In the ever evolving set up for that ultimate tone I have stumbled across a set up that I actually like quite a bit. Its my DeVoe guitars Blanca and Negra, with a Shure KSM 141 Mic (bass rolled off) or the DPA 4099G Mic (which is nice in that I don’t need a mic stand), Mackie ProFX 8 (number 8 verb@12 noon) eq. on mic pre flat, graphic eq a few frequencies tamed (see pic) QSC K 8 Speaker and Powered amp in one 1000watt package at 28 Lbs.
There is a bit about nails in the forum. I am not super picky about nails. I tend to play with my nails pretty long compared to most players. I make them rounded to mimic the shape of the fingertip. I use a combination of 5 second Nail Glue and Acrylic Nail Powder to make my own acrylic nails. My natural nails were very weak to begin with so there was no real loss there. Acrylic nails are bad if you want to ever use natural nails. I have tried many other products, but have always gone back to the 5 second stuff for convenience and reliability. The other important thing to consider about nail shape is keeping them smooth underneath where the string actually makes contact. I use a normal 4 in 1 file and move from coarse to fine when shaping.
I’m soon going to try a new live set up that will use Midi. I will also try using this in the studio. It will be a Godin Grand Concert SA, Fishman Aura Nylon, Roland VG8, Roland GI-20, Korg Trition Rack, Spectronics Omnisphere, Trillian and Stylus RMX, with Apples Mac Book Pro 17in and Mainstage. This will run into a live board.
How To Learn And Master Flamenco
I would like to talk about an aspect of learning that is easily overlooked in today’s fast paced world: Patience and methodology.
In a world of instant everything, mobile texting, email, drive-through, microwaveable mash potatoes, etc, our expectation of the world around and what we believe it should provide us with is ever more immediate. If our computer stalls for 5 extra seconds we start to get annoyed and antsy.
If we carry these emotional attitudes into our learning process we are doomed to suffer frustration and our minds will stall more than 5 seconds, we can enter a cycle of endless impatience and dissatisfaction with our selves and our process.
How can we avoid that and how does this apply to learning flamenco?
First of all, to assume that because things change so quickly around us and therefore we should be able to do the same is counter productive and will set you up for failure in your own mind.
Every one has a different capacity of absorbing information, both mentally and physically. Skills that are worthwhile and complex simply take time and we should feel gratitude that we have the opportunity to be exposed to it and are able learn it.
Learning is one thing and absorbing and assimilating a new skill until you feel you own it, is another. That is where patience comes in. Just because we know how some thing should go doesn’t mean we are totally capable of doing it – yet. This is the crucial period where it’s make or break. Here are some strategies that are useful:
Honesty: Be honest with your self and your true ability and your current level. That doesn’t mean to be self deprecating nor unrealistic about your actual level.
Time: Realize that the body (your fingers in our case) take time to program information into our nervous system and cells. Our bodies are filled with so much intelligence but it needs time to be absorbed.
For a skill such as scales (picado) arpeggio, resgueado etc, to be ingrained into our second nature habit we must first embrace whole heartedly the journey of what that process may demand from us. It is during this trial period that we forge our character ( musical and otherwise) and start to build our mental muscles. If we can’t find a way to fall in love with the process then patience will be hard to achieve.
Strategies: Create a strategy of building on small successes. Whenever we sit down to practice and decide to work on either a skill such as scales, tremolo or a hard passage, we tend to want to solve the whole problem after one practice session. We want 100% improvement. How unrealistic. If it happens, then great, I’m not saying it can’t but don’t expect it.
But if we go for a 5% improvement at the end of the practice session and actually feel good about achieving it, we are creating little cycles of success, which in turn build our confidence and faith in our selves.
We many times feel more heroic when we fail at some thing difficult rather than succeed at some thing easy. But that is just our unrealistic ego wanting to get the better of us. It’s good to be ambitious, it’s better to be smart and strategic about how to go about it.
Imagine day after day a 5% improvement, now that sounds hopeful.
Simplify: If we spend too much time playing things too high above our level we will get impatient and frustrated. We must first accept our level and be happy about the place that we’re at this moment. If we turn our focus on mastering things that are at our level and or little bits of passages at a time, we will be able to absorb things faster and more effectively.
Mastery: Don’t just practice pieces or skills, practice Mastery, by taking a certain period in your life to just doing very easy things or in a very slow and easy way. We some times think that if some thing feels too easy then it has little value, so we attempt to play faster than we can without control or pieces that are too hard right now. Mastery can only come with the feeling of ease and relaxation. There can be no struggle in Mastery. By playing easy things really well for a while we are practicing the Feeling of Mastery not just the piece it’s self.
