Looking into a new hobby and thought of learning to play a Spanish guitar, perhaps?
Remember, the terms “classical guitar” and “Spanish guitar” are actually interchangeable. Both refer to a guitar instrument with nylon strings rather than steel.
This article gives you a short introduction, background on how to play the Spanish guitar, and good techniques for playing the instrument. For guitar lessons and in-depth information on this classical instrument, you can learn all about Spanish guitars at classicalguitarshed.com.
Compared to other types of guitar, the Spanish guitar has a more defined playing technique with an established “correct way of playing.” If you’re teaching yourself to play a flamenco guitar, make sure to pay close attention to how classical guitarists like David Russell and John Williams play the instrument. As always, if you can, it’s best to get guitar lessons.
The following tips refer to a standard, right-hand instrument. Of course, left-handed Spanish guitarists do exist. But as a beginner, you should first learn how to play the guitar with a standard instrument, even if you’re left-handed.
The Right Playing Position
The guitarist will be seated when playing the guitar. In this case, you can use an armless chair or a simple stool of average height.
The flamenco guitar will rest on top of your left thigh and held close to your body. Make use of a footstool to raise your left leg so that your instrument is positioned comfortably for playing. Make sure the 12th fret of the guitar is roughly central to the body. Straighten your back and ensure there’s no undue strain in the arms, back, and neck.
Use your thumb and fingers on the right hand to produce notes, and don’t use a pick. Generally, you won’t be using your little finger or pinkie. Your right hand will be used to play arpeggios, chords, and single-note lines. This is perhaps why acoustic guitarists who are used to fingerstyle may find it difficult to adapt to the Spanish guitar.
Take note that there are some right-hand techniques used in Spanish guitar that aren’t used in the standard acoustic guitar. In classical guitar, the notes are mostly sounded using one of the two styles: tirando or apoyando.
- Tirando – This means ‘free stroke’ and is where your finger strikes the string as part of a continuous motion. This is how notes are typically played in acoustic guitar.
- Apoyando – This means ‘rest stroke’. Your fingers will be striking the string, but instead of continuing past the string, they come to rest on the adjacent string. This motion produces a stronger sound, and you can use it to emphasize notes or melodies.
Other Spanish guitar right-hand techniques:
- Tremolo – This is when you sound each note of a melody with three right-hand fingers in quick succession. This gives the impression of a single continuously sustained note. You will be using your thumb to play notes between the tremolo part.
- Rasguado – This is a strumming motion, often performed with the second finger.
- Golpe – This is a percussive tap on the guitar body, often used when playing flamenco.
Left Hand Technique
The Spanish guitar left-hand technique is similar to that of the acoustic and electric styles. Your thumb will remain behind the neck and not too near the sides. The barres and half barres are both utilized.
Most Spanish guitar pieces have bass, mid and treble parts. Care is needed in the left hand for all parts to sound clearly.
2.Growing Nails to Play Spanish Guitar
Most classical guitar players grow the nails of their right hand. Growing nails allow for a clearer, stronger sound to be produced. While it’s not really necessary, playing with nails is quite helpful and something you should try.
3.Learning to Read Music
Spanish guitarists learn to read music so that they’re able to play from scores. Music is often memorized for a performance. This enables the guitarist to give a better performance and ensure that the sound of the instrument isn’t hindered by the music on a stand.
If you’re learning the Spanish guitar from an acoustic or electric guitar background, then you have to learn to read music. Although there is some Spanish guitar music available in TAB, your playing will be restricted if you can’t read.
If you’re really sincere about learning how to play Spanish guitar, you may as well take guitar lessons so that you can learn how to read music too.
Of course, it goes without saying that you can’t learn how to play Spanish guitar just from reading an article. But, we hope that this gave you some insightful tips on how to get started. With dedication and constant practice, you may become the next Segovia.
The payoff is immeasurable once you can play Spanish guitar music, even if it’s just a little bit! Being able to get the basics down opens up the potential to play with other guitarists. This propels you even further on your musical journey. We wish you the best of luck!