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Old 11-27-2017, 01:03 PM
Carbonius Carbonius is offline
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Default Concers about inexpensive guitar "New to Nylon" part II

So after all the talk in the thread (THANKS) http://www.acousticguitarforum.com/f...d.php?t=489059 I went back to do more sleuthing and hopefully catch the in-house Flamenco & Classical player at a local store. While there I tried a guitar that I would have never touched. A cheaper Almansa, model A-401. This is after I found comments on some classical guitar forum comparing La Patrie to Almansa. He referenced the greater weight of the La Patrie directly relating to how many people describe La Patrie, quieter. The Almansa is very light and it is the best I've played. To be fair, the staff member confirmed that the strings on the other guitars were totally dead. I played it for a while and then he played it. I was very surprised at it. Solid Cedar top, laminated Mohogany B/S. It had no cutaway, no truss rod, a full 52mm nut, a flat fretboard and high action. These are all things I didn't want.

HOWEVER...

The nut is no problem at all, even though I am used to 1 3/4. The flat fretboard is no problem at all. The "high action" isn't all that high as far as classical guitars go. Just under 4 mm on low E & just under 3 mm on high E at 12th fret. Lots of saddle left if I wanted it lower. Once I started playing it, the action didn't feel all that high. I believe regular tension nylon strings are less than 1/2 the string tension of light gauge steel strings. The sustain on the lower 3 strings was shocking to me. They ring for a LONG time. It is a very light guitar. Quite a bit lighter than other classical's there. It's made in Spain by the traditional methods.

I tried some simple classical pieces I was trying on steel string and they were immediately easier. I recalled my 10 years of playing bass and assuming a bass playing position. The high action lets you really thump on the strings and gives nice FAT bass. The tonal range on nylon strings is very interesting. The staff member dug in with some Flamenco and it was loud! I asked about their return policy and bought the guitar. Since then I have some concerns;

CONCERN 1. The intonation is a little weird, but maybe just the way things are on Nylon(???). Where as the B string seems to cause a lot of problems on steel string, the G string seems to be the issue on nylon string. The 12 fret intonation is fine, as good as most recordings. There are some weird points in the first few frets. However the nut height seems correct. While pressing at the 3rd fret, the string JUST clears the 1st fret. I can't get parts of an E major chord to sound in tune. The major 3rd on the G string just sounds off. Does this have to do with Nylon string physics and/or a cheaper guitar?? When I play the classic Romance d'Amour, the first bar of the 2nd part (after the switch to E major) sounds out of tune. It is the area with the chord below in tab. However may other portions sound quite nice using various 3 note chords shapes on the treble strings. It's just a hair sharp as you near the 12th fret on the high E, but I'm talking 3 cents here. I could intonate it if I wanted to.

Chord in tab;
4
0
1
X
X
0

CONCERN 2. This is a very inexpensive guitar at $400 CDN ($310 USD) and I have to ask... why??? Almansa has other laminated B/S guitars that are $1000 more. Where did they cut out that much cost. I worry about the neck with no truss rod. I worry about the guitar's stability going forward in general. I had a cheaper guitar WITH a truss rod have the neck twist a but once. Made lower action impossible. The G string is quite "tubby" and it's a brand new set. Next to the long sustain and different tone of the D string, it stands out at times. I also realize that it will have next to no resale value. Best to move on??

In closing... I am quite prepared to spend up to $2000 to get something that I can play for years. Something that an intermediate to a pro would be happy on. I am willing to wait until spring now and order something after it warms up. I won't order from out of country at this point shipping, taxes and government get annoying. But we have some good stores here in Canada. Any brands or models that I should look to??

