request Brahms gtr specs, input from extended range players

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

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

Post by Slaven » Mon Jun 08, 2015 7:42 pm

jack_cat wrote:quote - "the string width at the nut is 6.1mm and 7.9mm at the bridge. "
Ha! I just realized I wrote mm instead of cm. It's 6.1 cm and 7.9 cm. :lol:

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

Post by jack_cat » Mon Jun 08, 2015 10:43 pm

Oh, I see you beat me to it! I just wrote:

Slaven, a picture is worth a thousand words! In your post you said the string width was 6.1 mm -- which could only be from one string to the next --

"the string width at the nut is 6.1mm and 7.9mm at the bridge" you wrote...

but it appears that you meant 6.1 centimeters, which is the entire width of the fingerboard minus the edges, a very different thing which puts the strings at between 8 and 9 mm apart, which is standard. Thanks for clarifying. You might edit your post to read cm instead of mm.

Slaven

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

Post by Slaven » Tue Jun 09, 2015 8:48 am

Done! They are actually 7 mm at the nut and 10 mm at the bridge.

David Conti
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Re: request Brahms gtr specs, input from extended range players

Post by David Conti » Tue Jun 09, 2015 3:18 pm

I know this is off the topic a bit but here is a picture of a 10 string Oribe built in 1966 for Angel Romero. It is spruce/Brazilian and has a great sound although I have not had enough time to feel comfortable on it yet. Perhaps 6 is enough for me!
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Re: request Brahms gtr specs, input from extended range players

Post by jack_cat » Sat Jun 13, 2015 8:30 pm

"off the topic a bit but here is a picture of a 10 string Oribe"

nice pic. you are forgiven. I guess Angel didn't stick with the ten string. I have already said that I think the straight fret ten string design is obsolete - the extra low basses are fine when they ring open, but they don't fret very well, suffering from the same defect as did the low F# on my 9-string prototype (now converted to a lovely eight string which I have been playing incessantly lately). The same tuning would be much improved either with fanned frets or with a harp-guitar or baroque-lute extension neck to make the basses longer than the fingerboard. Do you own the Oribe? It would be of interest to know how wide the fingerboard is, how far apart the strings are spaced at each end, and what material the fingerboard appears to be and whether it ever appears to have checked and had the crack filled at the soundhole end.

I am now looking at the new fanned fret nine string design with an 80-mm wide Granadillo fingerboard and the strings fanned from 600mm to 720, from high A, six regular strings, to low B and low F#. 600 to 720 is a nice pythagorean 5/6 ratio, the fan is not more extreme than my prototype and the upper frets will be slightly wider though in the low positions stretches will be difficult, the high A is not maxed out for length, and the F# should be long enough to sound better.

jack

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

Post by jack_cat » Tue Jun 16, 2015 5:34 pm

Am probably changing my mind on the length of the high A string on the new build and going with 620mm to lessen the fan a bit. All the Brahms guitar types seem to be OK if not exactly ecstatic with high A's somewhere in the 615-630 range. Maximizing the high A in this way is not necessary for the high A string itself, which on the prototype is now working very well at 560mm. But on the prototype the high E and G strings are tubby and marginally out of tune in the upper register, and I seriously want to avoid this on the next build by lengthening them, requiring that the A be longer as well. How much longer is necessary, is of course one of the guesses involved. At present I am inclined to maximize. Although the 600mm A would in my opinion be better in and of itself, the resulting length of the other strings remains a consideration.

Although I should mention that over thar at sevenstring.org you can find people messing with designs for fanned-fret electrics with non-linearly progressive string lengths and with custom curves on the individual frets OMG!! If you think my fanned fret design looks wierd!

jack

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

Post by Blkw » Tue Jun 16, 2015 7:31 pm

Hello Jack,

Even if I'm not always chatting, I'm still on the wave and reading last trends on the thread .
One can only hail your incredible knack and bravery about all your attempts with that cursed a' pitch and all what relies on it . You're inexhaustible, bravo, never cease !!! People like you make the things change .
My new 8str Luthare gives me the best I could wait for, but I limited my expectations to the simple goals I developped earlier . Here's a pic.
Image
Cheers, Yves
"Non Serviam"

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

Post by jack_cat » Thu Jul 16, 2015 6:58 pm

Blkw wrote:Hello Jack, ...reading last trends on the thread ...
My new 8str Luthare gives me the best I could wait for, but I limited my expectations to the simple goals I developped earlier . Here's a pic.
Cheers, Yves
Yves: what kind of tuners are on that 8 string?

