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Classical Guitar Tips

I have been playing classical guitar for decades now and it is a joy in my life. It is really something special. If you are a beginner to this instrument you might be having trouble learning it. It does take time and effort but it really is worth it! Once you start being able to play different pieces you will not be able to stop! Just stick with it.

Here I have put together some tips for the classical guitar to help you in your quest to improve.



  • Stick with it! Time is a funny thing and it passes quickly. It is very easy to put down the guitar and have the days and weeks pass quickly. Before you know it the guitar sits in the closet and it has been months since you played. Try to play a little bit every day. Make time in your schedule. If you don't play very well yet that is ok! Enjoy what you can play and just keep moving forward!
  • Don't worry too much about the traditions of the classical guitar - Play how you feel and enjoy it. A good example of this is that you are supposed to rest the guitar on your left leg and your left leg is supposed to be elevated. Not comfortable for you? Play it on your right leg! You can always change this later. Play how it is comfortable for you. This also applies to hand positions. Don't worry too much about hand position on the guitar. Just play and have fun. As you progress you can correct hand position if you want to!
  • Get some supporting materials - Really! Spend a few dollars. I recommend either The Carcassi Method, or A modern approach to classical guitar (You can see these books and others here)
  • Take Lessons - To find an actual instructor for classical guitar can be a challenge, particularly if you don't live in a big city. But... you can make some phone calls to guitar instructors and ask them if they will help you with learning the classical guitar. This will help a lot because they will be able to go through the instruction book with you and help you a lot even if they don't specifically teach classical guitar.
  • Join a Classical Guitar Society - There are few things as good as meeting with and talking with other people that are interested in the same thing. There are plenty of societies and you might be able to find a chapter near you. I have a list here: Classical Guitar Societies
  • Listen to lots of classical guitar music - You will start to make distinctions and hear things in the way a musician does.
  • Fingernails - The fingernails of your right hand make an enormous difference in play and in sound. You should experiment with the length and shape of your nails. See how it feels and sounds as your nails get longer. And, just as I said in an earlier tip you shouldn't make it mandatory to have long nails! If you like playing with your fingertips rather than nails you go right ahead and do that! Not all professional classical guitar players use long fingernails.

Practical and Playing Tips

  • Don't wash your hands before playing! (Unless they are greasy and dirty) There are natural oils on your skin that help with playing. You will really feel the difference. Try playing then wash your hands and try again. You will feel a big difference!
  • Learning Tab is ok but... Learning tab is an ok way to start and it will serve you in your learning. I do recommend you take some time to learn how to read sheet music though. There is a depth to it that will greatly enrich your playing and enjoyment. There are subtleties and feelings with standard notation that just can't be portrayed with tab.
  • Try Other Guitars - If all you have is one guitar you should give other guitars a try. Go to a guitar shop if you have to and just try some of the classical guitars. There can be a very rich difference between guitars. And, if you have an inexpensive beginners guitar you will be surprised at how easy it is to play some of the more expensive guitars.
  • Experiment up and down the fretboard - Try playing pieces at different spots on the fretboard. One of the great things about the guitar is how much variety of tone you can get depending on where you play. Even though you could be playing the same note but in a different place it can sound significantly different. This is a tool of expression.
  • Explore the Spanish Guitar Repertoire - I love the Sounds of the Spanish Guitar and it is the Classical Guitar but played in a way that is very unique. There is beauty and power in Spanish Guitar.
  • Put more time and energy into your off-hand - If you are right handed you should do left hand specific exercises. And if you are left handed you should spend extra time on right handed exercises. A book that is a great help with this is called "Pumping Nylon". It is a series of exercises progressing in difficulty. And it gives you a wonderful repertoire of exercises that will greatly increase your speed and technical ability with both hands.


Pumping Nylon (Book & DVD) Guitar Books)

Simply put, this is the Holy Grail of classical guitar resources. Born from a daily warm-up and exercise routine, enhanced with previously unavailable technical information and blessed by Scott Tennant (the holy master of classical guitar himself), comes the best-selling series, Pumping Nylon. Learn to turn every note you play into an inspirational musical experience by improving your accuracy, precision, control, synchronization, speed, focus and stamina. Essential information and a great sense of humor unite in this comprehensive technique handbook for the classical guitarist. 96 pages. DVD running time: 1 hour 57 minutes.




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