12 Flamenco Guitarists You Need To Listen To (right now!)
The flamenco guitarist has a certain style and way of playing the guitar compared to a classical or Spanish guitar player. For instance the flamenco guitarist uses the body of the guitar as a percussion instrument whilst using the strings to create a tune.
Specific Design Of The Flamenco Guitar
Originally flamenco was a style of singing, over the years as the guitar was used to accompany the flamenco singer or dancer, new styles of instrument were developed. The original, standard Spanish guitar was altered to suit the style used to play it. For instance, the strings are set closer to the fretboard to allow faster chord changes and finger position progression.
Also the actual soundbox of the flamenco guitar is narrower which is more convenient for the player to hold. The wood used to construct the flamenco guitar is different too. Flamenco guitars are commonly made using rosewood, sycamore or cypress for the main body and supporting inner struts and the top of the sound box is generally made from German Fir. With the soundhole often having a slight cowl to protect the wood from the way in which the guitarist strikes the strings when playing.
When trying to compile any list of guitarists it’s a difficult task. We all like different styles of playing, different sounds etc. Plus with flamenco guitarists there have been so many technically brilliant players over the years, so we have decided to compile our list using the best examples of flamenco guitar we know.
If we miss your favourite or any flamenco guitarist you are familiar with please feel free to let us know in the comments as we’re always interested in new guitarists. Here’s our 12 flamenco guitarists we feel you need to listen to.
Paco de Lucía
One of, if not the leading pioneer of the new flamenco style. He fused classical and jazz styles with flamenco. He was noted for his fast finger style and various strumming styles. Although often regarded as the leading light in the new flamenco movement, Paco was also known for playing traditional flamenco pieces.
Paco teamed up with flamenco singer Camarón de la Isla during the 1970s and together they recorded 10 albums which are widely believed to be some of the most influential and important in the entire history of flamenco.
Manolo is considered to be one of the most important Spanish flamenco composers and guitar players alive today. He is constantly striving to reach new boundaries for the guitar and flamenco in general. He has composed orchestral flamenco pieces and even a flamenco opera. In the year 2000 he was awarded Spain’s Premio Nacional de Música for interpretation.
José Fernández Torres better known as Tomatito started his career accompanying the flamenco singer Camarón de la Isla and Paco de Lucía. He has collaborated with other artists to record albums, and has also recorded 6 solo albums with 2 of them being awarded Latin Grammy Awards. He plays traditional flamenco and also jazz guitar and often fuses the 2 together.
Pepe is considered to be one of Spain’s finest contemporary guitarists and one of the great flamenco masters. He has experimented with Arabic-flamenco fusion and Indian string music- flamenco fusion.
A student of Manolo Sanlúcar, Vincente has been a solo artist since 1988 and has won many awards. He has also collaborated with some of the great flamenco artists, people like; Carmen Linares, Manolo Sanlúcar, Wagner Tiso, Rosario, Nacho Cano, Alejandro Sanz, Paco de Lucía, Camarón de la Isla, and Luis de Córdoba.
Agustín Castellón Campos better known as Sabicas was a Spanish flamenco guitarist of Romani descent. He eventually settled in the USA and introduced the sound of flamenco to a non-Spanish speaking audience. He was technically a brilliant guitarist, Chet Atkins said “The finest technique around has got to be Sabicas, the flamenco player.”
Paco is considered to be one of the foremost traditional flamenco guitarists in the world. He became so popular among British tourists that he eventually found himself performing on stage with many famous artists like Jimi Hendrix and made his solo debut at the Wigmore hall in 1967. He has also performed at the Carnegie hall in New York, the Royal Albert hall in London and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.
This Spanish guitarist and composer has flamenco roots but also plays jazz and fusion. He has composed a number of works including compositions for four guitars and jazz/flamenco fusion. Gerardo has performed worldwide, playing flamenco guitar in Paris, Munich, Cologne, New York and Havana.
Paco has accompanied many artists and has also released solo albums showcasing his Spanish flamenco guitar skills. He is also an accomplished composer of both flamenco and popular songs. He has composed songs for many established artists including; Julio Iglesias, Isabel Pantoja and Chiquetete.
Diego del Gastor
Diego was the creator and best known player of the flamenco style Morón de la Frontera, Sevilla. He has passed this tradition on to family members in the shape of his nephews Diego de Morón, Agustin Ríos Amaya, Paco and Juan del Gastor. He played Gypsy style flamenco as a solo artist and as accompaniment for other artists.
During his musical career Moraito was always in demand. He regularly accompanied popular flamenco singers like; Diego Carrasco and José Mercé.
Most famous for his energetic driving rhythmic style of playing and he appeared in several movies playing flamenco guitar. He also produced a number of flamenco instructional DVDs and books.
Rafael is considered to be a maestro in flamenco guitar history. When he was just 14 years old he won the two main awards for flamenco guitar in his homeland of Spain. Since becoming an adult he has won many more awards including; Giraldillo a la Maestría de la XVIII Bienal de Flamenco, Premio Andalucía de Cultura, Premio Nacional de la Crítica and XXXI Compás del Cante, which is considered in Spain to be the equivalent of a Nobel prize (for flamenco).
Who Would You Choose?
That’s our top 12 flamenco guitarists we think you should listen to, did we pick your favourite? Let us know in the comments.