I have been using Pegheds, which look like wooden clavijas but have a gear inside, for both my 7 -string and the prototype 9, but I am not entirely happy with them and would prefer something else for the new one. I am considering Schertler, which are sold as individual units instead of 3-on-a-plate as most classical tuners are.

jack

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Re: NEW GUITAR DAY

Post by jack_cat » Wed Apr 06, 2016 2:47 pm

New Guitar Day

Fabulous. Very happy. 5 octaves under the fingers, all strings fully functional on the fingerboard. Big fat basses, clear trebles, very even throughout the range. An order of magnitude better in all respects - tone, playability - than the prototype I had built in 2013. This is a fully successful guitar and no longer an experiment or prototype.

(Actually I picked it up a week ago but I was distracted from crowing ecstatically by a pickup wire faintly rattling, which I solved yesterday.)

9 string Fanned Fret 60c to 72c, F#1 B1 E2 A2 D3 G3 B3 E4 A4
Spruce and Cocobolo
Lattice Brace
Fingerboard 80mm wide, Granadillo
Schertler tuners
JJB pickup (sounds and works great)
F#1 now at .075" but will soon try something a little thicker.
A4 in rectified nylon at .022"

Pickup goes to a 31-band EQ and then direct to a powered speaker. No preamp, no mixer.

The combination of the off-center soundhole and the sound-port under the left ear gives a stereo effect which is like being inside the guitar.
Finished-w-strings_03.jpg
top-n-sides_glue-up_03.jpg
back-n-sides-temp_02.jpg
First_Time_05.jpg
Goofy grin blurred out :casque:
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Re: request Brahms gtr specs, input from extended range players

Post by jack_cat » Wed Aug 24, 2016 9:09 pm

A summing-up by the Original Poster.
As I have accomplished what I set out to do when I started these two threads (one on the Delcamp English forum, and one in the ERG forum at sevenstring.org), and as I feel that it is very unlikely that I will go any farther with any radical guitar design process myself, I feel that it is time to sum up the results of my researches and to thank everyone who has helped me in the process. It has been interesting to observe that the Delcamp forum has generally been quite conservative, as reflecting its classical orientation, and the sevenstring.org forum has been generally encouraging of more radical ideas, reflecting its orientation toward electric instruments and eclectic modern musical styles.

The final result of this three year process is a 9-string fanned fret classical guitar tuned
F#1 - B1 - E2 - A2 - D3 - G3 - B3 - E4 - A4.
This is, of course, the standard tuning of the six string guitar with one additional treble string and two additional bass strings.

The longest string (F#1) measures 72 centimeters.
The shortest string (A4) measures 60 centimeters.
The "right-angle" fret is the third. (On my 9-string prototype of 2013, the right-angle fret was #5, and this resulted in difficulty with first-position work. The third-fret right-angle is far better. The increase in the angle of the upper frets is not significant.)
The string spacing is 9mm at the nut (left-hand) end, and 11mm at the bridge (right-hand) end.
It has four 20mm piezo discs wired together into a single jack and glued to the underside of the top. This pickup combination was made for me by JJB electronics. It is slightly bass-heavy, easily corrected with EQ.
Tuners: Schertler. These are the only classical guitar tuners I have found that are not 3-on-a-plate and come individually. I had to buy two complete sets anyway. They have an 18:1 ratio and are very sweet tuners.

I have abandoned fluorocarbon strings and am using rectified nylon. The high A4 is now a D'Addario .021". The low F@1 is a wound .075" - Savarez or La Bella, I don't remember. The La Bella lute strings, sold by Strings by Mail as single strings, are a blessing, because a normal guitar D string is not long enough to reach the end of the peg head.

With these specifications my design can be reproduced. The details of the specific build, realized in February and March 2016 by Paracho luthier Salvador Castillo, will be discussed below. I am very happy with the design and am playing the new guitar exclusively, not without some physical problems as mentioned below.

In 2012 I had Castillo build me a straight fret seven-string guitar with string length 65 centimeters, tuned as a standard six-string plus a low B1. Although this was a beautiful instrument and I played it for several years, two further considerations arose. (1) It appeared to me that the low B string was not long enough at 65 centimeters. (2) I began to desire an additional treble string, an A4, but for this purpose, 65 c. was clearly too long: all available strings break at that length and pitch.