Finally, think of music as a journey of your own bliss. Don’t think of it as some thing to achieve. There is nothing to achieve only a process to enjoy. If you get too goal oriented you’re missing the point. Discipline must come from the love you have for the instrument and the music.
Today there are more people on the planet than ever, and yes, that includes musicians. Now, in the past, access to knowledge and information was hard to come by, but today you find anything on any subject on YouTube and Google and almost any one can have that access.
That means that at some point the big ‘achievement’ isn’t just in knowing how to do some thing ( you and ten thousand other guitarists…) but rather how are you going to enjoy this new knowledge and how are you going to use it in your ongoing creative process and make it your own.
Flying With Your Instrument? What You Need to Know.
November 21, 2006
There are important questions you should ask yourself when traveling with a musical instrument; “Will they let me on the plane with it or do I need to check it?”
You should also be wondering, “Will the instrument get there in one piece or in tiny chunks? And if the instrument is smashed to bits who pays for the damage?”
In answering these questions, the Transportation Security Administration offer a particular set of requirements. The airlines must meet TSA standards, but they have additional rules of their own. And each airline will likely have slightly different policy regarding what is covered regarding damage or loss–and what is not covered.
TSA guidelines state you have the option of checking or carrying on musical instruments–with the exception of brass instruments (which must be checked). Other instruments, within carry-on sizes, can be taken through security and onto the plane.
TSA rules allow you to carry one musical instrument in addition to your carry-on and a personal item (a small handbag, for instance) through the security checkpoint. This does NOT, mean your airline will allow this additional item on the plane. Each airline will likely have different policy regarding this “extra” carry-on. In fact, you may find that the airline personnel will bend the airlines rules depending on how full the flight is or what kind of mood they are in that day.
According to American Airlines, small musical instruments can be carried on if they fit in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you (in this last case it is hard to imagine an instrument bigger than a piccolo that would fit under an airline seat). The instrument cannot exceed 45 linear inches, except guitars. They may be stowed in the overhead bins or other approved areas of the cabin).
TSA officers must either x-ray or physically screen an instrument before you take it on the plane. If you cannot take it on the plane you have two options–buy it a seat or check it.
Checked instruments not in hard-sided cases are considered “at-your-own-risk”. If an instrument is damaged but the case does not have visible damage, you could be out of luck.
American Airlines policy states “..due to their fragile nature AA does not accept liability for damages and limited liability for loss.”. This last part is what should give you pause. If they lose an expensive piece of gear they tell you, up front, that they are not paying for all of it.
Policies differ from one airline to another. Your ticket will have a list of items not covered, as will the airline website.
“If checked and lost we will cover it but normal considerations apply.” says Alison Eshelman, a spokeswoman for Jet Blue.
Among these considerations, no doubt, are Federal and International laws/agreements over liability for lost luggage. Federal law places a cap of $2,500 per passenger for lost baggage. International law limits this to $9.07 per pound for checked bags and $400 per person for unchecked bags.
In other words if you have gear that is worth more than $2,500 do not bring it on an airline or if you do get outside insurance (and don’t get it from the airline).
Jet Blue’s policies otherwise state that they will pay to repair an instrument that is damaged if the case is damaged (although they assume no liability for the case itself).
The case must be an ATA rated case before any airline will cover it. But what is considered an ATA-rated case? “There are various guidelines to make it a rated case.” says Kathy Galbraith, media manager for SKB cases in California.
One part of this is that the case is determined to be able to withstand 100 trips by air. There must be bumper protection on the locks and latching system. On SKB cases there are moulded bumpers that surround the latches. You also need to have a lock that the TSA can open to inspect the contents of the case.
“Not a whole lot of musical instrument cases are bumper protected,” says Galbraith. “Because of the shapes of the instruments.” SKB have one model 18 RW that are for acoustic guitars and another, 44 RW which are for bass guitars. They also have cases for mixers and the like.
Another company that manufacture travel cases is Des Plaines, IL based, R&R Cases. If you play a stand up bass you may also want to take note. American, for one, does not allow them in the coach cabin and only accepts them on certain types of aircraft.
There is also the issue of what to do when checking an instrument. It WILL be taken out of the case and inspected most likely. The TSA website says that you should stay with your instrument to make sure it is repacked properly. TSA admits that this may not be possible.
“Each airport is different,” says Christopher White, a spokesman for TSA in Atlanta. “In some cases we check baggage in the public area in others in a security area.”
If you cannot be with your instrument the TSA encourage musicians to include short written instructions on how to repack the instrument. It’s important to write the instructions so they are clear enough for a non-musician to understand.
“We do take every care to replace instruments properly.” says White.
