I wanted to hear the guitar in a lower register this Lovely 10 string guitar i got second hand from The York guitar Study centre and so it begins.

Bellido 10 string classical guitar

I was looking at ways to create the sounds I wanted to hear. I experimented with the lute but while I liked the sound a lot it did not have the sound I needed.

On the advice of Adrian Ingram I discovered Egberto Gismonti and Lenny Breau. It was here that I heard players who were expanding the range of the guitar to suit their own music. The Brazilian Gismonti played a 10 string guitar and Lenny Breau played a seven string.

I started to look for a ten string guitar. Fortunately I saw a second hand Bellido so I immediately started to negotiate my soul over it. I wanted to have one extra top sting and 3 extra bass strings however I could not find a string manufacturer who made such a string ,so on the advice of Adrian Ingram I made a beeline to a fishing shop! He had read that both Gismonti an Lenny Breau both used fishing line for the top string so I got a spool of 20lb line and tuned it to a top A but it kept breaking so i went back to the reular tuning with an extra low string

The tuning from high to low is D,E,A,B,E,A,D,G,B,E. I use Hannabach 10 string sets. Their low strings easily cope with the low notes and the balance and response is excellent. I found the transition from 6 to 10 string a slow progression. The meat and potatoes of my playing is in the regular guitar register, but adding bass notes and bass voicings add a dramatic element to the music.

I play and sing, so this made things very interesting! I was considering having a dentist mirror attached to my mike stand or possibly wing mirrors on the monitors! It is no coincidence that at this point in my life I started to go grey and wear stronger glasses!

The top of the guitar is Cedar, the back is Indian Rosewood, the fingerboard is ebony and the neck is Cedar. The guitar sounded fine acoustically however I needed to amplify it. I contacted Andy Manson as he is one of the finest acoustic guitar luthiers in the world and he suggested a Fishman Matrix transducer and a Mike Vanden microphone on an arm. I find that the Fishman is very clear and the Vanden microphone is very clean and does not colour the tone of the guitar.

The feedback thresholds are very good and I have not had many problems in obtaining enough volume from the guitar transducers and a vocal mic. It is surprising how little you have to change your technique from 6 to 10 strings by using the classical technique. I use the little finger on the right hand as I see no reason not to .One of the biggest problems is muting the strings particularly when playing through a P.A. The left hand also has to do some awkward stretching but this is just practise.


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