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Guitar Practicing Habits

by Gerry Busch
(Canada)

Guitar Practicing Habits


I've noticed a couple of interesting things about my practicing habits, and wonder whether anyone else here has had the same experiences:

First of all, I have a habit of quitting while I'm ahead. This is because if my practice session ends on a high note, so to speak, I feel good about myself and look forward to the next session. If, on the other hand, I continue practicing until I start to make mistakes and play very badly, perhaps from fatigue or having moved on to one of my more difficult pieces, then I'm likely to dread the next practice session.

So much for the first observation. The other thing I've noticed is what I'd call subconscious learning. This could be something similar to sleep learning. It happens whenever I'm forced to stay away from the guitar longer than usual. I might be in the process of relocating, for example, or occupied with other interests that prevent me from practicing for anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks at a time -- or maybe I'm simply fresh out of enthusiasm.

In any case, my very next practice session is invariably a good one, because somehow any difficulties I was having with fingering or interpreting a complex passage seem to have been overcome. It's almost as if I had been practicing subconsciously while away from the guitar, and had solved my problems!

OK, maybe I'm being too analytical here, but hey, "the unexamined life isn't worth living," said Socrates -- I doubt if he said "hey," though! :)

Hey Gerry!

Some great observations there. I'm sure you're right about the subconscious learning. I've noticed it myself and I'm sure it's a fact. Once you set your subconscious mind a task it'll keep working on it for you until it's done.

It's like when you can't remember a name, then suddenly, three days later the name will pop into your head. Your subconscious kept on the job. You were probably stressed out at the time which interfered with your recall and when you relaxed - Boom! - There it is.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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notation in my music...

by Candy Wilson
(Garland TX USA)

What does it mean when there is a number with a circle around it above the note? Like a 5 with a circle around it and maybe another number without a circle below it.
Thanks, Candy :)

Hi Candy,

That just means the guitar string you're using. As in the example you gave above, namely: 5, that would be the 5th or a string. The 1st string is E or 1, the 2nd string is B or 2, the 3rd string is G or 3, the 4th string is D or 4, the 5th string is A or 5 and the 6th string is E or 6 in a circle.

I hope this helps.

Kind regards' Trevor M.

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size?

by joma ma
(Earth)

What size guitar should I get? I saw a 3/4 guitar but now I am confused.

Hi joma ma,

I've answered this one before but, as a rough guide, I recommend you stand the guitar up next to your side (standing the guitar lightly on its end). If the headstock comes up to your waist, the guitar is the right size for you.

Also you need to feel that the guitar frets and neck are the right size for your fingers and hand span.

I hope this is of help.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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correct size of guitar for beginners
by: jrldev

The size of the guitar to use is best detrmined by the "scale-length" (distance from the Nut to the top of the "saddle) - the little white strip which is placed in the bridge of the guitar).

The current "standard" for classical guitars not made by hand (luthiers) is 650mm or about 25.6".
If your fretting-hand "spread" (from the little finger to the thumb) is under 9" you probably could benefit from a "shorter scale" guitar.
Some makers do make them with 635mm to 610mm
and often labels them 7/8 size.

Within the "student-level" instruments "Strunal"
Makes a 620mm, Takamine makes a 628mm and Giannini
makes a 610". The last time I checked they were under the $300 price tag.

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guitar for left handed

by Paul
(Puilippines)

I'm left handed! Will it be the same if I play the guitar for right handed people, I mean - not switching the strings so that the guitar head will be pointing towards my right side?

Hi Paul,

You'd have to switch the strings i.e. reverse them if you want to play it left handed otherwise the strings would be reversed so that the 1st (thinnest) E string would be on top instead of down lowest.

It is similar for all the other strings too.

I hope this helps,
Trevor M.

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How to use those books?

Hello Trevor,

You very often mention/recommend 3 books: Classical Guitar Pedagogy, Pumping Nylon and The Path to Virtuosity.

I have them all. How do you recommend using those 3 books, let’s say, in a 2 hour a day routine?

Will something like what I am asking be included in your forthcoming Classical Guitar Course?

Thank you in advance.
Ulises

Hi Ulises,

Congratulations on getting the books, they should really help you!

I would suggest splitting your time for the exercises in the 2 books Pumping Nylon and The Path to Virtuosity, say 45 minutes and 45 minutes.

The other book, Classical Guitar Pedagogy, being very good on the theoretical background (although there are very good practical exercises) can be studied for the other 30 minutes per day.

This is just a suggestion as some people could benefit from completing one book and then the other.

It is really up to you and your personal taste for learning. I myself had Pumping Nylon and Classical Guitar Pedagogy first and had finished going through them before I found The Path to Virtuosity.

They have all played a part in my development as had the course of study I have devised through my classical guitar experience over the years.

I don't use the books in my upcoming course but I'm sure their influence on me over the years, at least subconsciously, has helped me to put it together. That is, it is different material but I have tried to organise it so it has the most beneficial effect on your development.

I hope these suggestions have been useful.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Size of the neck

by Bjorn Johansson
(Stockholm)

Hi! My name is Bjorn.I recently picked up my guitar playing again after a very long time.

I went to a guitar school when I was about nine or ten yers old. Now I am 62 and retired. To my suprise I found out that I still can read notes and play, and now I am hooked up. Thanks to the internet I found your site and now I want to learn more.

My question is about the size of my guitar.
My mother bought me a small guitar by the brand of Yamaha and I still play on that. It is 50 years old now.

Now I´ve found out, that when I'm playing a G chord and shall add the D note on the second string, there is not enough room for both fingers so I get a blurry sound.

The size at the first fret is 45 mm. Maybe my hands have grown over the years but I still have small hands.

Do you recommend me to buy a new bigger guitar?

Kind regards,
Bjorn Johansson

Hi Bjorn,

The short answer is yes! You are probably too big, and have been for a long time, for a child's guitar. Additionally, you'll get more out of a full size guitar in terms of exressiveness and dynamics.

Definitely go for a new one, it'll make you feel good!

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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student guitars

by Clay
(Austin, Texas)

How big is a student classical guitar?

Hi Clay,

There are several sizes of guitar for younger students. You can get a 1/2 or 3/4 size guitar and even a 5/8 size if you need it.

Trevor M.