That may be comforting to some, but more comforting is traveling armed with the knowledge of exactly what your liabilities and responsiblities are with regard to your gear. The more you know before boarding the plane, the less hassle you’ll experience in the event you find your equipment is damaged in transit.
To find out more about TSA regulations on musical instruments. For more on SKG travel cases For more on R&R Cases
by Patrick Ogle, Gearwire feature writer.
Kay 1940s Upright Bass: Scott Bomar’s Bass Is Both Well-Loved And Well-Cared-For
Was up in NYC today and I picked up hafe a dozen sets of Luthier Set 30′s for bass strings and Titanium trebles. I also picked up a Barcus-Berry True Expression “The Outsider” Piezo Guitar Transducer to try on the DeVoe for large performances. I also picked up a Paco De Lucia cd con Ramon de Algeciras. played a few guitars as well, DeVoe 1964 and a Perice 2009. Oh I picked up the wifes Christmas presents as well. Nice day in NYC.
Mukava is a armrest for acoustic guitars. Get a better sound and feel more comfortable and relax while playing your guitar.
Was able to find one on the other side of the pond, in Europe so I ordered one of these as well today. Will post more after I have tired it out.
Update looks very nice, very easy to install, comfortable as well.
A pic of the Mukava from a top view on the DeVoe.
Looking at the side from the rear view
The Mukava just in my hand.
Just ordered one of the last The “Rasgueo-Rest” that are available. I am very glad that I was able to find one. After my lesson with Titio Rubio today it was apparent that due to my long arms I would need either a larger guitar or some device that would put my arm back a few inches so I would be able to play with my finger tips striking the string near the rosette. This looks like it will fit the DeVoe and may be the answer. Will post more when I receive it and get to try it out
The “Rasgueo-Rest” (patent-pending), is an ergonomically designed, adjustable guitar arm rest that will help you to get the most out of your practice and performance time.
The clean lines and transparent design of this arm rest will not compete with, or detract from the beauty of your Guitar’s fine wood. The light-weight construction material is visually non-obtrusive and durable.
Extended Guitar playing hours can become uncomfortable, and cause possible physical damage to the players arm and posture. Your playing time will be more enjoyable, and can be extended using the comfortable support and rounded contour of the Rasgueo-Rest.
This presents an elegant solution to the discomfort that Guitar players often experience from resting their arm on the sharp top edge of the Acoustic Guitar.
The Rasgueo-Rest is light-weight, and will not make your Guitar top-heavy, or change the balance of the instrument. Total weight is only approximately 10 oz. . . If you keep your instrument on a stand, you can leave the support on indefinitely, with no damage to the wood finish. It is easy to remove.
The Rasgueo-Rest RV-9 protects the Guitar’s finish from wear and perspiration damage, besides saving you wear & tear on your arm!It does not touch any area of the sound board, and so your guitar tone is not effected. You may actually discover that the Guitar tone is clarified, because the sound board is no longer dampened with your arm. Your arm and clothing are kept away from the soundboard, promoting full sonic resonance and projection of sound.
For large and tall players, the Rasgueo-Rest provides the additional height-support needed to play in a comfortable posture.The total surface-support area of the guitar is in effect, expanded, so that you do not need to hunch over to find the right playing position. When you get comfortable, playing is just more productive and fun.Model RV-9: $75.00. This fixed height design gives you an arm rest with slight flex, approx 3 inches above your guitar’s top edge. Size: approximately 7″ x 4″ x 2.5 “. It is designed with a smooth ergonomic curve to cushion and support your fore-arm or upper arm, depending on your playing position and size
Today is my birthday and a wonderful friend of mine out in CA sent me this guitar kit to build my own Flamenco Cypress Blanca Guitar. Little did Charlene know what she has gotten me into. I am amazed at what luthiers do with wood. My guitar luthier Lester DeVoe made the guitar in the below picture. It amazes me how you can take wood like in the first picture and in the hands of the right person you can create beautiful instruments like the Lester DeVoe makes. Well Im on a journey to see what I can do. I think it may work whether it sounds good and looks good well we will have to see. This is really a cool gift. Im excited about building my first guitar. I thinks guitars just look and sound beautiful.
This is the guitar kit from LMI
This is my Favorite guitar a Lester DeVoe 2008 Flamenco Negra made of Madagascar Rosewood.
Today my Kremona-Bulgaria Ltd. Professional Piezo Pick-Up for Classical Guitar came. I put it on the Lester DeVoe Flameco Guitar. It took about 2 min to put it on. No frilling cutting. Just slip under the strings by the bridge. Tighten them again and you good to go. I hooked it up to the Trace Elliot Acoustic Rack Pre Piezo input and it worked great.