Researching the question, I looked at the "Brahms Guitar" design played by Paul Galbraith. I could not find at that time any specific information on the critical dimensions: length of longest and shortest strings, number of the "right-angle" fret, and fingerboard width (which is to say, string spacing). By the time I had found this information, the more radical designs of the fanned-fret electric guitars being shared on the sevenstring.org forum - which have up to eleven strings - had led me to consider a 9-string design instead.

For the reader who is looking for specs on the "Brahms Guitar", these seem to be the usual norm (if there is one) based on Galbraith's design:
Longest String (B1) 65 centimeters.
Shortest String (A4) 61.5 centimeters.
Right-angle Fret: Number 7 or 8.
String Spacing: I assume 9 mm at the nut. (This could well be a personal choice, as many players prefer narrower spacings; some classical guitars have 8 mm or 8.5 mm spacing at the nut. However, some players, myself included, have made the mistake of choosing an impractically narrow spacing, as I did on the 2013 9-string prototype (7.5mm at nut.) Electric guitars are often very much narrower than classical guitars.)

These specs of Galbraith's show a concern with minimizing the width of the fan, at the expense of the tone quality of the "added" strings B1 and A4. My own recommendation for a fanned fret 8-string, based on my own experiences now with a number of ERGs (3 7-strings and 2 9-strings), would be to make the A4 at 60 centimeters and the B1 at 68 centimeters. This will much improve the quality of those added strings at the expense of making the fan more than twice as wide (but only 2/3 as wide as my new 9-string). The appropriate location of the "right-angle" fret should then be determined empirically through making multiple drawings, cutting them out and putting them on cardboard mockups. Probably the fifth fret would be fine.

The advantages of my nine-string design are:

(1) The upper six string are tuned as a Renaissance lute in A. This gives me direct access to the entire lute literature of the sixteenth century on my regular instrument. The range, although not the tuning, of these upper six strings is also the same as the Mexican Requinto, allowing me to closely imitate that instrument also, although with slightly different chord forms under the fingers.

(2) The standard six-string tuning is preserved intact, so that all legacy repertory is portable without modifications, except for some occasional intonation issues which mandate moving some very high passages to the upper (lute) string set, requiring re-fingering.

(3) With the addition of a low B1 as on the Brahms guitar or on my 2012 7-string, a guitar has a nominal range from B1 to C6 (with 20 frets) which is the same as the 4-octave keyboard which accomodates most of the keyboard music of J. S. Bach. However, on 7- or 8-string instruments, the low register is not accessible at the same time as the high register. On the contrary, with the 9-string, the desirable low bass notes around C2 are moved up to the middle of the fingerboard, and the desirable high register in the 5th octave is moved down five frets, requiring less crawling around above the 12th fret. The cutaway, however, makes the uppermost register very accessible also. The extreme angles of the upper frets are not a disadvantage and in fact are better ergonomically (whereas an extreme angle at the other end near the nut is a decided disadvantage, based on my experience with the 2013 9-string prototype).

(4) The addition of two extra bass strings gives me a full bass register. The four strings F#1 B1 E2 A2 essentially are, together, a four-string bass tuned one whole step higher than normal. This allows me to use my regular instrument to play bass when I want to. The low F#1 played open remains a little bit unfocused in sound. I conclude that to make that low a pitch resonate is just below the capacity of a normal-sized classical guitar body. However, the note G1 is better, and the note A1 is the equal of all of the higher notes. Playing the F#1 string higher on the neck, it is perfectly and beautifully functional, and has none of the unpleasant clickiness that the F#1 on the 2013 prototype exhibited at 68 centimeters length. It does not appear to me to be worth it to build another guitar with the F#1 at 75 c., although I have thought about it, because of the following issue:

Apologies for whining, but for the sake of sharing the complete info, here it is. On receiving the instrument around the first of April 2016, I began to practice long hours. Within two months I had abused my left wrist thoroughly by attempting many full barres and stretched-out positions (particularly in my study of the Bach two-part Inventions), which translated then into a chronic sore elbow which has persisted. In June I was forced to reduce my practice schedule to only a very few hours a week in order to be able to maintain my 10-hour-a-week performance schedule, due to pain in my left elbow and wrist. I have been too stubborn to go back to a smaller instrument, as I really like playing this one. I am 60 years old, and a younger player might be able to adapt more easily. Naturally I don't admit defeat and have high hopes that I will overcome this obstacle in time, with care and patience. I have had many episodes of tendonitis, but mostly with the right hand in the past, seldom with the left.