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pro brands of classical guitars

by Cary
(Richmond, Virginia)

Looking to the future, in the $2,000- $4,000 grouping, what are the most used brands by the pros, also your opinion on the best tone guitars...who makes the guitars that people like Williams, Bream, Segovia , etc use(d) and what price range do they fall in?
Thanks

Hi Cary,

I'm a bit biased at the moment as I recently purchased a Paulino Bernabe Model 20 and I absolutely love it! :))

But since it's in a price range upwards of $6000 you might not be interested.

My advice in your stated price range would be something like:

* The Ramirez 4E

or,

* Manuel Contreras II C-7

Both of these guitar makers have high-quality reputations and couldn’t afford to put out inferior quality merchandise or they'd go out of business real quick!

Apart from that, I have used, until the Bernabe recently, a Yamaha grand concert which has been fabulous. Yamaha always make great guitars with quality sound.

In terms of what the professionals like Williams, Bream, Segovia, it's a combination but you can be rest assured the instruments are of the highest quality and standards and the makers are the best in the world.

For instance, Segovia had a guitar made by Hermann Hauser. I think the very Hauser he used on many famous recordings over the years now resides in the New York Museum of Art, donated by Madame Segovia upon Segovia's death.

Julian Bream also played a Hauser that was on loan from Rose Augustine (Augustine strings) but I think had to return it after her death.

John Williams has used guitars by Fleta and the Australian Greg Smallman, whose output is small but the quality, of course, is very high. It is said he also recently bought a Paulino Bernabe for concert work.

I'm pretty sure their guitars would be upwards of $10 000 at least, if not much more but after all, it is their livelihood and they need instruments of the highest quality.

When you think of Stradivarius violins going for millions then it's not hard to imagine someone paying a mere $10 000 to $20 000 for a good guitar.

I hope this is of help.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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I'm a newbie, and I'm afraid I won't learn efficiently

by Sam K.
(Millburn, New Jersey, USA)

Hi Trevor,

First of all, your site is wonderful- full of resources and useful advice. I thank you for creating a free tool to help aspiring guitarists, especially now when the economy is in shambles and lessons are out of the question for college students like me.

I play electric guitar, heavy metal to be exact. A few years ago I happened to buy a few albums by the bands Nile and Behemoth, both of which contain heaping loads of Middle-Eastern and Spanish inspired classical pieces in between their usual heavy metal assault and battery riffs.

I was immediately hooked and part of the reason I still listen to these bands despite my out phasing of heavy metal after my teenage years is because of these beautiful classic guitar pieces.

About a year ago, I listened to some old Persian music from my mother's collection and again, I was attracted to the deep sound of the classical guitar. I decided to go buy a Yamaha starter's kit with a $100 classical guitar and the works. I played for a few weeks using a pick and gave up.

I went back to heavy metal and electric guitars (keep in mind, I don't know how to read music or know my notes- I rely fully on tablature and write songs using tablature. I have absolutely no musical knowledge, but I somehow manage to write some complex metal songs).

I recently got back into classical guitar when rummaging through our closet for something and stumbled upon my old Yamaha. I picked it up and surprisingly, basic finger picking came easy within a couple hours.

I started listening to more classical guitar music, and I'm really hooked! I can say that I really like this type of music and my mother noticed how nice it sounds when I played and shared a story about my childhood when she used to play classic guitar tapes at home and I would love it.

She took me up for classical guitar lessons when I was four, but I got nowhere. Now I really want to learn.

But the discouraging thing is that there is so much I need to learn before actually playing! I'm the type that improvises and can play something by ear after trial and error. I usually just keep trying different things out until I'm satisfied and find it hard to follow a rubric.

I'm scared of this heap of things I need to learn- how to read notes, memorizing notes on the fretboard, how to alternate finger pick, learning chords (btw, I'm the chord retard here- I only stick to power chords and octaves most of the time).

I don't want to be overwhelmed and want to learn at my own pace but still make progress. With another semester of college coming up, I don't want to waste time or interfere with my responsibilities, but the temptation of that classical guitar sound is sometimes too much for me to bear!

Trevor, please give me some useful tips and advice. I want to be able to not only pour my heart out into this beautiful music but to be able to share it with others as a part time gig in the future.

-Best regards,
Sam

Wow!

Sam yours is a great story and there's a lot going on there. In terms of your fears though I think it's quite common to feel that way.

My best advice is to pick one book to start with and stick with it. Slowly work your way through it even if you go off and do others things like "improvising" and other stuff. You'd be surprised how fast you can improve if you just stick with it (as you saw when you did the finger picking over a couple of hours).

If you look at my book recommendation page I'd advise that you start with those books in this order...

1. Pumping Nylon by Scott Tennant- It's a great place to start and you can really consolidate some good knowledge and skills...

2. Classical Guitar Pedagogy by Anthony Glise - This book will give you a deeper knowledge of technique and of the "how" it should be done...


3. Kitharologus, The Path to Virtuosity by Ricardo Iznaola - This book delves into more advanced technique exercises and really "polishes" your musicianship.

These books are well established and are really what I term the "shortcut" to classical guitar success because they get to the heart of the matter without any real "fluff", as it were.

I hope this has been of some help. Good luck!

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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You now have one of the greatest joys
by: Anonymous

Your love of the classical guitar is evident in what you write. Get ready for the ride of your life! It's addicting and frustrating and sometimes torture and sometimes ecstasy.

If you don't mind my adding to what Trevor has said, the Christopher Parkening Guitar Method Volumes I and II are great to learn from, too, and there's a whole section in Vol I about care of the guitar and how to string it as well.

Listening to great artists is also important and inspiring. David Russell is my favorite.

It sounds like you have a good ear and a great deal of musical talent, but sometimes, in learning the beginning stuff and how to read guitar music, you have to set that aside for a time and just focus on the technicalities in front of you. It's more important to devote some time to it daily, rather than to rush and to pack a bunch of stuff into one intense lesson or time period. Just a bit of time each day is better. Once you've mastered the basics of reading, doors will fly open for you and then you can begin to apply your talent.

There is a lot of free guitar sheet music on the Internet. You can go into google and type in the kinds you're interested in and sites will appear. You can then print it out. Here's one great site:

http://www.guitarpress.com/sheet.html

Best of luck to you. You will be frustrated at times, but when that happens, just walk away and come back later. It will pass.


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How to choose the first classical guitar?

by Pritesh
(Bangalore, India)

Hi,

First of all let me thank you for the website and recommending the book "Pumping Nylon". You are quite right about it.

I am from India and am interested in learning the Classical Guitar.

