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Best Gifts For The Classical Guitarist
Ramirez Cedar Top Guitar
Ever Wanted To Know What Would Make An Ideal Gift For A Classical Guitarist?
If you have a Classical Guitarist in your family, or a budding one, there are certain gifts that are items that they are always going to need. However a word of caution is necessary here. There are a lot of personal preferences that come into play; so I will go through a list of the items that make good gifts, and give you tips on how to find out which brands and the other information that will help you to make the right choices.
No one wants to buy a gift only to have the recipient react coldly, or worse cruelly, that it is not the right type, brand, tension etc.So I am going to give you some ideas and list my personal favourites, but as always with personal gifts try to get as much information as you can about the players practices and preferences before you buy.
The picture shown here for example is of a Ramirez 125 year anniversary guitar it is usually sold for around $3,000 but can be found for less if you search hard enough, but you would not want to spend that unless you were 100% certain that it was the guitar that your loved one aspired to, and even then it is important to know whether they prefer spruce or cedar tops.
There are other things too, for example they may find in practice after trying an instrument that a different maker and type of wood may actually suit their playing style better. I am going to try to unravel the mystery and help you to make the right choices.
My photographs for this lens are courtesy of Amazon, where I am an affiliate so if you buy from the lens I will benefit. I will not let this influence my recommendations and advice.
Ramirez George Harrison Guitar
Things You Should Know About Guitars
All guitars have a unique sound of their own and this will gradually develop over time as they age. In general guitars are not as long lived as violins, they reach their peak sound at about 20 years of age, but this will vary based on the types of wood used, the style of the instrument and how much it is used. A fine instrument will also need to be kept with a humidifier to ensure that it stays in prime condition. Being made of natural materials every instrument, even those made by the same luthier will be subtly and slightly different.
The best string for the guitar (once chosen) will be the one that gives the best tone, in the opinion of the player; although he or she may be better advised to ask their audience. The general rule is that you will usually get what you pay for, but within that there are subtleties that the player may or may not be bothered with. The strings will generally produce a better sound if they are uniform in diameter and of a tension that matches the way the luthier built the instrument. For example a low tension or soft string gives a lower softer tone than a medium or high tension, as the tension increases the tone gets brighter, but may lose some of the subtle overtones, that some players may want. It is due to these variations that even the most experienced players often experiment with different strings.
The woods used in the guitar serve different purposes, the top or face is resonant so it needs to be of a softer wood that will vibrate and project the sound (like a loudspeaker). The back is made of a harder wood, mahogany or rose wood are often used, this is more reflective so that the sound is reflected back through the sound hole, and on to the audience. The bracing of the guitar is made of woods that give stiffness where it is required, and that maintain the flexibility of the top or front so that the guitar projects its voice. Some modern guitars are being made with lighter grade tops and bracing in between a second top, this gives a deeper richer sound, that may be preferred.
It is generally thought that hand made guitars made by skilled and experienced luthiers are the best. There are however some extremely well made factory built guitars such as the Yamaha's that are made of hand selected woods by computerized machines, in the end they are often as good, but at a lower price, as some of the hand made items. Often the differences are such that only the most refined ear could actually detect the differences. The best guitarists do still tend to get their guitars built to match their personal preference, but some of the top off the shelf items are just as good to all intents and purposes.
Since the guitar is the most expensive and personal choice I do not suggest you buy one as a gift unless you have been told specifically which one, and that you are happy to make a gift of that amount to your loved player.
Nemanja Ostojic Classical Guitarist
Things The Classical Guitarist Needs
1. His instrument - make sure you are in full agreement with the player if you buy this.
2. Strings these vary in tension and material (nylon, carbon fiber, gut) - Make sure you know which he/she uses if you are to buy.
3. Music Stand - These can be metal or wood and vary greatly so make sure you know their desires.
4. Metronome - Used for practice to get rhythm correct, can be mechanical or electronic, some are decorative.
5. Electronic Tuner - These can be large hand held units or small and subtle so they can be attached just above the fret board.
6. Footstool - Goes under the left foot (usual playing stance) can be metal or wood and should be adjustable in height to suit chair used, etc.
7. Stool or Chair - This needs to be matched in height to the player and footstool used.
8. Music to play - This should be annotated for the guitar - It will usually have fingering and suggested fretting if it is guitar, and be all treble clef.
Picture Nermanja Ostojic - Courtesy Indiana University
Ramirez Great Guitars On Amazon
Ramirez Guitars are accepted to be amongst the finest ever built, and I think anyone wanting one of these will be more than satisfied with the purchase.
Spruce tops start out much lighter than cedar, and generally take a little longer to develop their full tonal range, they also are more likely in the long run to have a broader range of tones. Choosing the right sound for you is a matter of personal preference. Many professional guitarists have both and use them for different pieces as they find the tonal qualities more suitable to their taste and the feel of the piece.
This is a special issue for the 130 year anniversary of the Ramirez company and therefore is of great value. The woods having been specially selected to create a worthy instrument for their customers to celebrate with them. The model shown is cedar, it is also available with a spruce top.
Ramirez Anniversary Guitars
These guitars are based on the 4e model and are specially made on the larger anniversaries of the Ramirez company. They are offered at an amazing price for helping their loyal customers celebrate with them.
This was a special issue for the 125 year anniversary of the Ramirez company and was considered to be one of the best guitars they ever produced. The model shown has a spruce top and is also available with cedar.
Foot Stools For Classical Guitar on Amazon
Footstools are used to support the Classical Guitarists left foot at the right height to assume the correct classical playing position. Most are adjustable in height to allow them to be used with different chairs, and for guitarists of varying heights. They make reasonably priced gifts for the Classical Guitarists in your life.
