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While for many people a guitar is a well-known instrument and seems the same in all its presentations, the truth is that they are not all exactly alike. There are guitars created exclusively for the unmistakable sounds of flamenco. But what if a learner wants to play this wonderful musical genre but only has a classical guitar? Can they do it?

As is well known, flamenco, a deeply rooted artistic expression in Spanish culture, is manifested not only through singing and dancing but also through the magic that emanates from the strings of a guitar. From there, many traditionalists do not conceive the interpretation of this genre in its pure state without the proper instrument.

Given the above, if you are an enthusiast or learner of this art, you probably have the following question: Is it possible to play flamenco with a classical guitar? The answer is a resounding yes. Although there are notable differences between flamenco and classical guitars, it is possible to interpret flamenco with both. However, the choice of instrument will influence the quality and authenticity of the flamenco sound.

Differences between flamenco and classical guitar

To the untrained eye (and ear), one type of guitar may not differ much from another. But oh, there are differences! The master builders of these musical instruments – luthiers – know perfectly well that the wood used, its curves, and the material of the strings can substantially change the depth or intonation of the sound. This is why classical guitars may have a different sound profile when playing flamenco melodies.

Does the sound really change profoundly? Let’s understand this by examining the differences between both types of guitars. The flamenco guitar, specifically designed for this musical genre, is characterized by its lightweight construction, with woods like cypress for the back and sides, and a spruce or cedar top. This gives it a bright and percussive sound, ideal for flamenco. Additionally, the string action (the distance between the strings and the fretboard) is usually lower than in classical guitars, facilitating the execution of flamenco techniques such as strumming and tapping.

On the other hand, the classical guitar, used in a wide range of genres, is built with woods like rosewood for the back and sides and has a cedar or spruce top. Its sound is warmer and rounder, with greater resonance and sustain. The string action is higher to avoid buzzing when playing pieces with arpeggios or fast scales.

Is it possible to achieve the flamenco sound on a classical guitar?

As mentioned earlier, we see that there is a considerable difference in the construction of guitars specifically made for flamenco and classical guitars. Although the latter is not intended for flamenco, it is possible to approach the characteristic sound of this genre. The guitarist’s technique plays a crucial role in this aspect. Mastering strumming, picado, alzapúa, and tapping on the soundboard can help emulate the flamenco style.

The choice of strings is also important. Using medium or low tension strings can facilitate the execution of flamenco techniques and provide a brighter sound. Additionally, adjusting the string height to reduce action can improve comfort while playing and bring the sound closer to that of a flamenco guitar.

Flamenco repertoire for classical guitar

As expected, the flamenco repertoire is designed for flamenco guitar, but there are numerous pieces that can be adapted to the classical guitar. Some of the most well-known include “Asturias (Leyenda)” by Isaac Albéniz, “Recuerdos de la Alhambra” by Francisco Tárrega, and “Entre dos aguas” by Paco de Lucía. These works, although not strictly flamenco, incorporate elements of flamenco that can be interpreted on a classical guitar. Additionally, many classical guitarists have arranged traditional flamenco pieces, such as soleares, bulerías, and fandangos, adapting them to the sound and technical capabilities of the classical guitar.
Guitarra flamenco

 

Experiences of musicians playing flamenco with a classical guitar clásica

Throughout history, various classical guitarists have experimented with flamenco interpretation on their instruments. A notable example is Andrés Segovia, who, despite being a classical guitarist, included pieces with flamenco influence in his repertoire. His approach and technique demonstrated that it is possible to convey the essence of flamenco through a classical guitar.

Currently, guitarists such as Ana Vidovic and John Williams have performed works with flamenco influence, showcasing the versatility of the classical guitar. These musicians have adapted their technique and style to approach the flamenco sound, proving that, although there are differences between flamenco and classical guitars, the passion and art of flamenco can be expressed on both instruments.

In conclusion, while the flamenco guitar is the ideal instrument for flamenco interpretation, the classical guitar can be a viable alternative for those wishing to explore this genre. With the right technique, careful string selection, and adaptation of repertoire, it is possible to achieve an authentic flamenco sound on a classical guitar. Experimentation and a love for flamenco music are the keys for classical guitarists to enjoy and express themselves through this special and unique art form.