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Restring classical guitar to practice in Gaspar Sanz's tuning?

Hi folks!  I'm contemplating learning baroque guitar.  I played classical guitar many years ago, and still have it, but have been working on (modern) mandolin for the last couple years.  Cut my nails for that, so I'm all in ;-)  I started ukelele a few weeks ago, as a cheap proxy (found out that uke == single-strung Renaissance guitar, fun!) and to learn campanella style. 

I've been thinking about restringing five courses of my classical guitar to Gaspar Sanz's tuning, single-strung.  I want to practice with that tuning for a while first, before I open up my wallet again (got a nice custom mandolin earlier this year) for a real baroque guitar.  Would that be at all worthwhile?  If so, what strings should I use?  It's not a fancy guitar and it's pretty heavy, so I think it could take just about any tensions.  I was even thinking of buying trebles and downtuning, but is there a better way?

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It will feel very different, but I believe it would give you an approximate idea. While the sound is not going to be exactly as in the baroque guitar, Campanelas are going to be much better... many things that look like an arpeggio are actually a scale passage and you will notice by stringing the guitar that way.

If I were going to do that, I would use the normal e and g strings for the high d and a strings. Maybe a medium/low tension nylon G for the A and a high/medium nylon for the d to keep in all strings more or less the same tension as before . This way, you will have five nylon strings on your guitar. In any case, less tension will be safer.

Good luck.

Thanks for your reply!  I might have been wrong by calling this "Sanz's tuning" -- I meant the tuning that Monica Hall in her essay "The Stringing of the Five-Course Guitar" lists first and calls the "re-entrant tuning."  Anyway, it looks like you knew what I meant, so thanks :-)

Thanks also for explaining about the tensions.  It should feel a lot better to match them up by using a lower tension for the A (tuned up) and a higher tension for the d (tuned down).  I play mandolin and would never change those steel strings without eye protection, so I can appreciate the value of safety :-) 

Do you have a recommendation for a brand of strings?  I like the uke's Aquila nylgut so I was thinking of getting the classical guitar version of those.

I'm excited to try this out!  I know it won't sound the same, but at least it will get me playing that old guitar again.  It needs new strings anyway ;-)

I had a large supply of leftover trebles in two different tensions, so I tried it out last night.  Unfortunately  the bridge (cheap plastic) was cracked and didn't take the tension.  I'll have to improvise a bridge until I can get a new one.  No worries, though!

I improvised a bridge out of cardboard.  It works well enough to play.  I sight-read some Sanz off his original tabs.  Figured out that they were upside down and that "x" mean 10 (found it next to a 9).  Fun times :-)  Thanks all!

I did the same thing about a year ago, while i was waiting for my baroque guitar to be built. The above observations are spot on. the notes will be right, so that is a plus, but it doesn't sound or feel like a baroque guitar. but its a quick easy way to play while you wait for the luthier to finish your guitar

I'm glad I'm not _completely_ insane ;-)  I improvised a bridge out of a piece of cardboard.  It somehow works but I'll need a better improvised bridge, perhaps a piece of wood or plastic.  I can definitely hear that a real baroque guitar would sound better -- the body is expecting bass but getting treble ;-)  but it's a way to try out the tuning.  Thanks!

This guy actually bore holes and added strings to make some of the courses double.  


Thanks for the tip!  I'm not at all handy with power tools, but I might ask a local luthier to help out. 


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