We really have limited choice here, I am not sure if you have heard of a brand called J&D, but thats the most easily available guitars out here. I am looking for something within $200 (if its possible to get something in that range).

What are the things that I should look for? Usual things like looking for too much scratches etc is ok, but is there anything else that I should look for also?

Sometimes an instrument sounds too good in the shop and then sounds that way for a few days, but later it just kinda sounds flat. Anyway, I can know that beforehand? Any way to prejudge that?

I did visit the questions site and found an interesting tip about the height of the guitar. You said that the guitar headstock should reach the waist and that way one can know that its right. Any more such tips? Please let me know. I would be extremely thankful.

Once again my heartfelt thanks for the amazing website and the recommendation of books.

Regards,
Pmu

Hi Pritesh,

Firstly, thanks for the kind words. They are much appreciated.

I have written a page some time ago on buying a guitar that has quite a few tips. You can see that page here...

I hope this is of help.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Switching from right handed guitar to left handed

by Charles garito
(Staten island, n.y.)

I'm right handed and began learning to play classical guitar about a year ago. I now find there are certain fingerings I have difficulty with because the middle finger of my left hand cannot bend at the tip due to a childhood injury. what issues do I face in making the switch?

Hi Charles,

Switching from right handed guitar to left handed, especially if you're a natural right-hander, seems an extreme solution to your problem.

Have you tried coming up with alternate fingerings and chord voicings for the music you want to play? In other words you might leave out a certain note or change its position on the fret board so that it still sounds correct but you can finger the notes.

Additionally, have you exhausted all the medical possibilities where you might get some movement or control back into the affected finger?

It just seems as though it would be a very labor intensive and time intensive way to solve your problem. And don't forget that your finger problem would possibly be transposed to the other job of plucking the notes which may cause your tone to be affected.

I hope this has been of some help to clarify things in your mind before you proceed.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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I am a lefty that plays classical guitar right handed
by: james

Perhaps a long road Iam 59 years old. The brain adapts. Perhaps this is no problem except in your mind.
James

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musical symbols

by michael laue
(stone ridge ny)

What do the symbols 1/2, CII, CIII etc mean? It's always prevented me from learning because no one seems to know. Can you help?

Hi Michael,

The "C" above stands for "Ceja" (translation to English meaning Capo), which is Spanish for a Barre chord (or Bar chord) where your index finger covers all strings, or in the case of "1/2C" 3 or 4 strings on a fret.

You can see this is similar to the function of a capo, however, you have one less finger to then finger the chords, so it's not exactly like a capo.

The Roman numerals indicate which fret you're actually playing the "barre" on. Thus, your example above would be the 2nd & 3rd frets respectively. Another example would be IV for fret 4 & V for fret five & so on. You just need to know your Roman numerals :))

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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What do the symbols 1/2, CII, CIII etc mean?
by: Felix

Very helpful. Many thanks.

They are indications of where to play a barre chord & the 1/2 means 1/2 barre or fingers over 3, sometimes 4 or even 5 strings.

The "11" & "111" are Roman numerals that refer to which fret to play on as in fret 2 and fret 3 etc.

I hope this was of help.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Guitar Size

by Shelby
(Missouri)

I have been looking at guitars online and am a beginner. I'm looking for one around $100-$150 and have found a few that I'm really interested in.

But, I'm not sure what size to get. There is 25.5 inches, 38 inches, and 41 inches, that I have seen. My question is, how do I decide which size to get?

Hi Shelby,

It depends on your size but most adults (presuming you are an adult) would get a full sized guitar.

A good "rule of thumb" guide is to stand the guitar on it's base next to your side. If the headstock (where the tuning pegs are) comes up to your waist, then that's your size. Perhaps you could go into a guitar store to check this out BEFORE you buy online.

Failing that, perhaps you could take a measurement from the floor to your waist at home and then compare that with the guitar size.

I'd be surprised if you weren't suited to a full sized adult guitar though unless you are quite short.

I hope this information is helpful.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Guitar Size is Important
by: Joseph de Victoria

In My brief experience as a student of the CG I have researched,read about,and try-out several guitar sizes and have arrived to the conclusion
that the most neglected phase in choosing a CG is the scale-length(string distance from the Nut to the top of the saddle).

Not everyone-regardless of age or stature- have
fingers that can confortably play within the standard 650mm CG fretboard.

Most of the CG in the market place today are manufactured(unless is a luthier-made instrument)with the "standard" 650mm scale length.
This is one area where the old saying "No pain No gain" does not apply.

Some new students of the CG arrive at a point of
almost given-up the instrument if not for the
"discovery" that a shorter "scale-length" guitar will eliminate the disconfort and begin to see
positive progress in their study of the guitar.

Remember that the music for the classical guitar written by composers like Sor,Giuliani,Carcassi, etc.was played with instruments with scale-length shorter that today's 650mm "standard".

There are today some "factory-made" CG that can
be available with scale-lengths from 610mm to
635mm, Some manufacturers use the term 7/8 size
or even 3/4 size when describing these guitars.
The important factor is to determine the exact
scale-length.

As a reference: 1.0 Inches = 25.4 millimiters
A 650mm scale length = 25.6"

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New classical guitar

by David Tetreault
(Old Orchard Beach, Maine, USA)

I would like to purchase a new classical guitar. I can find several in my budget ($4000 maximum) at on-line retailers.

However, I don't know how they sound or feel except by the description. I have called guitar stores within 150 miles and they have very few to try.

I'm stuck because whatever I decide, I'll never know how it compares to other similar priced instruments.

Any advice on how to select a guitar that I hope to play for a very long time?

Hi David,

At $4000 you should be able to buy a guitar of good quality and high standard. I would look to brands that have a reputation and history because if they didn't live up to that reputation they'd be out of business quick-smart.

For instance, I just bought a Paulino Bernabe 20 recently and I knew beforehand of the quality. Another one of quality (which I was going to buy) is the Ramirez 4E

It's just that they had none in stock at the time so I went with the Bernabe and I must say I love it! There's nothing like buying a new guitar.
Hope this is of help.
Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Even closer to home
by: Paul

A trip to Spain to select a guitar sounds like the dream of every classical guitar player but you can do some easy shopping closer to home. The Classical Guitar Store in Philadelphia has a mail order system where you talk to one of their experts, they suggest a suitable instrument and ship it to you for a trial period of three days. You're only out the shipping expenses (plus a credit card hold to guarantee return or purchase)and you don't have to go anywhere. They break guitars into two segments: up to $3,000 and $3,000 and up. Your $4,000 would get you into some wonderful instruments.I went through a different vendor but bought a Loriente Marieta by mail. I'm happy with it.