This difficulty met another: the new guitar was developing a dip-and-bulge around the bridge. I had ordered a variety of strings (three different thicknesses for each of the nine) based around a nominal tension of 7 kilograms per string. Castillo, in my necessary absence, chose from the strings I had sent him, and chose those that made the guitar sound like one of the flamenco guitars which are his regular stock in trade, and in fact complained that a couple of the strings could be higher tension yet. Yes, it sounded great, and when I first picked it up, it seemed quite easy to play - until I had been at it a couple of months. In the interest of sparing both myself and the guitar, I have recently replaced the strings with thinner ones at 6 kilos of tension. (I have ordered more thinner strings and intend to try 5 kilos next, depending on how things go.) The bulge-and-dip flattened out considerably when I put the thinner strings on, to my relief, and I find it easier to play. This move to thinner strings requires that I be content with less projection - in theory, but the fact is I haven't really noticed much difference except the greater ease of playing. Amplified, this is not a problem anyway. Also, ornaments are easier.

When I had Castillo build the 9-string prototype in 2013, we were both aware that there are many 10-strings around (of the Yepes pattern - it's a popular design with the university students here) which have developed structural problems due to the extra string tension.The 2013 prototype was perhaps overbuilt, and it never quite sparkled. With the new 2016 build, it appears that it may be underbuilt. Viewed through the soundport, the spruce top is quite translucent and looks scarily thin. The lattice bracing is gossamer, and does not extend all the way to the sides, so the entire top seems to float. However, it sounded fabulous from the first time I picked it up, and continues to sound better. I would not trade this beautiful sound for mere sturdiness, even if it is necessary to reduce the string tension more. The original strings at 7 kilos tension made a total of 63 kilos (that's like 140 pounds) of tension, as opposed to about 42k for a six string. At 6 kilos the total is reduced to 54. At five kilos tension it would be down to 45k total, not much more than a six string. For many years while I played six string, I went for that bright, digital, naily, high tension sound that had become the norm for the 20th century classical guitar, and I was able to do that with the seven string, too, but with nine, something has to give, chiefly my hand muscles, and so the situation requires reevaluation. in order to accomplish the musical results.

The Cocobolo back has a big X-brace on it. You will appreciate that the line between overbuilding and underbuilding is a complete crapshoot with such an experimental design. In this case, the displaced soundhole (placed away in the bass side of the upper bout in order to free up some room for the top to vibrate around the A4 end of the bridge) also made an unpredictable design variable. At any rate, I am very happy with the sound, and as it was impossible for me to physically continue playing it with heavy gauge strings, it appears that going with lighter gauge strings is a happy compromise for both me and the guitar.

So once again, I want to thank all of the interested people who have helped me with advice, encouragement, and even cash, during the three-year-plus process of designing this guitar and having it built. It has been quite an experience and worth it all the way. It feels like a summing up of my lifetime as a musician. Hope I get another couple of decades to play it! I also hope that some young players will pick up the design and run with it.

The promised CD is on ice for a few months at least.
- jack
Aug-2016_9-string_1.jpg
Aug-2016_9-string_2.jpg
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Last edited by jack_cat on Fri Aug 26, 2016 2:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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

Post by James Lister » Thu Aug 25, 2016 9:52 am

Hi Jack,

I somehow missed your post in April when you had recently received the guitar - so belated congratulations!

Thanks for posting about your experiences with the guitar and the design process. There's a lot of useful info in there for anyone considering building or commissioning such an instrument.

I've had a few enquiries recently about 7- and 8-string fan fretted instruments, and had some to the conclusion that a scale difference of much more than 6cm would be impractical. I'm impressed that you have made it work for you as a player.

A couple of points - I understand the reasoning for not taking the string spacing at the nut too narrow - but what was your reason for going wider than most 6-string guitars. Is this just your preference in general, or was there any reason for needing a wider spacing on the 9-string?

The top A string. I discussed this both with a luthier who had made a Brahms type guitar, and also with Paul Galbraith, and both were of the opinion that tuning to A on anything longer than about 580mm caused issues with both string tuning stability (mostly with nylon) and/or tone (with carbon strings). Galbraith now mostly tunes his top string to G, and is using a D'Addario nylon (0.74mm) for the 1st string, and Seaguar or Blackwater fishing line for strings 2-4.

