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  #1  
Old 07-26-2012, 07:48 PM
steve s steve s is offline
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Default What is a folk guitar?

Can someone define a folk guitar for me? From the pictures I've seen, they seem to have a body intermediate between a dreadnought and parlor or classic, and often look to have a skinny neck. Is that it? I grew up on folk music (Joan Baez, etc.) but never gave much thought to special guitar needs. Thinking about potential travel guitars got me wondering.

Thanks!
Steve
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:02 PM
HHP HHP is offline
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Look at a Martin 00, that covers most of it.
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:07 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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It's a vague term, and can sometimes be applied to nylon string acoustic guitars as well as steel strings. Some guitar companies, like Seagull, use it to designate specific models, like this Seagull Folk model:



Others use it to describe, as you've already noted, any smallish to mid-sized guitar. I've heard some people describe the 000-42 I use onstage as a "folk guitar," and I suppose that's as accurate a description as any.

Given how vague a term it is overall, I don't think having a skinny neck is a requirement, because I've also heard the Martin New Yorker model referred to as a folk guitar, and as you can see it's got a pretty wide neck:



Personally, I would call a Martin New Yorker a parlor guitar, but as you can see it's a very elastic definition, depending on who's using it.

Then there are these oddball late 50's/early 60's Gibson F-25 Folk Model guitars, which had wide necks, flamenco tap plates and - if I remember correctly - could be strung with steel, silk and steel or ball end nylon strings:



(Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember these Gibsons with the white tap plates also sometimes being strung with nylon strings...)

Anyway, short version: a "folk" guitar is a small to mid-sized acoustic guitar. Where any given instrument might fall within those loose boundaries will tend to be in the eye of the beholder.

Not a hard and fast definition, I know, but that's about as specific as anyone seems to get with the term.

Hope this helps.


Wade Hampton Miller
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:20 PM
Opa John Opa John is offline
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And then Yamaha comes along with their FG700S, FG720S and FG730S. The FG supposedly stands for "Folk Guitar". These won't even fit into a standard dreadnought case since the lower bouts measure fully 16 1/4" wide.

So, my definition of a folk guitar is any guitar that the user plays folk music on.
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:34 PM
AZLiberty AZLiberty is offline
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When I think "folk Guitar" I think of something roughly the size of a Guild F-20 Troubadour.

However, during the "great folk scare" of the 60's folkies played on everything from 0 size to Jumbos.
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:36 PM
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jgmaute jgmaute is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve s View Post
Can someone define a folk guitar for me? From the pictures I've seen, they seem to have a body intermediate between a dreadnought and parlor or classic, and often look to have a skinny neck. Is that it? I grew up on folk music (Joan Baez, etc.) but never gave much thought to special guitar needs. Thinking about potential travel guitars got me wondering.

Thanks!
Steve
Steve I'm an old folkie from the 60s and really pretty much any acoustic guitar played at that time was considered a folk guitar. Martin made a 00-18G that was a gut/nylon string guitar they called folk, Joan Baez played a Martin 0-45, Richie Havens played a big Guild, Judy Collins a Martin D-28, Buffy Sainte-Marie played Ovations, Martins, Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul and Mary played a dred (Martin I think), Paul played a nylon stringed guitar...so as you can tell it was all over the place, still is if you look at what folks are playing now.

In terms of a travel guitar, I highly recomment the Voyage Air, I've had a Little Martin and Washburn Traveler but they just didn't work for me. I love my Voyage Air, as a matter of fact I just got back from playing an open mike with it, checking out the new pickup I had put in before my next trip.

Hope this helps, joan
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:44 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AZLiberty View Post
When I think "folk Guitar" I think of something roughly the size of a Guild F-20 Troubadour.