Update on the Gitano Support for guitar on the DeVoe. Felt to uncomfortable with suction cups on the DeVoe so I have removed them and polished the side of the guitar. I do like the position that the Support holds the guitar but on expensive guitars Im not comfortable with things that may leave marks etc. For me the DeVoe is the best guitar that I own and do not want to take any chances with it. I did use the King On Suction Cups material as well. Well the DeVoe is just Madagascar Rosewood now with no suction cups.
Thats Lester DeVoe, in his wonderful shop holding up my Flamenco Negra Madagascar Rosewood Guitar that he made for me. Its almost a year old.
Put the Gitano on my DeVoe. Im a bit worried about the suction cups making rigs/ marks on the side of the guitar. However my back feels much better when I can keep both feet on the ground and not use a foot rest. Will see how I feel about this in a week or two. I also ordered a EFEL Guitar Support yesterday.
I’m hoping to win this today on eBay. I have been looking for one of these for years. This is a great accoustic guitar rack pre amp. Yea I did win this tonight. I also just found out that it looks like Trace Elliot was picked up by Peavy and Peavy will start making the Trace Elliot Acoustic line of amps again such as the TA 100, 200, 400. So I ordered a TShirt and Bag.
**Update** I spoke with the seller and it’s on its way. Hope its hear by the weekend. Will put it through the test on Sat.
**Update** 8.5.09 The Trace Elliot Acoustic Pre Amp has arrived and sounds great.
I have been working on a new fingering of the rumba strum that Rapheal Brunn has been showing me to use when I play the rumba. This little snippet has three different strum patterns and a 3 finger rasgado at the end. Im getting their maybe in 20 years Ill be playing right. Kathy recorded this on the iPhone 3Gs this am.
Vicente Amigo Paseo do Gracia I can’t wait to listen to this. I hope my copy comes soon. Tomorrow its released in USA
Since he published his first album in 1991, Vicente Amigo has been considered one of the great minds of the flamenco guitar and his career has progressed continually until the release of the much awaited “Paseo de Gracia”, marking the creative summit for the Andalusian artist. “I felt like I was growing as a musician, finding new ways of expression”, says Vicente Amigo about “Paseo de Gracia”. “I have let my imagination fly and my hopes and my music with it, and what can be listened to is part of me “
Amor de nadie
The tracks that opens “Paseo de Gracia” has a rumba-tango rhythm, with the vocals of Niña Pastori and the magnificent balance that the drummer Tino di Geraldo and the bassist Antonio Ramos has accustomed us to.
With the voice of Enrique Morente and the guitar of Vicente Amigo as backbone of a long, deep, serious and vertical track. It’snearly nine minutes of beautiful music, where the guitar shows its imagination and inventiveness in the instrumental development that are an original brand. “I have had the roots of Autorretrato for a while but I hadn’t developed them, they are a reflection of my experiences” says the guitar player.
Bolero del amigo
This is a serene track, featuring Vicente Amigo discovering some details of himself on the electric guitar, very well orchestrated with violins and mandolins. “The bolero melody – well that’s how I call it anyway – is very interesting. It develops very naturally but it isn’t easy to manage. You have to find the harmony, it’s like maths, you have to find the way to order the notes”, says the guitar player. “I picked up the electric guitar as an experiment, it’s a musician thing. I liked the experience, to be a chameleon in a territory that isn’t yours, with that Metheny or Benson thing”.
Azules y corinto
Track dedicated to the bullfighter Manzanares junior. The vocals are by Rafael de Utrera and Nani Cortés and have a bulería vive with Vicente Amigo showing an exceptional sense of rhythm
Y será verdad
With the collaboration of Enrique Morente, Alejandro Sanz(“Enrique said he is singing more flamenco than ever “, said the guitar player smiling) and Pedro Heredia on vocals. An exquisite, undulating and sinuous rumba in half time on which the drums by Tino di Geraldo give it a bright and southern pop sound, accompanied by the percussion of another great Paquito González, that also run through the whole album.
Luz de la sombra
Another bulería with Vicente Amigo’s special perspective with the vocalists Miguel Ortega and José Parra to give character. An essential, naked and complex track, with a full on Vicente Amigo.
Paseo de Gracia
Track that gives its name to the album. Offers another great balance between high calibre flamenco and a poppy beat on an instrumental tango-rumba that’s all frills. A demonstration of how a simple melody can be developed and branch out to fantasy, seeming always new and original.
This is the greatest thing on the album. Agile, dynamic and rumbeado, Vicente Amigo once again demonstrated his talent with the electric guitar Pat Metheny style, while the violin is Grappelliesque that gives it both a modern and old style flavour.
