What are the differences between classical and flamenco guitars?

The differences between classical and flamenco guitars are prevalent in materials, construction and sound.

Materials: Classical guitars are generally made with spruce or cedar tops and rosewood or mahogany backs and sides to enhance sustain. Flamenco guitars are generally made with spruce tops and cypress or sycamore for the backs and sides to enhance volume.

Construction: The body of classical guitars is generally deeper and the woods are slightly thicker. Flamenco guitars have a flat or negative (before string tension) neck relief, making the action very fast at the cost of some buzzing. The strings are also closer to the body on flamenco guitars to facilitate tapping. Flamenco guitars often bear a “golpeador”, which is a sheet of plastic mounted to the face of the guitar to protect its finish.

Sound: The classical guitar is designed to give the soloist the tools to perform poly-timbral music: “An orchestra in a box”. The attack is soft with a longer and gradual decay. The flamenco guitar is designed to cut through the sound of dancers stomping their feet. The sound is a bit more percussive, a loud sonic burst followed by a swift decay.

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