Guitar
by: TA

David,
Don't buy a guitar that you haven't played. Especially one that you plan to keep for a long time and spend 4k to purchase. With that amount of money you could fly to Madrid or Granada, Spain and find a guitar from a luthier's shop and still spend less than you would getting it here in the US.

From where you live on the east coast it would be an easy trip. I am going to Granada this summer to hand pick a guitar and see the Alhambra!

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Too old ?

by Michael
(Scotland)

Hello, I have been playing the guitar (acoustic) for a number of years and I have just bought a classical guitar with the intention of learning to play this type of music.

Maybe I am a little bit ambitious because I have just purchased a Manuel Rodriguez C1 and I am 63 years old. I would be interested to know what you think as I am very keen.

Kind regards, Michael.


Hi Michael,

Excuse my emotion....NEVER, NEVER, NEVER!

Sorry Michael, I got carried away :))

But, you should NEVER believe you're too old for guitar or anything else for that matter. My opinion is that you only get one chance at life.

Why shouldn't we use it doing something we love?

Why should we compare ourselves to others?

Can't we just do it for the love of it?

Excuse me for talking about myself but I think it might be appropriate in your case. I started as a raw beginner in classical guitar when I was just over 24 years of age and I remember a guy fixing a string for me in a guitar shop trying to dissuade me from getting too excited about guitar because he said I was too old to really advance on the instrument.

I remember feeling really angry but controlled and thinking "I'll show you, you %*##@!". Anyway, I'm glad I had that sort of extreme reaction because if I'd just given in and believed him I wouldn't be sharing this website with all these wonderful people like you around the world.

Granted, I was lucky to get a really good teacher early on and I was quite a determined bugger but I think A-N-Y-O-N-E at A-N-Y age can improve if they really want to.

I hope this was of some inspiration!

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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too old
by: Anonymous

TOO OLD.....I'm just reached my middle years at 79..You are never too old to see a beautiful sunrise or sunset. I keep trying to barre but art and rhitis have better control....joe

To old? Really
by: James McCutcheon

Well, people that are in the business of selling or repairing or conducting business that would do anything but encourage anyone, even if you are NOT in the business, we should ALL encourage and help each other at every thing we endeavor. I never had drawn anything or done are, but my children said Dad you can do it just take this paper and just draw a bird so I did they said great things, my inner child felt so good I went on through the holidays to paint several water colors with them. They still have some on their walls in their homes.
I never have respect for discouragement. Time is irrelevant for enjoyment or purpose.
We are here to enjoy and a journey, savor each moment in what we do. We are music beings and in everything we do we are surrounded by art and love to be bombarded by beauty and Love.
James

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Playability of Classical Guitar

by Bob McIntyre
(Norfolk, VA)

I appreciate the opportunity to ask a question. I am an intermediate guitarist...frustrated on a plateau of age.

Nuff said, as you said in one of your instructions.

In any event, I am wondering if there are differences in the "action" of good classical guitars. Are some much more "playable" than others?

Electric and acoustic (steel) guitars are often set up to be "extremely fast." I have a suspicion this wouldn't work so well with classical guitars, but may be wrong.

I would appreciate any information you can provide.

Thanks,

Bob McIntyre

Hi Bob,

You are right on both accounts. The electric is "set up" to play faster and some classical guitars do have a faster action.

As an example, I have played most of my pieces on this site (youtube videos etc) on my old Yamaha Grand Concert guitar. It's a pretty good guitar but when I recently bought a much more expensive Paluino Bernabe guitar I didn't realise how much "faster" the action was. It seems even "silky smooth" to play and the sound quality is definitely better.

Another thing that may help is the strings that you use. I just found a supplier of Hannabach strings that are my favorites. I haven't used them for year’s ages ago but now I'm back with them I won't let them go so easily this time. I don't know if I'm imagining it but they also seem to help with my playing too.

Hope this has been of help.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Your kind response
by: Bob McIntyre

Trevor,
Thanks for your input. I have a Martin Classical Guitar (that some folks may not know much about) from 1970. (I wouldn't be surprise if this guitar were worth $1200-1800) It has always seemed decent, but I have never even held a really decent classical guitar. Not that I am naive...I have played many guitars and own seven. I just have never had the opportunity to play a $5000 or $7000 guitar.

Oh well. On another site that I found after posting my note, a guitar instructor, Mark Markle, discussed the importance of proper playing technique. He espoused getting rid of the vice grip (which is named after me "McIntyre Vice" and using the weight shifting of the left arm (if the player is right handed of course) to make difficult fingerings. I have tried in the past couple of days, but see no miracles. But then of course, the response is "patience, my son."

It is very tempting to play the classical stuff on my Godin electric classical. Extraordinarily playable like an standard rock electric but with "nylon" strings and a classical neck. (Actually, my neck is 1 7/8" at the nut--wider than a classical. Godin makes a 2.0" at the nut guitar, which I regret I did not purchase.

Thanks for all comments.

Bob

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When to use pima vs. i and m, or other combinations

by Laurie
(NY )

Hi. I am new to playing classical guitar. I was instructed to use my thumb (p) for the bass strings, and then my i, m, and a fingers for the first three strings.

This I understand. What confuses me is that the exercises in my guitar book tell me to us i and m (and sometimes p) in several instances where I thought, according to what I was told, I should use my m and a fingers.

Often it is when the notes being played are on the same line of the scale. Aside from those instances, is there a rhyme or reason to when you use pima, and when you just use the i and m fingers?

Sorry for the long question and thank you in advance to anyone who can shed light on it. :0)

Hi Laurie,

I tend to use the thumb for the bass strings and the i.m.a. fingers for the trebles as a GENERAL rule. However, it doesn't always work out that way.

An example where this would differ is if I'm playing the Villa Lobos Prelude # 3 in A minor. The opening run of notes uses a combination of p+i & p+m going from the 6th string to the 2nd or "B" string. That is, your thumb will play these notes in succession: E open 6th string; A open 5th string; D open 4th string; G open 3rd string; B open 2nd string.

All this in eighth notes while i & m fingers are playing: C,B; F,E; Bb,A; D,C#; G,F in 16th notes.

And that’s just the first bar & a bit!

There are numerous examples in the classical guitar repertoire where this type of "unorthodox" fingering occurs.