I have read many positives about De Cascia guitars, with extremely few negatives. In fact, I am quite taken with the Milana with it's smaller cutaway http://www.decasciaguitars.com/product/milan-cedar-top/. Should I be concerned about the brace-less arched back??? I have found some increased pain on the forearm now that I am trying for proper technique, thus the armrest looks nice. I have limitted experience with sound ports, but I like them. It provides a stereo like element. It can also be plugged (cool). There is NO WAY I put have that barn door on there though!! It can be ordered without it. I love cutaways. Their raised fretboard Sylvia offers greater access, but not for the whole hand. I want to get fully in their for certain pieces I have written. Just can't do it on non-cutaway. Although I'm not stuck on needing a cutaway.

Any more feedback on De Cascia would be greatly appreciated. The very first appearance of the brand on AGF was in the "New to Nylon" thread I referenced at the start of this thread (Thanks 47gene!!)

Romance d'Amour in case it's not well known (his intonation is worse than the Almansa I have!)

Last edited by Carbonius; 11-27-2017 at 01:48 PM.
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Old 11-27-2017, 02:59 PM
dosland dosland is offline
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Your experience with nut width preference and flat fingerboard preference is pretty common for people who are new to nylon - the expectation is that a 'much' wider nut and a flat fretboard will feel like a cricket bat, but the reality is that, given the size of the strings and the lower tension, a lot of people won't experience a huge and distressing difference. Personally, I never even thought about (or knew about?) different nut widths or fretboard radii until I started putzing around on the internet 12 years after I started playing guitars. I had an electric and a classical and an acoustic-electric and gave and took lessons on some of them and never once thought about nuts and radii. So na´ve... I DID think about intonation and fret buzz, so those are things I tried to deal with in all sorts of aways. I have played quite a few Almansa guitars (about 8 years ago, though), and I thought they were fine instruments all around. The finish details were sometimes inconsistent - a flaw in the finish here or there, some sloppiness on the inside (I don't care at all about that), the occasional blemish - but overall, well-built, pleasant instruments to play. I don't consider a truss-rod or lack thereof to be a deal-breaker in the nylon world, especially in the budget range (which is where I live). But if you're looking at spending up to $2K CDN, I think you should be able to find a fantastic Cordoba or Alhambra or even Almansa for that kind of money. The Cordoba, at least, will have a truss-rod. I don't think Alhambras usually have them, but they almost all have an ebony reinforcement down the neck, which may count for something. I think the student/studio/concert Almansas will also have a neck reinforcement.

The intonation on the instrument you're looking at may be a bit wonky, but it may also be that you're hearing minute differences due to different finger pressures and string tensions, especially if the overall intonation at 12 is pretty close to correct. Left (and right, but especially left) hand technique has to be oh-so-precise on a classical guitar to get everything to go correctly. Fret too hard you pull sharp. Fret too soft you buzz. Improper position, you pull sharp. Play too fast they slap your wrist (that's not really the guitar's fault, at least). I think the fat strings and the lower tension introduce a lot more room for error than on steelies.

A few nylon guitars that I've played have a 'dramatically' compensated saddle to deal with the g-issue that you've noted. I'm incompetent, but I still make my own saddles for my guitars, because even though I can barely play, I imagine it matters somehow. I just bought a yamaha cs40 and I'm going to put a handmade bone saddle in that sometime before Christmas. Incidentally, for NZ $170, this thing plays like a champ!

Other things before I go back to work: Spanish classicals and those built in their tradition tend to be lighter.

Bass strings tend to be 'easy' on a classical - it's getting the trebles and the mids to really ring out forever and ever that seems to take a lot more building nous. Someone else will know more about this than I do, but that has been my experience.

Good luck in your search, my gut feeling would be to return the Almansa you bought right now, if you have the cash on hand to go for significantly higher grade instrument and you're ready to spend - no sense keeping the 'cheapo' unless you're going to give it a few good years, in my view.
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Old 12-01-2017, 10:40 AM
Carbonius Carbonius is offline
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I forgot to reply dosland, thanks. I just recalled your words last night as I encountered this pressure issue when playing some pieces. I literally tuned the fretted notes and it was still a hair out. Then I pressed as lightly as possible and all was fine. I had no idea how delicate the strings were to pressure. I have a long ways to go, but I'm liking it.

Thanks again!
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