And to finish off, Estrella Morente appears to take hold of this long tango that is incredibly elegant and delicate. “Estrella was going to do another track, but she didn’t like it. I showed her a few ideas and when Enrique Morente Heard these tangos he said immediately: this would be great for Estrella”, says Vicente Amigo. A final gem for a brilliant, open, and subtle album that’s going to be a huge hit.
I was thinking about the brighter crisper sound of the Blanca guitars yesterday. They are the flamenco guitars that are traditionally made with Spanish Cypress. I remembered that my buddy Charlene helped me get a 1965 Flamenco guitar that I found while on my Honeymoon in 2007 while passing through Santa Cruz CA. While the guitar is old and has a few cracks it just sounds magically warm. It’s a 1965 Miguel Company no. 70 Series Flamenco Guitar with friction pegs. I took it out yesterday and decided its time for it to get fixed and be back to life. I love the way this guitar sounds (its the one on the left in the picture) and the fact it’s the same age as me is cool too. I wish I could get fixed up too or I’d settle for shedding a few pounds. Well, hears a pic of the guitar next to the 2008 DeVoe hopefully in 2010 I will be getting a DeVoe Blanca.
Here are the observations of four guitarists dealing with what it takes to learn to play the flamenco guitar.
by Paco Sevilla
RODRIGO ON LEARNING TO PLAY THE FLAMENCO GUITAR
|Rodrigo, who unfortunately passed away abruptly at a young age in 1996, had some unique and helpful insights into one approach to learning flamenco. And he certainly had the qualifications. As a teenager in California, he was obsessed with learning to accompany the cante, using recordings of Melchor de Marchena and Manuel Morao as his models. When he went to Spain he was able to accompany anything thrown at him. He chose Ronda as his home base, which, in spite of that city being off the beaten path of flamenco, turned out to be a wise decision. As the only guitarist around, he was soon much in demand among the local singers, both amateur and professional. During a two-year period he devoted thousands of hours to accompanying singers in all-night parties, gypsy fiestas, small clubs, and peñas. He appeared in small town contests ofcante, where he would accompany up to fifteen singers in a single night. He spent an additional year in the Málaga area accompanying gypsy rumba singers in bars, or in the pubs of Torremolinos. He worked in a tablaoin Nerja with the dancer Caraestaca, and in the tablao once owned by La Repompa de Málaga. He lived in Algeciras, supported by the local peña, which had him accompany their singers every night. Then he worked in a tablao in La Linea. Finally, he began to appear in festivals, accompanying such popular figures as El Turronero and Curro Lucena. With Curro Lucena he cut a record for the Belter label. Only then did he return to the USA with his Spanish wife and begin to focus on solo playing. Here’s what he had to say about learning flamenco (although he refers to an era somewhat different from today, I think there is still some relevance for today’s aspiring flamencos):
“It all depends on what you want to study. For singing, I can’t really comment on that. It is something that happens to our vocal cords when we are little. They develop in a certain way. There has to be a reason why only Andalusian people can sing flamenco. Germans, French, Italians, Americans can all sing opera in Italian, but the only people in the world who can sing flamenco are certain people from Andalucía. It might be a plumber, an ice-cream vendor, whoever—they’ll sing you a fandango that no one in the world can sing. It makes you wonder whether soleares might be more difficult than what Pavarotti sings! So for the singing I don’t know. There have been some Americans who have tried, but I think it is basically a language thing.
“As far as dancing goes, the opportunities seem to be great. You can study in Madrid. If you get good enough, there are all kinds of foreign people working in tablaos. American or Japanese people who are learning how to dance have opportunities that are much better than what the best dancers in flamenco history had. Carmen Amaya—who taught her? As they say, she watched the waves rolling in at the beach. In those days people didn’t go in and study for two or three years with a maestro like you can do nowadays. They say El Farruco was dancing on the banks of the river when he was ten years old! Who the hell taught him?
“Either you’ve got it or you don’t. If you’ve got it, you’ll get it, you will learn itcAnd if you really want to learn it, you will eventually find a way to get good at it. And you will suffer the way I did to get to work in atablao. You’ll do it for free and every day you will get better. And if you don’t give up, some day you will be a good dancer. It doesn’t work like some people say, eI’ll go to Spain for two months and I’ll get to be a good dancer.’ No, even the good people there have had to struggle to get a steady job and to keep it. The last time we were in Spain, just before coming home, dancers in the tablaos were being paid 400 pesetas [about $6], much less than they were being paid ten years ago—and those are the really good people who know how to dance!
