Early Guitars and Vihuela

A network for historic guitars and vihuelas

I've noticed a few people trying to bring in the modern classical guitar to this site, and it's something I gave a lot of thought to before setting it up. I'm no longer an administrator here, so it's up to those who are to set the agenda. My reason for having a cut-off point of Torres, is that I didn't want this to become yet another classical guitar site. Performances of Dowland or Bach on a modern classical guitar, while often being worthwhile, are not what I had in mind. Even Sor on a modern classical sounds odd to my ears. The internet allows niche gatherings, and not every site has to be all inclusive.

However, there are many of us who also play modern classical guitar, myself included. Where can we go? Well, the biggest forum is the Delcamp one, but I and others have left there or been banned due to the obsessive and aggressive policing by over-zealous Stasi, sorry, administrators. I have recently joined this site: http://classicalguitarforum.net, itself only a couple of months old. At the moment it is very quiet, but if enough people join it might establish itself. I hope to see some of you over there.

That aside, I'm wondering what members here think of THIS site? What could be improved? Pros and Cons? Should we open up to the modern classical guitar? We have close to 900 members, but only 20 or so seem to be actively participating. 

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As You mention it Rob there are already sites for the modern guitar, so I personally dont think that we should open up for the classical guitar. Regarding improvements I have no suggestions at this moment. I think it's a very nice site.

I also agree that we should keep this to pre-Torres guitars, for the reasons you state.  I think the site is just fine, so long as it's easy enough for the administrators to maintain.  The only thing I miss is the ability to add recordings that are not videos, but if I have anything I want to share I can post to SoundCloud or some other site, and announce it here.  No problem.

As for active/passive participation, I would not spend to much time worrying about the 880 or so members who don't seem to be active.  Quite often a "passive" review of recent activity is valuable enough!

Thanks for the tip about the modern CG forum...

I joined this site specifically because the cut-off date was Torres. My main interest is 19th century guitars and I do play modern instruments but I don't feel there is any need to have them included here. Those folks have plenty of sites available to them.


I belong to the other site (Delcamp) mentioned above (been censured once but not banned yet so I'm squeeking by with "playing nice"...so far!) [and just joined the other], but I would really hate to see here some of the obcessive discussions found there.  "Nails vs No Nails", "X brand" better than "Y brand"?, do classical guitarists get more chicks than other instrumentalists, the wardrobe malfunctions of an un-named superb female guitarist and other equally tiresome discussions.


I like this site as it is although it would be nice if there were more membership involvement on a day to day or weekly basis.


One "trick" (a couple actually) that delcamp has which I think leads to more membership involvement, is a minimum number of postings is required to maintain membership. It's a modest number but I think it has the desired effect of getting people "in the habit" of being involved from the moment of signing on. The second thing is there are several levels of access to things like scores, lessons etc which are opened to the individual based on number of postings. Of course some folks abuse the system and post inane or meaningless verbiage just to run up the tally in order to gain access to the material/service they desire. But it does get folks involved and more often than not (I have noticed) they have something to offer once they abandon their goal of "enough" posts and embrace worthwhile discussion.


I'm not suggesting that this forum adopt those tactics but humans, being what they are, occassionally need reasons for doing an action other than just "because it's there". And often "forced involvement" has the side benefit of allowing the timid folks time to become more comfortable, to know they will not be ridiculed if they say something and to feel more a part of the group. However, someone more psychologically creative than I will have to suggest ideas which might entice more of our membership to step up and participate. 







I dearly hope this site doesn't get into status measured by number of posting, and access granted by status.  This is precisely why I don't participate in the delcamp site...  Because I'm not allowed.  I don't always have the time to participate, and I can go for months on end without even having the chance to look in on this site.  If this site were run like delcamp, then I would not be allowed in.  Maybe not a great loss to you, but it would be a loss to me.

I don't think it ever will ever go that way, Chris. Besides, we need you!

"I'm not suggesting that this forum adopt those tactics..."



Lawdy no!...don't copy that other site, it drives me nuts more often than not...

I only mentioned the tactic as an idea that works elsewhere, a stimulus to get ideas flowing. Many a time I log on to this site and see that there are new folks joining up. Very often that is the one and only time I see their name amongst the postings. I know everyone has their reason(s) for not being directly involved with a forum, project or what have you but it makes me wonder if there isn't some way to get the new folks involved from the start. A way to allow them to quickly grow comfortable, part of the group and realize that a great bunch of supportive people with a world of knowledge hang out here.


I like the idea of keeping the pre-Torres cutoff.  Ample other places for the mainstream CG crowd to gather.  I was fuzzy on the ground-rules myself initially, not sure if it applied to the MUSIC or the INSTRUMENT, but I got it sorted out fairly quickly with no harm done.  So that might be the only suggestion, to make sure newcomers as myself really understand that "Sor on a Smallman" or "Milan on a Hauser" isn't what this is all about.  

That DOES beg one question, of the acceptability of quasi-period instruments, e.g. there's a 640mm metal-fretted "Bream-style" lute on eBay right now.  Or what of the German wandervogel guit-lutes? 

I owned one about 15 years ago, built c. 1920 in Germany.  Hideous beast; the scalloped frets were a nightmare and the action past first position was quite high.  I sold it for next to nothing at a renaissance faire to some guy who wanted it as a costume-piece.  Personally I thought his curvaceous companion was quite a sufficient costume accessory already, but he wanted the lutar too. 

Dear Hans,

Indeed - a number of us have speculated on the origin of the wandervogel lute/guitar and I've suggested it was a development of the late 18th century mandora which by 1780 was increasingly being pitched in  nominal E (like a guitar) and, of course, has the same intervals as the guitar (third between 2nd and 3rd strings).  Molitor doesn't actually describe the wandervogel lute/guitar but in fact speaks of a meeting with one of the last mandora players in Vienna who told him that he now used single strings instead of the double courses hitherto found on the mandora since he found it easier to tune! (I've suggested that the mandora player was Zincke who was still writing for the mandora in the first decade of the 19th century). 

Thus the use of single strings on the mandora may well have been the model for later newly-made lute-guitars. Incidentally I don't think we should confuse 20th century newly made lute-guitars with 19th century ones: the earlier instruments seem more lightly constructed almost like a lute.


Gentlemen, can one of you start a new thread for this interesting topic? 

Very amusing - perhaps not intentionally, but I'm not sure that Molitor would be very grateful for this effort!

Incidentally, we do know what he actually looked like.....


Dear Rob,

I think generally your instincts, to focus on the earlier instrument and repertoire, are right. However I also think it may be prudent to make exclusion criteria more related to instrument style rather than a specific date.  What I mean is that by excluding post-Torres discussion (roughly after 1850 I guess) we largely exclude instruments like the 10 course 'bass-guitar' increasingly widely used by mid-late 19th century (non-Spanish) guitarists. Probably the most famous maker of these instruments is Scherzer who was trained in Stauffer's workshop thus providing a real continuity.

What is also interesting about these instruments is that the pieces written for them (by such as Mertz, Decker-Schenk, Dubez, Padovetz, Gardana, Bayer, et al) seem to me more of an extension of the 6 string guitar repertoire (the great Mertz of course wrote for both) rather than the indigeneous 'folk' repertoire more popular in Spain at the time (eg as found in works by Arcas, Broca, Ferrer and the like). It's interesting (well at least I think so!) that the 'bass-guitar' continued to be played (especially in Germany) up to the First World War and from photos the technique looks closer to earlier 19th century styles than the new Spanish technique .......



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