japan - you can order them online, and they're really fine strings (even though they're not designed as such!).

The only modifications to make with the strings I recommended, would be:
1/ a lighter 1st string (normal tension E string), and;
2/ strings 5-7, which are D'Addario (or equivalent) J4404, J4405, NYL050W respectively. Lighter versions of the ones mentioned above.
The other strings work fine tuned up at standard pitch, only they become quite tense under the fingers. You can get used to that without too much problem.
The 8th string 'issue' is simpler here, as you can use an NYL060W (or equivalent), which is easily available.

One extra point: a guitar-making friend of mine, Martin Woodhouse, who has made over 30 Brahms guitars already, recently used an increased string-length spread: 60cms for the 1st string, to 66cms of the 8th. (My Rubio guitars go from 61.3 to 65.3.) Martin says that the results are improved, and that the added angle for the left hand is still perfectly comfortable. Maybe your maker has already some ideas of his own, too.
So, all his previous recordings were made with extreme tension high strings. In fact, for the first A string he uses a D'Addario J4501 (0.0280 inches) or J4601 (0.0285 inches) at standard pitch 440 Hz with a 613 mm string length. I tested this and I really don't like this extreme tension for the high A (more than 11Kg !). Plus, the Seaguar fluorocarbon strings he uses are really extra-high tension too, because they are way more tense at same diameter than Alliance KF for example. I think it must have been really hard work for him to have a nice sound with those extreme tensions. In the end I'm not surprised that he decided to tune all those strings a tone down ! But the weird part is that he uses a D'Addario extra-hard J4401 (0.0290) for the high G string... I found myself that even at G, a D'Addario extra-light (0.0275) is quite on the extra-hard side !

Steve Thorneycroft

Re: request Brahms gtr specs, input from extended range play

Post by Steve Thorneycroft » Sun Oct 27, 2013 2:16 pm

Hi all,

Am new here on the forum, but came across this fascinating thread while restringing my 8 string tonight. Timely indeed! Hope my late entry into the discussion can be tolerated...

I have a 2011 Martin Woodhouse Brahms guitar - it's a 610 - 648 scale with multi radiused fingerboard. Have tried quite a few stringing options over the last 18 months or so & seem to have settled (after regretting a few resulting dings in the soundboard where strings have let go...) a normal tension Savarez Alliance set for the middle 6 with a light tension D'Addario J4301 (0.0275") for the high A. I also use a Hannabach rather than D'Addario for the low B. Martin's recommendation was a high tension Alliance set for the middle 6 & a high tension Pro Arte for the high A. My hands won't handle that tension, though it was quite good at G, from memory...

Inspired by reading the thread & another dent when the high A let go a couple of days back am trying a D'Addario T4501 - one of their titanium trebles. The tone from the nylon string wasn't quite in keeping with the rest of the set - will see how the t2 treble goes & post result if anyone's interested or still reading the thread! Will leave it at G overnight - find it helps the string to settle better.

Also - does anyone else's guitar use a tailpiece rather than securing at the bridge? Currently using masking tape wrapped around the high string to help strengthen at this point (at Martin's suggestion) - wondering if anyone else has experience or suggestions here.

Oh, and Lance, if you're ever down Armidale way (northern NSW) & at all interested in checking out the guitar, please sing out! I have a friend in town who plays one of your cedar guitars - can't remember the model offhand, but it's a wonderful instrument :)

Cheers
Steve

jack_cat
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Re: request Brahms gtr specs, input from extended range play

Post by jack_cat » Mon Oct 28, 2013 6:13 pm

OK - had it two months. Opening up divinely! The first few weeks were hell waiting for the spruce to begin to sing and thinking I had made a horrible mistake. Now I get to contemplate the particular magic a luthier has - how does he know that a spruce top guitar will surely sound good when it opens up? Anyway, the balance is much better, the high A has begun to sing very well. I am addicted and neglect my work axe. Have the first Bach invention down. I use the low F# string rarely yet but for the last chord in the Bach C major which could be done on 8 strings but is less awkward across nine. I am full blast into the work of learning to think on the instrument. Recapping 40 years of work on the six string as fast as possible.