“As for the guitar, I think my advice is just like with the singing or dancing: If you want to learn to do flamenco the right way then plan on at least a good ten years of learning it little by little. That will give you plenty of time to learn it. After those ten years you’ll be playing flamenco. You’ll pick up some in the States, pick up some in Spain, at parties, get a job, and little by little it will all take form. But our mentality is to go buy a book and in six months you think you are doing it. No, it takes a good ten or fifteen years to get it all together, maybe even twenty years to put all the pieces together. If you live in Spain for a while, you’ll pick it up. A lesson here and there, practice, listen to recordings, and you’ll get it all together, you’ll learn it. There is no quick method.
“Here is what I am going to do with my two sons if they want to play the guitar. Before they get into anything, I’ll have them learn to accompany old-style records. I’ll have them learn how to imitate Melchor de Marchena or Diego del Gastor and people like that, and teach them how to accompany La Fernanda. After that they can learn from El Camarón and get ready for whatever else might happen. But you shouldn’t begin with Camarón because you’ll have missed the whole thing. You have to start from day one, from the beginning of flamencocthat’s the only way you’ll learn how to play. You see, Paco de Lucía knows how. He can sit down andcI’m sure that one day he played tientos like Manolo de Badajoz with La Niña de los Peines. He didn’t sit down and start playing Paco de Lucía falsetas when he was five years old! You have to begin with the old style and learn the compás and then work your way up. Anybody who starts with Paco de Lucía, or the Habichuelas, or someone like that will have missed a lot, because all of these new styles of playing are throwing out a lot of it, are skipping a lot of the old compás. But they know it’s there because they knew how to play it when they were little. That’s why they are able to play and understand the new so well.
“You go to Spain and you get off the plane and you are in Málaga and you walk into a bar with your guitar. You know, you could go into a bar—there are certain barrios where you can go in with your guitar and start playing if it’s not too late at night. You might get a couple of people to sing for you. And they’ll invite you over for dinner. Then you’ll get two more people to sing. That’s the way to start, that’s what I would do. I would go into a small bar in Sevilla or Málaga, pick up my guitar and start playing. I might get kicked out, or I might meet somebody who could sing and he’d take me over to his house where I’d meet another person, and another person, and then years later I might be a good flamenco player. I would have had a lot of jobs, and I would know how to accompany everything, and I would have lived in Spain as a Spaniard would, and I might even become a great flamenco player. That’s how to do it.
SABICAS ON LEARNING TO PLAY THE FLAMENCO GUITAR
(From an interview by El Niño Chileno; Jaleo, April 1981)
[Sabicas was asked to elaborate on his statement that in order to be a good soloist you must first accompany dancers for twenty years and singers for another twenty. Many top guitarists have supported the essence of this assertion, from Juan Habichuela and Paco de Lucía to Tomatito and Vicente Amigo. Here is how Sabicas explained it.]
“The flamenco guitar, as I said on one of my records, represents three careers in one. The way it used to be, the guitarist never rehearsed with the dancer. If she told him, for example, to play epor alegrías,’ he could do it with his back to her if they each knew what needed to be done. Nowadays, dancing is very different. Now they tell you, here you do a falseta, here you end, and so on. That makes it different. So, your first career is playing in a cuadro flamenco for twenty years, for everyone who dances—naturally, without rehearsing! Singing may be even more difficult. You have to emeasure’ the singer’s voice, to determine at what speed he sings. There are some who sing slowly, and if you play too fast he will drown—and vice versa. You have to play exactly the way each person sings; this is very difficult. And then, of course, [when you play solo] you must play correctly, epor derecho” as we say. Each one of these phases takes twenty years. Now, there are some who take less than sixty years and think they can do it in thirty or fifteen. And there are those who play well for thecante but not for the baile, or well for the baile but not for the cante. There are those who are corto [have a small repertoire] or largo [have a larger repertoire]. To be complete and well rounded, however, is very difficult. To know all there is to know in the flamenco guitar is very difficult indeed.
“You must go to Spain. That is where it is, and you must immerse yourself in it. Otherwise, you may have good fingers, good technique, but to play the true flamenco, in compás, you must go to Spain. There is no other way. For anything that has to do with flamenco you must go to Spain and get into a good cuadro for two, three, four, or five years. In that way you can become a good artist and have the knowledge you need. Otherwise it is very hard, and I do not think you can ever make your mark.
“There are some muchachos who play very well, but as I said, without the ambiente it is very difficult. Without ambiente you cannot do flamenco. A guitarist by himself, playing only what he wants, may have the fingers and the talent, but alone he cannot do it. He needs the ambiente, the palmas, the singing and dancing. Every single day. That helps very much. Nevertheless, one must admire their dedication because it is really admirable. There are some who go to Spain. They want to work, even for free. The same for the Japanese. They go to Spain and they get into a cuadro flamenco. They want no money. They just want to learn. That is really admirable.