However, during the "great folk scare" of the 60's folkies played on everything from 0 size to Jumbos.
And speaking of the "great folk scare" of the early 1960's, let's not forget the Swedish-made Goya folk guitars that my older sister and legions of other earnest folk singers of the era used to accompany themselves:







These occupied the same market niche - that of an affordable, good-sounding, very playable import guitar - that Yamaha took over a few years later.


whm
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:54 PM
MissouriPicker MissouriPicker is offline
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Yep, it kind of depends on what kind of guitar you want to play folk music on. They all work. It's up to you. Dylan, the personification of "folk singer,' has used all sizes of Gibsons, Martins, Fenders. Cash sang far more folk songs than he did Country Western. He usually played Martin D35s, D28s, but in the first 4-5 years he played his folk songs on Gibson J200s Super Jumbos. Play what comfortable for you.
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Old 07-26-2012, 09:04 PM
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Some may quibble with me, but I also think it came to mean a smallish guitar toward the lower end of the expense scale. You know, accessible for "folks." I wouldn't consider the Baez 0-45 a "folk" guitar by any means.
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Old 07-26-2012, 10:25 PM
JoeCharter JoeCharter is offline
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And the French from France call any steel string a "folk" guitar.
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  #11  
Old 07-27-2012, 01:44 AM
FormerFoodie FormerFoodie is offline
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A folk guitar is a machine that kills fascists. :P

OK, had to insert the Woodie Guthrie reference. Back to your original programming...
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Old 07-27-2012, 03:55 AM
geordie geordie is offline
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Folk - "from the German expression Volk, in the sense of "the people as a whole"

I play 'Folk' music, I write tunes and play traditional tunes for family, friends and on occasions when asked for my community. It is not necessary for me to contribute what I have to offer on a professional or commercial basis.
This is a (my) folk guitar -


some definitions -

Any style of music which represents a community and can be sung/played by people who may or may not actually be trained musicians, using the instruments available to them.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folk_music
"Folk music includes both traditional music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th century folk revival. The term originated in the 19th century but is often applied to music that is older than that. Certain types of folk music are also called world music."
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  #13  
Old 07-27-2012, 04:05 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FormerFoodie View Post
A folk guitar is a machine that kills fascists. :P

OK, had to insert the Woodie Guthrie reference. Back to your original programming...
Let's provide a visual reference or two with that, shall we?



I'm pretty sure that's the first version, and this one came later:



Here's a Warhol-esque take on the idea:



And last but not least, here's Pete Seeger's banjo, with his continuation and refinement of the idea:



For those of you who don't want to crane your necks trying to read it, that says: "This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender."

When Howard Klepper built that exquisite black walnut Klepper KJ guitar for me last year, I wanted him to emblazon the words "This machine surrounds Junebugs and forces them to work for minimum wage" on the top, but I couldn't get him enthused about the idea...


Wade Hampton "Of COURSE That Really Happened" Miller
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  #14  
Old 07-27-2012, 10:02 AM
grampa grampa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
It's a vague term, and can sometimes be applied to nylon string acoustic guitars as well as steel strings. Some guitar companies, like Seagull, use it to designate specific models, like this Seagull Folk model:



Others use it to describe, as you've already noted, any smallish to mid-sized guitar. I've heard some people describe the 000-42 I use onstage as a "folk guitar," and I suppose that's as accurate a description as any.

Given how vague a term it is overall, I don't think having a skinny neck is a requirement, because I've also heard the Martin New Yorker model referred to as a folk guitar, and as you can see it's got a pretty wide neck:



Personally, I would call a Martin New Yorker a parlor guitar, but as you can see it's a very elastic definition, depending on who's using it.

Then there are these oddball late 50's/early 60's Gibson F-25 Folk Model guitars, which had wide necks, flamenco tap plates and - if I remember correctly - could be strung with steel, silk and steel or ball end nylon strings:



(Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember these Gibsons with the white tap plates also sometimes being strung with nylon strings...)

Anyway, short version: a "folk" guitar is a small to mid-sized acoustic guitar. Where any given instrument might fall within those loose boundaries will tend to be in the eye of the beholder.

Not a hard and fast definition, I know, but that's about as specific as anyone seems to get with the term.

Hope this helps.


Wade Hampton Miller
I have one of those F-25s, great guitar. I suppose you could string it with nylon strings as you could with any steel stringer but why? It's made as a steel stringer and nylon strings on any steel string guitar would have very little sound. Maybe because it has a wide neck like a classical guitar that some might think of using nylon strings. But it is a steel stringer and mine is fabulous.
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  #15  
Old 07-27-2012, 10:04 AM
grampa grampa is offline
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What about Dylan's Strat that is the news lately. That is a "folk" guitar.
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