Wednesday, December 8, 2010


The term classical guitar is generally referred to as being either the type or style of the guitar itself, or the playing style used with such a guitar. A classic or classical guitar is a standard six string acoustic guitar, and the playing style, called the classical guitar technique, may vary slightly depending on whether it is left handed or right handed, and with some variations which may affect the overall tone or dynamics of the performance. Depending upon which hand is used for the playing, the overall tone or sound may vary slightly.

For most players the hand used for plucking the strings is the dominant hand, which is why statistically most classical guitarists use the right hand for plucking strings. It is the hand used for the plucking which defines the overall tone and dynamic of the music, which is why the dominant hand is most usually chosen. It is this same reason that is used for certain other instruments, most particularly those stringed instruments which require a bow. The hand which draws the bow plays more of a role in defining the quality of sound, and so the dominant hand is often used in preference for the other.

For the majority of players, the use of the right hand will often be assumed, purely as a result of this being statistically true for most people. In such cases, the guitar is usually rested on the left leg, and often a stool or rest is used to raise this leg up so that the body of the guitar rests in a position which is most comfortable to play. It is important that the performer is not having to support the weight of the instrument or bend, stretch or twist in order to play it. Any such tension or discomfort will almost certainly result in a more tense, and therefore weaker performance.

Almost every guitarist's body shape is unique, even including length of arms, length of fingers, dexterity, strength, twisting ability, flexibility and many other such considerations. All of these effect the ease with which a standard classical technique can be achieved, and it is important, therefore, that in order to adopt a classical playing technique which maximises your own ability to produce effective sound quality, you experiment and are prepared to adapt standard techniques to suit your own ability.

Almost all classical guitarists have their own individual variations in playing style, the position of the guitar, and even which fingers are used, and how, in plucking the strings. Do not be afraid to find your own style and position, and try a variety of methods in order to find which one suits you best. The overall quality of sound, tone, harmonics and dynamics will all be affected significantly if you are trying to use a style which results in discomfort, tension or strain of any kind.

The most important aspect of attaining a good classical guitar technique is to listen carefully to the quality of the sound being produced. If one particular method either feels uncomfortable, or the sound is not quite true, or fluid, or crisp, then it would be better to vary the position, fingering and technique in order to try to improve on the quality of sound. Having said this, it is also important to bear in mind that over time you will almost certainly find that your fingers, wrists and arms become more attuned to the playing style, and become stronger, and more flexible, which will help to improve your versatility.

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