[You must practice]cas much as possible. The more the better. Nowadays, the way things are in the world, one does not have enough time. Normally, though, two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening should be enough, but no less than that. And you must do everything. You cannot do just one thing, because you will improve on that but the rest will suffer. You should do fifteen minutes of picado, tremolo fifteen minutes, arpeggios another fifteen minutes, thumb work another fifteen minutes. After one hour, then you should go over whatever you think you need. But never practice one thing more than others unless you have fallen behind on that. If everything is equally good, then fifteen minutes to half an hour of each should be sufficient.
“There are some guitarists who have constant fingernail problems. They break them often, and not necessarily from playing too much. I just do not know why. Maybe it is the way they strum or tap. There are others who use their fingernails too much while playing. That is not good technique, because they do not play with seguridad or strength. The fingernail should be as short as possible, almost at the level of the flesh, maybe just slightly longer. That is enough. You will have more security and perhaps your nails will not break as often.”
PRACTICE AND PICADOS
(Miguel Ángel Cortés is from Granada (born 1972) and the younger brother of well-known guitarist Paco Cortés; he has won awards in competition, has been accompanist for Mariquilla, Manolete, El Güito, and Carmen Linares, and he has an album, Patriarca; he was interviewed for the Spring 1997 issue of The Journal of Flamenco by Giovanni Ricciulli)
When I am on tour I don’t have time to study because of contacts with people, rehearsals, and the changes of routine. But if I am in Granada and I have to study seriously, say for a contest, I can spend a couple of months practicing for eight to ten hours each day. Under normal conditions I only study two or three hours in the morning and three or four hours in the afternoon. Then I go outside for a stroll.
Many guitarists strive to improve their picados by forcing their hand flat along the guitar top because they have seen Paco do it. It becomes somewhat of an obsession. When I was younger it caused me many problems, too, trying to force myself into that position. Fortunately, the advice of maestros such as Sabicas made me realize that if it isn’t the natural way of holding the hand, then copying Paco is a foolish thing to do.
I keep my fingers straight. My brother does, too. In fact, many guitarists keep their fingers straight and achieve speed. Take Marote. Aren’t his picados fast and powerful? Yet he kept his fingers straight because he felt natural that way.
My best advice is that the picados must be done without arrastrar [dragging the fingers from string to string]. You must alternate fingers when you switch strings. Otherwise scales will turn out messy and irregular.
|GUITAR TECHNIQUE TODAY|
(from: “Honored Traditions: Progressive Directions,” an interview with Pedro Cortés, hijo, by Greg Case in The Journal of Flamenco Artistry, Fall 1996)
“Technically, the flamenco guitar is probably the most complex in the world today. In flamenco it used to be that even mediocre guitarists could play [professionally]. Today, if you are mediocre you really cannot play. Today, to be able to play and survive you can’t just do a couple of rasgueados here and a couple of alzapúas there and get away with it. You just can’t. Today you must have the technique to play and there is nothing you can do to get around it.
“Some people who take flamenco as a hobby don’t realize how sophisticated it has become. To play well takes time and dedication. You can learn, but it takes dedication. It’s not sitting home for a half an hour practicing a rasgueado or a simple paso de bulerías or sevillanas for a dance class. Anything really advanced requires a lot more and it won’t happen without practice. If you want to play flamenco you can do it, but you have to dedicate the time and work hard at it. If you can understand something easily and play it fairly easily, that’s really cool and you accept it because you can do it. But if you are dealing with Paco de Lucía’s complex, intricate technical harmonies, then you won’t like them as much if you can’t play them in two seconds. You’ll have to spend precious hours really listening and learning them, and if you don’t understand them you won’t be able to play them and you are not going to like them. You’ve got to work! And that goes for all of us. Chuscales gets up at eight in the morning, picks up the guitar and starts practicing. And if I don’t pick up the guitar for two days, I won’t be able to play like I want to. No way! With experience you can invent ways of getting around without practicing, but your chops won’t be there. You simply have to dedicate the time.
“Today’s flamenco guitar generation takes for granted that practicing ten or fifteen hours a day is required just to be able to play. The next generation will probably lay down a minimum standard of technique like Paco de Lucia’s. When today’s kids become young men, playing with Paco’s technique and knowledge of harmony will probably be nothing unusualcFlamenco has become a very highly sophisticated art form, whether you want to admit it or not. I’m not saying it is necessarily evolving for the better. It may even be evolving for the worse. But for better or worse it has gone from a tiny little space where it was performed for a few to where it is presented on the most renowned and prestigious stages in the world.”