I changed the high A which was a .47mm Seaguar fluoro to .435mm, much more satisfactory. This is a fundamental change from my original concept. The .47 A was too hi-tension and the .435 seems just right; I had previously rejected this string as entirely unusable in my preliminary tests. Goes to show you, calculations are only a guide for experiment. I have been using Arto's String Calculator (google that) and for the basses, the formula published by D'Addario in a PDF on their site. But experiment rules. I will mention again that I prefer fluoro to nylon first of all because it stays in tune with temperature changes, second because of the more brilliant sound, the more so because I am playing now with no nails.

I'm very happy with the design. I do have some trouble going back to my seven string work guitar which has a 9mm gap between strings; the nine string has a 7.6mm gap and although I adjust fine, I need some time to adjust when switching between the instruments. I.e, it's a mistake if I don't warm up on the seven string before I go play!

Low F# is now a .074" Savarez.
B .054" D'Addario
E .045"
A .037"
D .029"
G wound .024"
B Seaguar .7mm
E Momoi Fluorocarbon .52mm
A Seaguar .435

Blkw
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Re: request Brahms gtr specs, input from extended range play

Post by Blkw » Mon Nov 18, 2013 12:32 pm

... the more so because I am playing now with no nails.
I have had the same experience, and it was certainly the best means to get the best sound from this curse A, whatever the string used... (I'm coming from the lute) .
But I found the three next strings dull this way, and that's why I dropped to G back with nails . Maybe a shorter string - joined to a wizard luthier - is the definitive solution

(Jack, I wrote you a long PM last month about your amazing guitar, but as it is still in my outbox, I presume you didn't open it . Y.)
"Non Serviam"

Lance Litchfield

Re: request Brahms gtr specs, input from extended range play

Post by Lance Litchfield » Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:31 pm

Steve Thorneycroft wrote:

Oh, and Lance, if you're ever down Armidale way (northern NSW) & at all interested in checking out the guitar, please sing out! I have a friend in town who plays one of your cedar guitars - can't remember the model offhand, but it's a wonderful instrument :)

Cheers
Steve
Hi Steve...sorry I didn't see your post till now...I'd certainly be keen to see your guitar. I don't get out much, but have been wanting to do a drive to Sydney and Canberra one day with guitars in tow. Family life doesn't allow the luxury of time but it's one of those plans I have to drive down and make a few stops on the way, and smell the roses :) Thanks for your comments on my clients guitar...which ever it is...nice to know they are being seen, played and appreciated.

jack_cat
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Tuned it down to G

Post by jack_cat » Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:45 pm

Hi, this is the original poster chiming back in.
I have been obsessed with this guitar for an entire year, making first drawings last January, received it end of August and have spent since then learning to play it. (Aside from learning the expanded fingerboard layout, the major obstacle was having set the strings so close together, requiring a tightening up of my technique with both hands, changing from my previous work ax with a 9 mm spacing to this with 7.6 mm spacing. However, this obstacle is overcome.)

My big question was always about the practicality of the high A string. Many comments from 8 string players were duly noted, and I hoped to bypass the issues they spoke of by making the high A short, 56 cm. I went from a FC .47mm string first to .435 mm and then to a hair-thin .405 for a while. While the guitar sounded pretty nice, it was always a little stiff sounding all the way around, as well as the high A sounding a little thin. I was regarding it as my experimental thing.

SO!!! After listening for hours to Nigel North's recordings of Dowland, I tuned it down a step at last. WHAT a difference. It's a real guitar, deep booming basses and nice singing trebles, so profoundly different (and, I might add, more like the sound that I expected from the builder since I have two other guitars of his) that I can't refuse to use this tuning instead of the higher one that I planned. Now it's: (bottom to top)

E' - A' - D - G - c - f - a - d' - g' = double bass plus Renaissance G lute tuning.

this does present me with the issue I was afraid of and which Shub mentioned as why he went back to standard tuning: it's a whole new diapason for an improvisor / arranger / composer to deal with. But I have been re-wiring my brain for two years now, first with my 7-string and now this, and I think that I am up for the ongoing re-wiring job to learn fingerboard harmony with this tuning. The sound is worth it. :chaud:

I have some thoughts to share about high A strings in general. First a specific response to Shub who mentioned that he's going to try a FC .57 mm for a high A. I don't think so. I got down to .405 mm... A .57 mm makes a nice E string at 650 mm but it's pretty high tension and .52 mm is more comfortable even for a 650 mm E string.

