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Ziricote and Sapelli in artisan guitars

Traditionally, artisan classical guitars were made of Palo Santo.

However, artisan flamenco guitars were made of cypress, and later, of Palo Santo.

Since the time in which Torres established the canons of the Spanish guitar, the instrument, the classical as well as the flamenco guitar, has undergone a constant evolution.

In his artisan guitars, Torres was already using Palo Santo from Brazil, a hard wood which is easy to bend, in order to develop the sounding board. Back then, other woods were also used such as the fir tree.

Curiously, in the Antonio Torres’ researches, he built a guitar using a papier-mâché body; the guitar sounded and its aim was to isolate the task of the harmonic bars, which were his real innovation. This is one way to eliminate, as much as possible, the role of the sides and back in order to determine the effect of the distribution of the harmonic bars.

Sometimes we talk about this topic and it is common to say that the only important part of the guitar is the cover, because Torres made a papier-mâché guitar. This is not true because the interaction between the cover and the sides is very important in terms of vibrations.

Nowadays, finding artisan guitars with bodies (back and sides) made of Palo Santo is really common. Mainly, we can identify two types of Palo Santo:

Indian Palo Santo: The price is lower than the Brazilian one. It is a very hard wood but it’s not difficult to work on, because it can be bent easily, but especially and most importantly, it dries well. The artisan guitars are made of this kind of wood by the best luthiers.

Palo Santo of River: It is also known as Brazilian Palo Santo, but mostly as Jacaranda. It is a very decorative wood and paler than the Indian one. It has the same properties as the Indian Palo Santo, but it is more beautiful aesthetically, and as a consequence, it’s more demanded. The best artisan guitars are made of it.

In addition, there are other types of Palo Santo, which are used for the manufacture of the artisan guitars, such as Madagascar, Honduras or Amazon, among others.

Due to the scarcity of quality materials, the Ziricote has been introduced from the Central America; and the Sapelli, or mahogany, from Africa.

Regarding the Sapelli, it is a wood which offers: a consistent finish, with a half of the density of the Brazilian Palo Santo approximately; a beautiful aesthetic; a good sound projection on the instrument; and an excellent quality-price ratio. The Sapelli is a wood which can be found in the 7C Classic model of Alhambra Guitarras.

The Ziricote is a green wood with dark streaks, which provides of attractiveness the instrument, due to the so marked contrasts reflected on its streaks.

In Alhambra Guitarras, you can find the ‘Iberia Ziricote’ model and the ‘Luthier Anniversary’ model with sides and back of solid Ziricote.

Regarding the artisan flamenco guitars, wood of cypress tree was used; specifically the Aranjuez cypress was the most famous material in the XX century. Later, Palo Santo was introduced, creating the ‘Black Flamenco Guitar’, which was used by the great Paco de Lucía.

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