Thanks again for posting in so much detail.

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

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

Post by jack_cat » Fri Aug 26, 2016 1:50 pm

James Lister wrote:...I understand the reasoning for not taking the string spacing at the nut too narrow - but what was your reason for going wider than most 6-string guitars. Is this just your preference in general, or was there any reason for needing a wider spacing on the 9-string?
Well - this has become a personal preference, maybe there are a lot of people with skinnier fingers than me. I worked very hard for a long time to develop a clean left hand technique according to my own criteria, and a major source of subtle extra noise that I had to overcome was from left hand fingers touching adjacent vibrating strings. So I gravitated toward the widest spacing, which also happens to be the preferred spacing of Castillo the luthier, whose guitars I have played since '07, and who does not have skinny fingers himself, and is a creditable player. I had become accustomed to it, and then, as reported above, when I had the 2013 9-string prototype built, I went with a very narrow spacing (7.5mm) on the theory that the resulting narrow neck (69mm) would be easier than the wider neck on the later 2016 build (80mm), (and because electric players use such spacings, such as a jazz player friend with his Gibson archtop), and supposing that the necessary technical adaptation would be only an adjustment. The adaptation turned out to be much more challenging than I had thought, and so I eliminated that variable and decided to go with "most comfortable" at the expense of the wider neck overall, which of course has still been a physical challenge.

There is another factor: the low B and F# strings are thick enough to demand wider spacing. The F# is .075" or 1.9 mm. I floated the idea of graduated string widths from 8mm between the A4 and E4 to 9mm between the B1 and F#1... I had a lot of possible complications to the design, this was one of them, I let go of this one.
James Lister wrote:...The top A string. I discussed this both with a luthier who had made a Brahms type guitar, and also with Paul Galbraith, and both were of the opinion that tuning to A on anything longer than about 580mm caused issues with both string tuning stability (mostly with nylon) and/or tone (with carbon strings). Galbraith now mostly tunes his top string to G, and is using a D'Addario nylon (0.74mm) for the 1st string, and Seaguar or Blackwater fishing line for strings 2-4.
Yes, I understand the reasoning. This is why my 2013 prototype had the A4 at 560mm, to test this idea, which I thought was most likely according to the rough benchtop tests I did on possible string lengths. I have played all of the (other people's) instruments I have been able to find that have A4 strings, ranging from 540 to 630, and in my opinion my present 600 length is the best compromise - the idea being to maximize tone, volume, and intonation. In the abstract, 580 is indeed optimum. (But I also wanted the low F#1.) Anyway, a high A4 string on the guitar is just never never going to have the kind of punch that a modern high E4 has, because, as you know, the 20th century trend was ever toward bigger and louder, the high tension strings, carbon reinforced bracing and high action and so on, and that kind of sound has become a "normal" expectation for a modern classical guitar. (Once when I was guitar hunting, I had the unforgettable opportunity to play a 1920s era parlor-sized guitar by Santos Hernandez, who worked with Ramirez I think, which was quiet, sensitive, and built to a totally different aesthetic - and obviously unsuitable for an aspiring classical guitar student in the Segovia era.) At my very first lesson with my main teacher, when I was a teenager, he said, "You're gonna have to play louder than that to be heard in the back of a concert hall", and so I grew up trying to sound like that, what Pepe Romero and Sharon Isbin did. So the A4 string is never going to do that, it doesn't, I think, have enough mass, being so thin. Often when playing chords I have to be careful to play more softly on the E4 and B3 strings and accent the A4 so that it is heard. Galbraith, I believe, finds himself in the position of needing to conform, more than I do, to the conventional expectations of classical guitar sound in a concert hall, hence the resonator box and the lower tuning. I tried super-high-tension fluorocarbon (up to .47mm) on the prototype to try to get the A4 to behave more like the usual E4 string, and I didn't like it, just like the two people you mentioned talking to. The sound was harsh, the string insensitive to vibrato. Accepting the weaker sound of a thin rectified nylon string gives more musical results. I am using a .021" rectified nylon string. Galbraith's .74mm as mentioned in your post above = .029", far higher tension.