The main thing to keep in mind, in my opinion, is to be able to play with all those fingers fluently when they are called upon to do so. I even play some of my own arrangements with slightly different fingerings at times to how I've stated it should be played on the sheet music.

All this doesn't bother me because I learnt how to play properly initially, and when my fingers gained the desired fine motor control, I was able to play with slight variations without problems.

So I guess what it boils down to is stick to the basics first - thumb on bass strings, other fingers on trebles - and when you're "fluent" you can vary it a little to suit the musical purposes of the piece.

This is where the studies and short pieces of the classical guitar masters really come into their own because they develop the fine motor control and movement of the individual fingers and thus give you much greater control over your musicality and expression.

Hope this makes sense and helps,

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Characteristics of Good Classical Guitars...

by Alina
(MN)

I'm looking for a "classical" style guitar. What should I look for specifically? How can I tell that a guitar is better than another?

Hi Alina,

There are many reasons a classical guitar is a suitable one but you won't go far wrong if you stick to the major established brands. Most classical guitar makers have very high standards these days, otherwise, they'd be out of business.

Have a look at my page on buying a guitar here...

I hope this was of help.
Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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one guitar to another

Hi,

I'm a 'newbie', sorry if this sounds strange but I have two questions which might be some what related...

1) Can you learn chords on the Classical guitar, and if so, are they the same as the chords on the Acoustic/Electric guitars?

2) Once you've learned the Classical guitar, can you move on to the Acoustic guitar?

I'm learning Classical, which I find has a nice tune etc, but I was just wondering if it's the same...

Thanks.

Hi,

The chords you perform on a classical guitar are usually in context of a progression of the music. In other words, you're always playing chords, or part thereof, in the harmony but at the same time the melody is being played as well.

That's why it often seems like when you listen to a classical guitar that there's more than one instrument playing.

They are the same as other chords but are not often played in a "block" fashion i.e. one after another as in popular songs.

You can move onto acoustic guitar after learning classical, it is your choice. Indeed, often if you learn classical technique properly, it will stand you in good stead for playing other types of guitar because it really helps to develop your fine motor skills.

But remember, different styles usually have different technical requirements so it's not always 100% interchangeable. In general it's good to learn many styles, especially if that's your preference.

Hope this helps.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Cutaway guitars - pros and cons?

by Pete
(Conway, AR (USA))

Hi, Mr. Maurice
I've been enjoying your site immensely for some time now while waiting for my lessons to start, so first, thank you so much for the wonderful material you have up here.

I'm looking to upgrade my guitar, and wondered if you had any thoughts on whether or not to get a cutaway. Do you really need one to get to the higher frets, and are those frets necessary anyway? Does the cutaway affect the sound quality? Or the price (i.e. if I forgo the cutaway can I afford a nicer sounding guitar)?

Hi Pete,

Thanks for the nice comments, they're much appreciated.

I have a cutaway myself but don’t use it much. And no, you don’t need a cutaway to get to the higher notes on the upper frets but you do need to have mastered the technique of “hinging” your thumb to allow you to reach up to the higher frets.

If you play the Segovia scales the A Minor one will help you develop this technique. As you move past the 12th fret your thumb “slips” down the bottom of the fret board with the tip of the thumb still touching the base of the fret board. The lower part of the thumb is also resting on the lower bout just where the bout connects to the fret board at the 12th fret. This allows you to extend the fingers up to the higher frets to complete the scale.

Obviously, it’s the more advanced repertoire that uses the upper regions of the fret board but you need to practice “getting there” via scales so when you’re playing the advanced music you’re already prepared.

I don’t really think the cutaway affects the sound but I’m sure there would be many who disagree with me. And in terms of the price I think it’s a “much-of-a-muchness”, as they say.

Hope this helps.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Dominant Left Hand

by Brian Lambert
(Chandler, AZ)

I have read and been told that a left handed person should just learn to play on a right handed guitar. Does that advice hold true with classical guitar as well?

I am very left handed and while I had a few lessons on a steel string guitar 30 or so years ago, I am essentially a beginner.

Your thoughts please.

Hi Brian,

I'm not 100% sure on the exact answer to your question but I am also left-handed albeit for the "one-handed" things. For instance, when I write, I write left handed or throw a ball - left handed.

All the two-handed things like guitar or using a bat in ball games I'll do exclusively right handed, so I'm not sure if I'm the best person to answer your question.

I do, however, feel very comfortable playing right handed and couldn't conceive of myself ever playing left handed. Additionally, I didn't start playing a guitar until I was about 24 years of age either so I don't think age has got anything to do with it, it's how you practice and apply your knowledge.

Hope this is of help.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Lefty classical player
by: Anonymous

Essentially a right handed player is using their dominant hand to pluck or initiate the note. This is very crucial because the dominant hand will be in control of the execution and thus the rhythm/time/feel of the playing.

If right handed people play using their dominant hand to pluck or stroke then it makes sense for a left handed person to play lefty and thus use their dominant hand for plucking also.

If you argue that lefty should just play righty that is like saying all righties should just switch to lefty playing. The only reason lefties play righty (usually) is because a teacher will force them to switch so the teacher can teach or because there are few lefties guitars in stores etc..

I play both righty and lefty and I am a left handed person. I can attest to the fact that at least for my brain, when I play righty my left hand wants to initiate the time of a note and thus my right hand has to try to follow the left which is backwards. I can do it, I can force my left hand (fingering) to follow the right (plucking) but it is stiffer and I get very tired from it.

When I play lefty I can immediately feel that it is more natural and the left hand (plucking) is in control and the right hand (fingering) follows automatically and with ease.

I am sure it is possible for lefty to play righty and have that be better for them. Jimi Hendrix was a right handed person when using a pen or eating and he did play both ways I think I heard but he for what ever reason mainly played lefty so he was playing 'backwards' NOT using his dominant hand for plucking. There is a perfect example of how it can be aa personal thing.

My advice is to buy two very cheap guitars like in the $75 range from the same company and try playing each one day lefty one day righty and try to notice things how the hands work and then decide how to play. It does not matter that these guitars are cheap and don't sound very good if you get a cheap Yamaha classical or Hohner or Manuel Rogriguez it is not that much and you can sell them after your done and lose maybe $100

In my case I picked up a guitar when I was 12 and I picked it up 'backwards' and started playing it upside down. I went to the music teacher at school and he made me turn it around so he could teach me. That was a mistake I discovered later. I played righty for a few years and then on a hunch tried lefty and I am glad I did. Now I play both ways but with nails on classical I have to choose one or the other. I chose lefty.

