May
06

Since we have these two guitars that are aesthetically identical except that one is a blanca and the other is a negra, I thought it’d be fun to play the same stuff on both to really hear the difference between the two types of guitars (it’s a big choice for many). The guitars are a Felipe Conde FC26 and a Felipe Conde FC28, both made this year and both serious flamencos. Of course we’re dealing with two specific guitars, so my little demo isn’t going to settle any bets, but it’s a pretty straightforward way to hear the difference between cypress and rosewood guitars (and whatever construction details may be adjusted for each).

I just played the same three falsetas on each guitar, first a quiet-ish one (Granaina), then a medium one (Alegria) and finally I pushed the guitars a little with some Buleria. I used the most neutral signal chain I have to record them (U89 into a Millennia pre) in a really dead room and I added nothing to the recording, which means that both guitars will sound more ‘live’ in a good room.

I made my choice a long time ago – I like blancas – but it’s a personal thing, so hopefully this will help a little bit for anyone on the fence about which way to go.

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

29 Responses to “Blanca vs. Negra”

 
  1. cuchares says:

    You like the blanca but i think the negra likes you mo’ better.

  2. Jerry says:

    Kai, That’s an excellent demo! Thanks for taking the time to put that together ~ they both sound great. Your playing technique is amazing and really showcases the differences between these two “different” flamencos.

  3. Mario Amaya says:

    It would have been better to play the same things on the two guitars!

  4. Lawrence Tendler says:

    The idea of the Negra ,if I am not mistaken ,was improved projection of sound.But I prefer cypress for flamenco ,or even maple.Like Kai correctly stated ,it is such a personal choice.But rosewood guitars probably do project better.

  5. Lawrence Tendler says:

    Dear Kai , both conde guitars sound terrific IMHO ,there is a very distinct difference between them ,no mistaking that .I like them both but if made to choose would prefer the Blanca .Incidentally ,I have read some criticism regarding conde guitars recently on the internet but if these samples are anything to go buy then conde guitars are as good as anything else ,even legends like Reyes or Arcangel IMHO.

  6. Lawrence Tendler says:

    Call me shallow ,but both guitars also have that delicious and very beautiful Rosette.I remember seeing the flamenco guitarist Juan Martin in London playing the identical negra by conde with that beautiful rose rosette design, that would have been about twelve years ago ,more or less.

  7. Lawrence Tendler says:

    Sometimes pains me to hear criticism regarding Conde and Ramirez and nasty rumours.They did not build huge reputations and sell thousands of guitars globally by not offering offering excellent guitars.

    • cuchares says:

      Neither is innocent of dog building.Condes that developed 50 cracks or the tone died after a year,Thuddy Ramirez that were unplayable beasts.
      These were real events.

      • Lawrence Tendler says:

        I know , Ramirez and Conde are not what they used to be .Trouble is we remember how they used to be back in the good ol’ days .

        • cuchares says:

          I talking about the Bad old days before and after the Japanese induced them to clean up their acts.
          With Ramirez I don’t know.There is no reason for them to not be able to make top quality flamencos.
          Today i would say Condes are as good as ever .Then there is the price.I don’t think a Faustino Conde from the 60’s would cost the equivilent of $16K.

  8. Lawrence Tendler says:

    Although rosewood flamenco guitars can be “muy flamenco ‘ ,if made well of course , nothing sounds as “flamenco puro ” like a cypress blanca. This statement is not meant to distract in anyway from the excellent negra guitars. Blancas ,to my hears at least , always sound more flamenco and this applies to whether the guitar is by Raya Pardo ,or Conde ,or Ramirez ,or Gerundino ,or Reyes etc just something inherent in the wood.And the smell of cypress is divine. I have seen negras by each of these fine makers and their cypress guitars always sound more flamenco for my tastes ,but rosewood maybe has more volume which is what obsesses or concerns guitarists these days.

  9. Lawrence Tendler says:

    SORRY, I should have said DETRACT not DISTRACT.

  10. Lawrence Tendler says:

    DETRACT IN ANY WAY ,not distract in anyway .I wrote this first thing in the morning before drinking coffee folks,sorry.

  11. zoran says:

    I had flamenco AF25 negra model and did not like at all. Guitar did not have voice adjust by fine tunning technique nor setting was right, the finish was thick, The Conde guitars today are overpriced triple and on mass production. My advice is not go for Conde until try other 100% hand made guitars from other builders in range of $3000 to $4000 and if you know how to enhance voicing by fine bracing tune you can get excellent guitar that worth much more.

    The blanca sound much lighter and thiner without so much punch as negra. For live performance I choose negra , but for small audience I will choose blanca. Having several blanca i noticed that blanca is lighter tone and that needs to be compensate with bigger body blanca keeping weight down. Just my opinion.Regards
    Zoran

    • cuchares says:

      The MAIN ADVANTAGE of Condes is the playability.I have a bunch of high end guitars; they all sound wonderful..
      The winners in the playability department are Conde,Camacho and Peter Tsiorbas.

  12. Lawrence Tendler says:

    Zoran may have a point ,one can purchase a first rate guitar made by a single luthier entirely by hand from Granada ,spain ,hand polished for a fraction of the price of a conde and who knows who makes conde guitars these days and where ? and you don’t mess with the Zoran…

  13. ronjazz says:

    I have two Lester Devoe flamenco guitars, one a negra and the other a blanca, both made at the same time. The negra is more versatile, and not louder, but a bit more full. The blanca is very quick and very loud, excellent for accompaniment and for fast tocas, the negra better for slower pieces that benefit from a more legato approach. I use both on my recordings; the negra is for the romantic pieces, the blanca for the exciting and fast things. If I needed to choose, since I am not strictly a flamenco player, I would keep the negra, but I do love to play that blanca.

  14. Lawrence Tendler says:

    The issue of Blanca v Negra is not so black and white….Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha .

  15. FLAMENCO LOVER says:

    I PLAY THE GUITAR FOR 40 YEARS.
    THE BEST IS PETER TSIORBA FLAMENCO GUITAR.
    I HAVE ONE WITH BRAZILIAN ROSEWOOD A “NEGARA“
    AND WE COMPARE IT TO THE A CONDE AF25/R AND TSIORBA GUITAR IS A BETTER ONE OVERHAUL.

    • cuchares says:

      Peter is very good.Great sound and playability.I have a Maple w/ Carpathian spruce top.(It sounds like” the howling of my little friends “,as the count put it:-)

  16. Peter says:

    I believe that for that edgy flair that is so characteristic of flamenco, the blanca is superior. There’s just a better balance between treble and bass. It’s like watching two equally matched dancers, both subtle yet aggressive, passionate and sensual. There’s a fire between the two of them that is equally seductive. I just don’t hear that sexy balance in the negra.

  17. Great comparo video Kai, and your playing beautiful like always.

  18. Darn, it makes my decision tough to make. I like the flamenco growl of the blanca in most cases. But for playing live this is a tough call. The negra has a more sweeter sound to it. The blanca is more sharp. I am in the market for either one and am having a hard time making my mind up. I am torn between an Alhambra 7Fc or the Alhambra 7Fp… I do think I like Blanca’s better though….