Where My Research Took Me – Spanish Guitars

I’m working on How To Kiss A Troll and you might wonder how a story about a Norwegian family led me to Spanish Guitars.

It’s simple, My heroine Bella, flees her father’s Texas Ranchero for Minnesota where the Norwegian hero, Ax Bjornson’s family shelters her.

Bella has had some trying times but through it all she had her music, a beautiful flamenco guitar handed down to her by her grandfather. Her guitar is made of the traditional Spanish/Mediterranean cypress which makes it very light.


The flamenco has Moorish and Spanish roots and the Spanish gypsies were famous for playing the instrument.

Many modern Spanish guitars are made of Indian rosewood or Maple because the cypress has become more scarce, thus making them very expensive. These modern versions are a heavier wood and this affects the tone somewhat.

Spanish guitars are played in a flurries of notes and are very percussive. They don’t sustain notes as long as other guitars because they’re made for volume and attack. I’m sure everyone has noticed how flamenco guitarists strum the strings very vigorously. The guitars are also smaller than the American guitars The result is sharper notes, sometimes almost metallic in sound. And instead of using a pick guard, the flamenco’s slightly different barrier allows the guitarist to tap his fingers against the guitar while he is playing.

During the Renaissance there were two types Spanish guitars, the Vihuela, played in court and the guitarra latina, which was played by ordinary folk. The Vihuela had eleven strings, five double and one single and was plucked. The guitarra latina had four double strings and was strummed. Soon a fifth string was added to this guitar and it gained popularity over the Vihuela. Toward the end of the 17th century as sixth string was added. The added strings helped the guitar to better heard in concert with other instruments.

In How To Kiss A Troll, Bella finds a fellow music lover in Ax’s sister. Mista. She plays a stringed instrument as well, the hardanger fiddle. Back then they looked different than the modern ones and the type of music played on them was very different from the Spanish guitar. But that’s another blog.

If you’d like to listen the flamenco guitars and see some Spanish dancing be sure to visit the links below.

Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inBKFMB-yPg


More music and Spanish gypsy dancers! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLFH01qJT3k

For more history:




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2 Responses to Where My Research Took Me – Spanish Guitars

  1. Lyn Horner says:

    Wow! I had no idea flamenco guitars are so different from American guitars. Thanks for sharing your research, Sharla. Can’t wait to see how you work the guitar and hardanger fiddle into your book.

    • sharla says:

      This was all new to me too Lynda. What I really want to do is visit the musical museum in Phoenix. They have instruments from all over the world there. What I’m finding is that the original instruments, or those used in the 1800s were much more elaborate then those same instruments today. I first found the hardanger in a musical catalog called Lark In the Morning. This little catalog is one I subscribed to some years ago and for a writer is a true find. I suggest subscribing for a mew months just to investigate musical instruments from all over, new and old-timey.

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