By the way this R/L thing also applies to piano at least with me. I feel like I want to play melody with my left hand. I'd probably be able to play a left handed piano maybe someday someone will make one?

Dominant left hand
by: David Heap

I am also left handed but was told by my music teacher when I bought my one and only guitar to purchase a right hand instrument as the left hand then does all the fret work.

With all my disability problems I could not even think about playing any other way, all be it badly.

Just take your time learning and enjoy the sounds that you create.

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tremolo pieces

by Evan Plumpton
(Malta Europe)

I need to know how many pieces were written for tremolo apart from Recuerdos de la Alhambra and En Sueno en La Foresta.This will help in my thesis about the develpoment of the tremolo

Thanks in advance while looking forward to have a positive reply

Regards
Evan

Hi Evan,

That's quite a curious one and I must admit I'm not sure but I can say in my time I haven't come into contact with too much repertoire with tremolo. I have seen a few good publications on how to play tremolo properly (with some exercise pieces), namely: The Art of Tremolo and Complete Study of Tremolo For the Classical Guiar.

Perhaps there's someone out there who could give us a "head's up" on this one.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Left-Hand

by Abdul Mohsen
(K.S.A , Jeddah)

Hi,

I just want to ask you about the left hand. I'm a beginner and l'm having a problem with my left hand.

Are there any exercises I can do to make my left hand be fast and accurate on the strings?

Thank you.

Hi Abdul,

My first suggestion would be to learn and play scales. This is not only good for your left-hand development but your right hand at the same time because you need to coordinate both hands if you want to play well.

Scott Tennant, wring in his excellent book Pumping Nylon mentions there are many misconceptions about speed when playing the guitar.

He goes on to say there are four main elements to be mastered for the development of speed namely: Righ hand velocity; Synchronisation of the right and left hands; String crossing; Piecing together.

He then goes on to give explanations and musical practice examples which are all highly useful.

But to return to your main concern, when thinking about speed, you must practice the above-mentioned scales at a slow speed and increase the speed only gradually as you improve.

If you try to play too fast too soon you're only practicing mistakes which will form a bad habit that you'll then need to break.

Studies (etudes), arpeggios and further repertoire will round out your skill over time.

In fact, the studies that have been written in the past by people like Fernando Sor, Carcassi, Carulli, Aguado and Giuliani will really improve your playing of both hands if you learn them in an ordered or graded fashion.

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Thanks
by: AbdulMohsen

Thank you for all the information you wrote to me but which scale can I start with?

And what technique can I use in my right hand with the scale?

Hi again Abdul,

You can start with these easy scales and you can use rest stroke and free stroke for your right hand. To see how these strokes are played go here...

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Spanish Classical Guitar

by BobbyJoe
(Hickory, North Carolina)

For a beginner, what is the best classical guitar to use?

Hi BobbyJoe,

There are many good beginner guitars you could use. Have a look at my Guitar Store page here and scroll down to the "Yamaha CG151S Classical Guitar with Spruce Top Natural", it's a great beginner guitar and something I could recommend.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Thinking about getting one.

by Zach
(College Station Tx )

I have been playing a regular acoustic guitar for a couple a years and am a decent player.

I would like to get a classical guitar since I do a lot more picking than strumming and was wondering where to start.

Whats a good price for one?

What is even a good classical guitar to get?

Do regular tabs work for classical guitars?

Sorry about the amount of seemingly stupid questions, I just would like a couple opinions before I invest in a classical guitar.

Hi Zach,

I think the price is a personal preference depending on affordability and level of experience.

I recently spent many thousands on my new Paulino Bernabe but am extremely happy with it and think it is well worth the money.

Some of my personal favorites are Paulino Bernabe (of course): Ramirez; Yamaha ( I own a Yamaha Grand Concert as well). I'd have no hesitation recommending these guitars.

Have a look on my Guitar Store page to get an idea of other models and prices...

And yes, tabs do work for classical. If you look at any of the pages where I have free sheet music with music notation, I also have tabs for all of those.

Take a look at the Free Lessons page for instance...

I hope this has been of help.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Expressing music while playing

by Simant Thapa
(Nepal)

Hi Trevor,

I've been playing classical guitar for the past few years but the problem I realized with my playing is I sound more technical than musical i.e my music sounds fade and becomes meaningless.

So I was wondering if you could kindly give me advice to improve my playing. Also if there is any book that can help me please let me know.

Thank you,
Simant Thapa

Hi Simant,

Firstly, don't be too hard on yourself, I think we all go through that feeling that you describe. I'll give you some tips further below but I think this little story might help you...

Some years ago, before I made this website, I recorded a C.D. of classical guitar pieces to sell at a special event for a school I was working in. The money from the C.D. was to go to the school and I was going to just recover the costs of hiring the studio.

Well, all went well I thought until I got back the master tape from which to make the copies. I was horrified! My sound, to me, was awful and I was really worried that no one would buy the C.D.

The guy who owned and was running the studio was in a very famous rock band in Australia called "Mental As Anything". He said to me at the time that virtually everyone who goes through the recording process went through the same feelings when they first heard themselves back. But after a while that feeling just seems to fade.

I think it's like when you hear your own voice back on a recording and you say to yourself (or even out loud!)... "I just can't sound like that, it just couldn't be me."

Luckily, he was right. The C.D. sounded o.k. after a while and I went on to sell all the copies + I had to make more for the extra demand. I made money for the school, recovered my costs and got a lot of nice comments from people who bought the C.D. That gave me more confidence for the future, especially when I decided to make this website.

If you want to do something practical though I'd suggest you get this book...Classical Guitar Pedagogy

There are three books contained within it. You want to read specifically Book 3 on "Musicianship". That contains the chapters 16-21 and covers subjects such as musical aesthetics; dynamics; timbre; articulation; phrasing; mental dynamics; mental orchestration; mental practicing; analysis for interpretation.

This book really helped me with my sound, how I understand the music, phrase the music and even how I "feel" the music. It was quite invaluable in my "journey" on classical guitar and I'd highly recommend you read and absorb the ideas if you want to improve your own sound quality.

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Feel
by: lee

I have tried to get this across to pupils learning on http://www.guitarscale.co.uk/ but feel is the ingredient X which is not easy to describe.

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How to get right hand speed

by Ulises Victoria
(Monterrey, Mexico)

Im a bit confused. What is the best approach to develop speed?