When I was visting with Jason McGuire and working on writing a song. He was showing me how he composes, at the end of our time he showed me his Fishman Solo Amp, he showed it to me with his set up as well as just my Shure KSM 141 mic and gutiar and it sounded great. I think it was much better than the Bose L1. Hope to get one of these in the near future.
Portable and Powerful
Designed for the singer/songwriter, SoloAmp provides exceptional sound quality and coverage in a wide variety of venues. 220Watts of clean, lightweight power drives a line array of six custom high-excursion speakers and a soft dome tweeter. This unique combination delivers incredibly full sound, ultra-wide dispersion, and deeper sonic penetration than the common speaker cabinet. Better yet, the enhanced bass response of the custom-designed speakers means there’s no need for a subwoofer!
It’s a P.A., and an Amp.
With SoloAmp, the performer and audience hear exactly the same sound, meaning there’s no need for separate wedge monitors or a combo amp backline. And because SoloAmp is voiced for the singer/songwriter, acoustic instruments and vocals are projected with superb depth and clarity.
The Ultimate in Portability
SoloAmp weighs only 25lbs*, ships complete with a padded bag equipped with wheels, and includes a rugged speaker stand. Set up takes less than a minute, with only one trip to the car! And full-digital universal power means SoloAmp is ready to travel anywhere in the world.
Features Performing Musicians Demand
Fishman didn’t make SoloAmp this portable by scaling back on features or tone. In fact, they’ve included all of the award-winning elements of the Loudbox family, and added a unique Monitor feature designed to revolutionize an acoustic duo’s ability to hear each other on stage. SoloAmp is also equipped with two mic/instrument channels featuring high-quality preamps, each with 3-band EQ, phantom power, built-in reverb, effects loop, and feedback-fighting notch filter and phase controls.
Compact Line Array = Ultra wide horizontal dispersion & deeper sound penetration
Two Mic/Instrument Channels
- High-quality preamps
- 3-band EQ
- Phantom Power
- Independent Reverb level
- Effect Loop
- Feedback-fighting Phase and Notch filters
- Six 4′ mid-woofers, patented dual gap, high excursion design, neodymium magnets (200W)
- One 1′ neodymium soft dome tweeter with level control (20W)
Auxiliary Stereo Input with Level control
Four Digital Reverb effects with master level
Balanced XLR D.I. outputs for both channels and main mix
Unique Monitor I/O for improved on-stage ensemble monitoring
Mute with remote footswitch input
Ships with Stand and padded Carry Bag (w/ wheels)
Dimensions: 41.5′ H x 5.6′ W x 6.6′ D
*Weight: 25 lbs without Stand, 35lbs with Bag and Stand
I was in Palo Alto and visited the Gryphon String Instruments http://www.gryphon.us 650-493-2131 and picked up a Kremona Professional Piezo Pick Up for Classical Guitar. I played it through my Native Instruments on my Mac and ran it into Logic Pro 8 and it sounded pretty good. Will test it with some amps this week. I may have found a live solution. The guys at Gryphon said this is something new and not really on the market yet. What is great is that it installs in minutes no cutting on the guitar and is in no way permeant. Great for all of us who do not want to drill or cut our guitars.
Update 4.4.11 I have had some issues with the pick up input jack and the overall tone has diminished. I am no longer using this pickup due to unreliability. I have talked with a few others that have found the same thing to happen over a relatively short time. For me personally I have decided that I will have two ways of thinking when playing out live. One will be my real good guitars the DeVoe’s with a mic like the DPA 4099 G or Shure KSM 141, and then for small outdoor events, bars, cafes places with kids I will use a Cordoba F7 with the DTar pickup and mic. For small events I will run things into the Roland BA 330 and for large events up to 1500 people I will use the Carvin Sound System.
Professional Piezo Pick-up for Classical Guitar!!! This is the best way to play and enjoy your Classical or Flamenco guitar throughout amplifier. You don’t have to make any wholes or anything to you guitar. 1. Just loosen the strings and slide the pick-up through the strings loops on the tight bar. 2. Tighten strings and retune. 3. Plug in to amplifier’s high impendence input. 4. Enjoy! check them out at
Last night Kathy and I went to see Al DiMeola in Sellersville PA and what a show it was. Only two songs on the electric the rest were on nylon string guitar with a bit of synth on the songs. The band had two drummers, another rhythm guitar player, bass and accordion. The guy who played accordion was just fabulous. It was a great show and it was nice to say hi to Al at the end of the show. I think the last time I said hi to him was in 1984 at some class down by the Jersey shore at a music store.