The wood finish and adjust-ability make this a very attractive footstool. Rosewood is also very durable and long lived.
Everyday Working Footstools
The most popular foot stools are made of metal and are more durable for carrying in travel bags to performances, and lessons etc.
This is an all metal footstool like the one that I use and I have had mine for about 20 years now and it is still going strong!
Cheaper Foot Stool Suitable For Beginner
You may have no intention of touring and traveling the world. If this is the case a lighter grade foot stool such as this may be suitable.
This is another metal footstool and suitable for the busy traveling musician. It is important to have equipment that will take the strain of traveling.
Guitarists Chairs on Amazon
In order to play the Classical Guitar the guitarist needs a chair or stool that will allow him to assume the correct playing position. The Photograph in the Guitarists needs section above illustrates the classical playing position. These chairs and stools would all be suitable, and would make good gifts.
This type of chair is favoured by most of the top Classical Guitarists. This is because it sits you in the right position and is adjustable too.
Some Musicians Prefer A Stool
Traditionally Classical Guitarists use a chair, however for those that prefer them you can also get musicians stools.
This is the type of stool preferred by rock and country musicians. Most Classical players do not use them as there is no back support. However they work well and may be more to your preference. The supporting ring can be used as a footrest.
Classical Guitar Strings On Amazon
Guitar Strings are a great gift and within the price range of most givers, just ensure that you know the players personal preference at least in terms of tension. The hand made guitars will often not be built to take high tension strings, and never ever put steel strings on a classical guitar, they will not take the higher tension.
These are all strings that I have used and will give excellent results and value for the money. There are many more strings available from Amazon and I recommend any from Savarez, D'addario or Augustine for Classical Guitars. Of course Ramirez's own strings are excellent too.
D'Addario's most popular professional grade nylon strings. I like their long lasting sound tones and playability. I often use these strings. This is a 3 pack which is better value.
Augustine Strings The Original Nylon String Maker
Augustine make particularly good guitar strings and were the choice of Andre Segovia. As well as being one of my favorite strings.
The red label strings have a higher tension and are a little brighter in sound on my guitar than the blues. Remember to try a lot of different strings until you find the ones best suited to you.
Music Stands from Amazon
Any serious Classical Guitarist will learn to sight read so that they do not have to memorise every tune that they could play. This skill allows them to play with orchestras and anyone that has the sheet music for the piece they want played. These are all well made stands that any Classical Guitarist would be happy to use. They are a necessity until the piece has been committed to memory.
This stand is similar to the one I use. Mine is over 20 now and I am not sure who made it anymore. So this one is both light and strong enough to tour with. I like the fact it is height adjustable in two place.
Most Classical Guitarists learn to play by sight reading and become quite good at it. This skill is worth developing as over time you may want to play with orchestra's etc. Being able to sight read well makes you able to play anything anytime with anybody. This is not possible if you learn everything by ear. Playing by ear means you need to understand music theory and play a part to fit with the key or just remember all the music you ever want to play. That is no mean task!
This is a basic fold-able stand and suitable for most purposes, but fairly light weight.
Guitar Tuners From Amazon
Tuners are the quickest and easiest way of ensuring that the guitar is in tune before playing that important gig.They are reasonably priced and are far more accurate than most people's ears, because of this they make great gifts for your Classical Guitarist.
Korg are a solid manufacturer of quality tuners and this one can be used for a lead or Classical Guitar as well as for the Bass.
For those that do not like the large tuners they now make small models that can be clipped to the guitars head stock.
For those who lose things there are tuners that attach to the headstock of your guitar. This way you will always have it with you!
Metronomes from Amazon
The metronome is essential if you ever want to learn to keep to the beat. Traditionally they have a bell that sounds on the first beat of the bar. The musician has to try to start on the bell and remain on it for every bar of the music.
This is a traditional style metronome like the one I learned with. Mine was actually a Yamaha, but looks very like this.
Spotlight On What I Consider To Be The Best Value Gift
Due to the value offered and their amazing tone. This is what I consider to be the best value guitar gift overall.
Best Value Guitar to Give as a Gift
This Guitar is widely getting recognition as being in the league of guitars by the better known big brands such as Ramirez, and yet it is much cheaper to buy. This appears to be due to the name not being as recognised yet.
My Personal Choice In Strings
Augustine make fine guitar strings and have been my favorite brand for some time. Strings are personal and you should choose a brand after trying several as the tone produced varies by guitar and the players style. Choose the string that sounds best to you on your guitar. The general rule is the higher the tension the brighter the sound. Do not use steel strings on a classical guitar as you will likely pull your bridge off.
Some classical guitars are made to sound best with normal or even low tension strings sometimes using high tension will void any warranty. Always check the manufacturers guidelines, before changing the tension of the strings you use.
My Personal Favourite Strings
It is hard for guitarists and others to find a truly great string and this is one of the best.
A Little Known Fact
D'Addario student strings are not just for beginners the name was chosen to distinguish their original strings from the more modern ones they now make. Student strings sound great and cost less, because they have been making them longer.
Best Value Strings
These are a quality string suitable for all purposes they were actually the original D'Addario string and are called student only to distinguish them from today's newer strings they come at a great price!
The Best Gift For All Serious Musicians Is Music!
The Hardest Thing For a Musician Is To Find Music Properly Transcribed For Their Instrument Download It From Here!
A great gift that you do not need to worry about if it is what they want or not is an annual subscription to the biggest on-line provider of downloadable sheet music. There is music for all instruments and all occasions and it is correctly transcribed for each instrument. Buy this and your player can download all the music they ever wanted!
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Virtual Sheet Music® - Download high quality sheet music, MIDI and Mp3 files. Classical sheet music and more. Piano, violin, all instruments music scores. Accompaniment files also available.