Some say... "practice always slowly and increase speed as you feel comfortable with the present speed"

Others say... "start slowly and increase speed until you push it over your limit; until you can't play anymore at that speed, and then decrease slowly"

Even others say... "Practice always at top volume to increase strength"

So what are your thoughts on this matter?

Ulises
Monterrey Mexico

Hi Ulises,

I tend to prefer the first two you mentioned above. I think you need to start at a slow pace so that your brain, particularly the subconscious mind, can absorb what you're teaching it.

I find that if you practice too fast too early you tend to be practicing mistakes. Your subconscious mind can't distinguish between a mistake or not. It just accepts what you're teaching it.

The subconscious mind is excellent as a learning tool because you need to get to a level of playing where you're not consciously thinking about it but have subconscious mastery and can, as a famous brand name says, just do it!

If you practice slowly, carefully and accurately and then increase the speed incrementally, you will probably "learn" fewer mistakes in your playing. Additionally, I believe your overall sound will be better for it as well.

In truth, there are many different viewpoints on this. My advice is to go with well-established teachers of guitar that will give you tried, tested and accurate advice. For example Anthony Glise, writing in Classical Guitar Pedagogy has interesting ideas about speed development including; right and left hand speed development; accuracy in fast passages. His book is widely accepted as one of THE best books on the market for classical guitar development (in many areas).

Finally, try to see what's best for you. If it doesn't work out, drop it and move onto something that does.

I hope this has been of some help.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Tremolo Study

by Gouranga Debnath
(India)

Hello! Mr. Maurice. I have picked up the tremolo technique for quite some time now but playing the Recuerdos de la Alhambra seems to be problematic.

One main reason is that the sound that I am producing is not at all loud and it's getting softer as my fingers are getting tired.

Is practice the only solution or do I need to change a bit in terms of my technique? Please help!

And could you name some good tremolo musical pieces???

Hi Gouranga,

In his book Pumping Nylon Scott Tennant suggests... "The key to playing a good tremolo is not speed, as most students believe, but evenness of articulation. The more articulate each note, the faster the tremolo seems. the more articulate the tremolo, the more control we have over it."

He goes on to give a "psychological outlook" for playing tremolo and includes some musical examples to play and improve your tremolo technique.

His DVD also demonstrates the technique points in the book.

I must say I agree with Mr Tennant on this one. My tremolo was actually quite weak and lopsided, just as he states in his book until I practiced more articulation.

I highly recommend you get that book if you haven't got it already, absorb the information and practice the technique.

I hope this has been of help.

Trevor M.

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cool tip
by: Qays

this tip will come in handy when I aim to learn the tremolo when the time comes..thanks man

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Music Notation Question

by Jeff Stanley
(San Antonio, Texas)

Hi Mr. Maurice,
I just printed up your Chromatic Exercise and your study of Major and Minor Scales, to use as exercises. And I have a beginner's question about the notation on the Chromatic Exercise, specifically the diagonal lines.

In the 8th measure there's an upward-sloping diagonal line between the G# and the A; in the 10th and 11th there's downward one between the Db and the C and in the 11th and 12th there's a downward one between the A and the Ab. My question is, how are these supposed to be played?

Thank you for all you do.

Sincerely,
Jeff


Hi Jeff,

Those lines simply mean to move to another position on the guitar. For example, "between the G# and the A" in the video, you'll notice I move from the 4th fret to the 5th fret but change my left-hand fingers from the 4th finger to the first finger. I am now in the position to play the other notes. It's the same for the other "diagonal lines" whether going up or down the frets, it's where you move into position.

It's amazing what you (meaning me) can take for granted. It didn't occur to me to put in an explanation for those lines and I now see I must, so thanks for pointing it out Jeff.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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P I M A

by Elie
(US)

First of all, thanks a lot for this wonderful website. I like the music sheet with TAB and the videos!!! What more one can get!

While playing the music, I am having difficulty figuring out what finger (p, i, m, or a) to use on the strings. Sometimes it is difficult to see it on the video.

Would it be possible (here comes a demanding student!) to add the letters p, i, m, a on top of each note on future music sheet. That way, I will learn to play the song without picking the wrong fingers and catching bad habits.

Again, thanks for this excellent website.

Elie

Hi Elie,

Thanks for all the wonderful comments. In terms of p.i.m.a. don't get too hung up on it. It's really a guide, albeit a good one. Remember that everyone's different.

The days of Segovia slamming his cane on the floor and demanding fingerings being changed back to what he wrote (he actually did this to a young Christopher Parkening) are long over.

Don't get me wrong, I love Segovia, his playing, music and what he achieved for the guitar but times have moved on. There's no need to be as "fixated" as he was.

You'll notice even in my videos that my fingering doesn't always match what I've written on the arrangement. That's because I've learnt to "trust" my fingers and know that they'll be able to play the notes automatically, as it were.

You've got to get to the point where all your fingers are "strong" enough to play the music. It comes with practice and time.

Hope this helps.

Trevor M.

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Guitar buzzing

by qays
(brunei)

I'm having trouble with my guitar, I should proably mention that I never changed the strings, even when I bought it..

Anyway, my problem is well..yeah buzzing.

I know that the proper technique is that you play close to the edge of the frets, but I notice it still buzzes sometimes.

And I suspect it's because the strings are to close to the fretboard (well, that's what I ASSUME through observation). It especially buzzes when I try to play loud. I am forced to play close to the bridge to remove the buzzing, but it only seems to occur for the lower strings. The higher strings...not so much.

What do you think I should do?

Hi Qays,

I've mentioned recently on this forum about string buzzing. There are several reasons you can get buzzing noises. One of the main ones is the "action" of the string, which is to say the distance of the string above the fret, as you mentioned above.

If the construction of the guitar is poor and the neck proportions aren't right the vibrating string will hit the neck at some point along the guitar neck when you play a note.

You could also check to see if the ends of the string (either wound in the capstan of the headstock or the other end touching the soundboard where the string is threaded through at the bridge) is vibrating against something when you play the note.

You can take it to a guitar repair shop where they can adjust the action of your strings.

And yes, changing the strings could help too! :)

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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It might not be the guitar that's actually buzzing.
by: Josh

I have a Yamaha full size classical guitar that I thought had an annoying buzz, especially when the bass strings were plucked.

I examined the guitar top to bottom and checking the inside for any possible abnormality that may have been the "buzz culprit." My search reaped no successes. I still heard the buzz.