So what I am up against is that my musical conception of an Extended Range instrument is pushing against the realities of string capacity and the established conventions of guitar design and the established expectations of classical guitar sound. That being so, it doesn't bother me that the extreme ends of the evolving conception may be still a little unfocused. There have been a million or two straight-fret 650 mm classical six-strings built since Torres, and only 2 (?) fanned-fret 9-strings and maybe a hundred or two fanned-fret 8-string classicals, so there is plenty of room for improvement through collective experience. Ultimately the guitar must be designed for a balanced sound around the actual capacity of the high A string, rather than expecting the high A to conform to established six-string norms. As I am discovering, this requires, for me, a move toward a smaller sound, a chamber sound rather than a concert-hall sound, toward lower action, softer strings. With amplification, this is working fine for playing in public.

The new 2016 9-string allows me to accomplish musical goals. The extra register provided by the A4 string, once under the fingers, feels like a long-missing limb restored. I am pretty sure that there could not be a gut string tuned A4 at 600 mm that would last more than a day, so my A4 is only possible with plastic strings. The solution of tuning the whole thing down a whole step would be very sensible, if it were not for the twin questions of conforming to a standard pitch and maintaining legacy repertory. I have been over and over this issue: if I were starting from scratch, a G tuning would be a sensible possibility. I am pretty sure that this duplicates the situation that arose at the end of the sixteenth century, when I believe that vihuelists had to conform to a pitch standard imposed by keyboard instruments, and shortly abandoned their high A while the players of chitarrones tuned it down an octave and the lute players tuned down to G and then went with the F of the Baroque tuning. The proliferation of alternate tunings in the early 17th century may have been connected with this process.

If I were a luthier then my professional goals would be tempered by the necessity of producing guitars that have the conventionally expected sound, and I would say, well, an A4 string can't do that, forget it. As I am neither a luthier or a conventional classical guitarist, my goals are not dependent on the conventional standard for sound, I have a little more latitude. At the same time, I have been to considerable expense to get the best instrument that I could afford to have built, even to the extreme of a preliminary prototype which I knew would have flaws. If I had had 50 grand to play with, I might have had 5 prototypes built. As matters stand, I'm happy, I have a beautiful instrument that I love playing. If it has pushed me to the limits of my physical capacity, I accept that - I can't blame myself that for not trying hard enough to exploit it to the max, and anyway that process is ongoing regardless. But it is clearly a job for somebody with big strong hands. (I am a big advocate of the idea that people with smaller hands should use shorter scale lengths than 650 to accomplish their musical goals.)

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

Post by Luis Fernandez de Cordoba » Fri Aug 26, 2016 3:45 pm

I think the perpendicular to the center fret of the Brahms guitar is the 12th and the scales are 615-650 That would make the nut angle to acute for normal playing. For the playing you are describing probably 635-670 scale and perpendicular fret at the 5th fret might work.

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

Post by jack_cat » Tue Sep 13, 2016 10:40 pm

Re the post by Luis Fernandez de Cordoba:
I think the "perpendicular to the center fret" of the Brahms guitar is the 8th, not the 12th as Luis wrote. I could be wrong... maybe... but
"That would make the nut angle too acute for normal playing" - you bet it would. Anyway, thanks Luis for chiming in.

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

Post by entschwindet » Mon Sep 19, 2016 11:48 pm

I would just like to add that the discussions on this thread over the years have been of great use to me, when I was considering whether or not to get involved in extended range guitars.

For what it's worth I now have one of the Bartolex quasi-Brahms guitars. I've really enjoyed learning to play it, although I've not given it nearly enough time. There are a few problems however - the string lengths are 650-700 which is too long, especially considering the extra stretching across the neck, I have a reasonably good reach but this is too much and I can really feel it. I also have some intonation problems with the instrument which I'm yet to get fully resolved.

I have it tuned down a step (ie A1 D2 G2 C3 F3 A3 D4 G4) which helps with the string sound issues people have described, but I still have some trouble getting properly comfortable tensions, in particular with the nylons/fluorocarbons. Tuning down does mean that I can play straight from the big book of Dowland but also that I have to write out new transcriptions for everything else, although bringing some music into comfortable range that is fundamentally impossible on a 6 string has been a very satisfying experience. I've begun writing out some of Galbraith's transcriptions recently which has been very informative on how he approaches moving around the instrument.

Perhaps at some point I'll have a Brahms built especially, but for now as I don't perform or anything I can't justify the cost. But Jack Cat's instrument looks really fascinating, congratulations, and as I mentioned above I would like to thank everyone for the very thorough and useful info on this thread.

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