Next a historical overview. (Parenthetically I don't buy James Tyler's strict separation of vihuela and guitar in the XVI century - this is pedantic although "literally" true - the instrument has had so many variations of form and name, from zither to ukelele etc. That was a temporary semantic distinction lasting a few short years in the 1600s. The whole lute-guitar-viol family shared tunings and techniques and was completely intertwined with many crossovers,from my point of view. )

SO: We see that Luis Milan writes his first fantasy in the Dorian mode with the high string being "La" or A. We see that Mudarra's Fantasy 10 has the high string Sol or G. We read in Galilei's "Fronimo" that he offers 12 different ways (and mentions that he has more) to map the gamut onto the lute - he's not changing the pitch, he's changing the names of the notes on the fingerboard (and he hasn't covered a complete cycle of fifths by any means). He offers a demonstrative set of ricercares in all 24 Glarean modes: 12 with G tuning, 9 with A tuning, 2 with C tuning and one with E tuning for the highest string. He is not changing the pitch, but the names of the notes. I observe that Luis Milan's music sounds beautiful and elegant with the high A tuning, but that Dowland's sounds thin unless it's in the G tuning.

At the beginning of the XVII century we see a period of chaotic experiments in different lute tunings lasting 25 years. When the dust clears, the vihuela has gone away, leaving behind the Baroque guitar which is patently just a vihuela missing its high A string (pace James Tyler.) So many vihuelas around with broken high A strings, they quit building them. In Italy the chittarone keeps the high A tuning sort of - the fingerings remain the same but the top A string is tuned down an octave and later the E string as well. Meanwhile the Baroque lute migrates in the course of the century from a G tuning to one with a high F. (The interesting thing about this tuning is that it duplicates the symmetry of the G tuning which has two sets of 3 strings with the same pattern, that is the Vielle Ton had 2 groups of 4ths separated by a third, and the later tuning has 2 groups of A - D - F.) But my point is that the high G string went down by a whole step.

So, I make it that the high A string of the vihuela was a victim of having to conform to a steadily rising pitch standard at the end of the XVI century, imposed by inflexible keyboard instruments and the need for a pitch standard for ensembles. Although Zarlino, Vicentino and Galilei were all agreed that the lute /viol /guitar family used equal temperament in the mid XVI century, and therefore could in theory map the gamut to any pitch, keyboard players used meantone for another several generations and therefore could not remap the gamut, so they drove the movement toward pitch standardization. Also, once lute-family players were required to read continuo parts in staff notation they probably had to standardize their pitch - tranposing at sight is a pain to say the least.

My current feeling is that an instrument having a high A must be a small, twangy thing closer to the uke or the mandolin. Although I haven't time and money for a thorough and scientific investigation, the experience of this year points to a high G as being a reasonable upper limit, and I want to go on record as saying so because I have been resisting this conclusion throughout the course of this thread.

I note that the Terz guitar of Giuliani was tuned to G. Also, in Mexico there are many clear remnants of 17th c. Spanish music practice, among them specifically the Mexican Vihuela which has five strings tuned A D G B E (note: vihuela with no high A), and the Mexican Requinto (a word used for a particular guitar tuning in the 16th c. - cf James Tyler) which is a little 6-string guitar which may be tuned up a fourth (A tuning) but is more commonly tuned up a third (G tuning) and which has typically a scale length of about 54 cm.

For the future, I see that an 8-string instrument tuned A - D - G - C - F - A - D - G with a modest fanned fret layout is a very practical, well sounding and conservative solution to the extended range guitar question. My next question with regard to the 9 string, is how far the low E string could be stretched out. Based on my experience of the fanned frets, which is that playing on fanned frets is far less of an issue than the mental work of mapping the extended fingerboard, I believe that a low 9th string could be 700 mm or more, maybe 720, and sound much beefier. Now I admit that it's arguable that it's not really musically necessary. But I have one now, and am finding plenty of opportunities to use those low notes, and the truth is the low E string sounds better than it did as an F sharp. I really think that the very modest fans used on the Brahms Guitar are missing an opportunity to stretch out the basses to where they would really sound like something... (my low E is 680 mm, and the total fan is 12 cm. this is twice the fan of the Brahms guitars. )

Over and Out! Happy New Year everybody and thanks so much for all your input!
- jack cat

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