Since I am known more for my classical guitars, it is not often that I get asked to make a flamenco guitar, which is a pity. Some of the best guitars I've ever heard have been flamencas. The ones I have built are lovely, and I really enjoy making them.
My work as a restorer has given me first-hand experience of some wonderful flamenco guitars by great makers like Santos-Hernandez, Domingo Esteso, Manuel Reyes and Gerundino. Through this experience I have formed an understanding of the way to build a good one.
A good flamenco guitar should have a beautiful tone, as well as the springy attack and quick response needed for this very rhythmic kind of music. The airy, earthy tonal qualities come from the cypress back and sides, which are very light, but strong. A good spruce/cypress flamenca can produce a beguiling range of light and dark tones, capable of expressing sadness and pathos as well as joy and happiness.
It is a shame that few would ever consider cypress for a classical guitar - it would be very beautiful.
This Cypress/spruce flamenco guitar is built lightly, along traditional lines. The plantilla is a Model 12, a further evolution of my model 07 shape that was inspired by a 1932 Domingo Esteso guitar.
The top is supported by a 6-fan assymmetric system of my own design. It is a lovely flamenco instrument with a beautiful warm, crisp and dry airy sound. The tone is very balanaced and even throughout. Excellent separation of the string voices and well focused notes make for effortless playing. The left hand is easy, the response for the right hand is taut, but the string feel is flexible. It has strong percussive qualities when required and a responds well to rasqueado playing. The clear & incisive trebles have a musicality that is excellent for melodic work. This is a guitar which loves to be played! It was hard to part with it.
I also use a 1929 Santos-Hernandez shape, Model 14 for flamenco guitars. See photos of one here.