The Old Guitar Ensemble School

The Guitar Orchestra - what is it?

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1st Movement - Theme

In this section we'll meet the Guitar Orchestra


This lecture © Derek Hasted 1999 - please enjoy!



In this modern world, it's becoming increasingly difficult to agree on what exactly a particular word of phrase means. I'd like to define a few words and phrases before we get into the nitty-gritty.

Guitar Orchestra instruments? I can hear the question from here! Read on....

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What is a Guitar Orchestra?

I'm convinced that a Guitar Ensemble is an excellent way to make music.

Look at the advantages.... .

But what is a Guitar Orchestra?

In the same way that a Brass Band, or a String Quartet or a Recorder Consort gets a full and rich sound by incorporating different sizes of the same basic instrument, so a Guitar Orchestra comprises guitars both smaller and larger than the normal Classical Guitar.

What advantages do Guitar Orchestras give us?

But there are disadvantages too... .

Clearly there is some mileage in being confident within a normal Guitar Ensemble before venturing into an area where the rewards are higher, but so are the stakes!

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What are the Orchestra Instruments?

And here is where we reach the first pot of ointment and the first fly....

Permit me to speak in generalities.

There are two common types of Guitar Orchestra, that which might be termed Mexican, and that which might be termed Japanese. It's perhaps an oversimplification, but it's important to start trying to have a first cut at distinguishing the wood from the trees or we shall disappear in a forest of definitions!

The Mexican Orchestra contains

Note that the bass instrument has two different names, the former of which is about to confuse us when we read on.

The Japanese Orchestra, pioneered by Dr Niibori, models itself on the string, brass and saxophone families, and contains

There is also a Soprano or Piccolo Guitar, an octave up, but it is seldom featured in the bulk of the Niibori-compatible Orchestra music.

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Meet The Instruments

What do they look like?

The most striking thing about Guitar Orchestra instruments is that they are all essentially built in proportion, meaning that they look just like guitars.... The Requinto, showing its slight different origins, often has a cutaway on the upper bout like a Jazz Guitar, which allows the player to reach even higher with ease. The Japanese instruments, on the other hand, have been designed to fit with the Prime Guitar as part of a unified family.

Photo of Bass Guitar and Alto Guitar with Classical alongside

Avril (Classical - 650mm) : Geoff (B Bass - 700mm) : Elaine (Alto - 530mm)

What are these measurements?

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