I took the guitar to an instrument repair shop and the tech said that my guitar didn't have any buzzes. I was stymied! When I returned home with my guitar I sat down to play and sure enough the buzz was heard! By now I was furious.

I felt like putting my fist through the guitar (no I didn't do it.) To conclude all of this, I finally detected the source of buzz. It happened to be a metal picture frame on my wall in back of where I play my guitar! Who could've imagined that it was a piece of artwork that was vibrating on the wall?!

I decided to face the artwork while strumming my guitar and sure enough the buzz was real loud. I took the artwork off the wall and no more buzz!

The bass notes on my classical are quite punchy and I guess if some surrounding object is just the right density it?ll rattle too.

guitar repair
by: Anonymous

You can find a guitar repair shop at http://www.repairmyguitar.com

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Guitar size.

How do I know what size classical guitar to get?

Hi,

It depends on how big you are of course. Children often have 1/2, 3/4 or even 5/8 size guitars and most adults would have a full size.

One rule of thumb is to stand the guitar on its base next to your side with the headstock pointing upwards. If the tip of the headstock reaches your waist then that guitar is the right size for you.

Remember, this is only a rough guide. You have to take into account the size of your hands and fingers and if indeed, if the guitar "feels" right for you.

I hope this helps.
Trevor M.

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Recording Classical Guitar on a Computer

by Patricia Jankowski
(Michigan, USA)

Hi Trevor,

I would like to ask what you think is a good and inexpensive method for recording my own classical guitar playing on my computer.

On the advice of a friend, I have downloaded some great looking software from a site called Audacity.com, which is for recording itself.

However, I need some type of microphone.

I do not want an amplifier or complicated equipment...all I really want is a simple microphone that I can plug into my computer to use with the software I've already downloaded.

I'm looking to not spend too much...less than $100, maximum, for right now.

I'd really love to hear any advice you may have on this subject...also, any advice about where the microphone would be placed...i.e., on a stand, on the guitar itself, etc...would be very useful. I am lost when it comes to technology and really just want to focus on sharing the playing with online friends.

Thanks very much in advance and thank you for a truly great guitar website!

Patricia

Hi Patricia,

I must say, technology wise I'm not that savvy either :)) When I record my pieces for youtube or my study course the microphone is within the cameras themselves.

I googled this term...


"best microphone for recording classical guitar"

and came up with this site...


http://www.delcamp.net/forum/en/viewtopic.php?t=2995

Have a look through to see if it can give you any tips.

I hope this is of help.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Recording on your personal computer.
by: Bob Anderson

I have been using a program from DAK. It cost less than 20 dollars. A one time fee. YOU will be able to record and make a CD of your playing if you want to. The mike I'm using came from Radio shack and was less than 20 dollars. The quality is great. I just let the mike hang on it's wire about a foot or so from my guitar. Good Luck. Just Google DAK home recording.

Recording on the computer
by: Nick

If you are just talking about simple recording for your own use or sharing with friends, most computers have a built in microphone on the monitor.

Or better yet, a simple mike can be purchased at your local Radio Shack or some such place and plugged into the mic port on the back of the computer. You can use this with the most likely present standard "record software" that is present in the computer.

I've used this technique for myself and it works fairly OK.

Nick

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tension in the left hand and shoulder

by jaybee

Hello!

I am experiencing tension in the left shoulder, and to a lesser extent in the left hand when I am playing.

I haven't played in close to 20 years, and recently picked up the guitar again. I hold the guitar on my left leg, and have experimented with using a footstool, not using a footstool, adjusting the chair height, etc. but can't seem to find a solution.

After playing for about a hour, my left shoulder is cramped, as it tends to elevate up in the direction of my left ear. I try to consciously keep the left shoulder relaxed when I am working on scales, but when I move to reading and playing actual music, the tension returns.

Do you have any suggestions to alleviate this problem? I don't want to continue to practice bad habits. My goal is to be able to play with no tension in either arm and hand, as I don't want that tension to be expressed in the sound coming out of my guitar.

Thank you!
jaybee

Hi jaybee,

If you haven't played for 20 or so years and then are doing over an hour pratice in any one session I'd say that's where your problem lies.

You must give your body and muscles time to adjust because they're just not used to it.

Id suggest practicing in smaller blocks of about 15 minutes at a time. It'll give your muscles the break they need and you'll also find your more "fresh" mentally each session.

Breaking up your practice sessions in this manner over the day is the best way. You'll find you're still practicing for the same amount of time but just in smaller blocks.

It's also good that you're noticing the tension and alleviating at the time it occurs. Doing that in the "now", as it were, is the only way to make it a lasting subconscious habit.

I hope this has been of help.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Muting

I am wanting to know how much muting is done on classical guitar and how?

I know from playing acoustic and electric guitar that the hands and fingers are used in many ways to mute but don't see this used in classical guitar.

Does this mean that notes often ring on beyond their designated length or am I missing something?
Mandy

Hi Mandy,

Classical guitarists use both left-hand and right-hand muting techniques. Often when a note needs to be played staccato, for instance, the right-hand thumb, it is put back on the string quickly before you go on to the next note.

As I said, this could be very brief and almost undetectable to the eye if they're really good!

Also stopping the strings can be done with the fingers of the left hand. Watch how quickly and efficiently Denis Azerbagic does this when teaching on youtube.

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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What classical guitar?

by Allan
(NJ)

I used to have a guitar when I was in my teens but for some reason, I stopped.

I want to start learning again. What classical guitar can you recommend in the $300's range maybe $500 tops?

Looking forward to your reply,
Allan

Hi Allan,

There are many good guitars in that range but remember, $500 isn't an expensive price for a guitar. The sound should be adequate.

I'd recommend one like this Cordoba classical/electric guitar here...

Or, you could even browse my Guitar Store page to see a variety of what's available.

Hope this helps,
Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Practice Schedule?

by Keith Seaman
(Lexington, Kentucky, USA)

How often and how much do you practice?

I am RE-beginning after about 10 years of being away from my guitar.
I feel like could easily practice 2 - 3 hours a day and not be "finished".
HOWEVER ... at most I get about 30 - 45 min at 5:00 am and cannot practice every day due to schedule...
Maybe just seeking encouragement here...

Thanks.

Hi Keith,

I think I'm just like you...and perhaps everybody! It's always hard to find time to practice unless you really come up with some goals and strategy to do so.

Here's one example: I make use of "useless time". What does that mean? Well, if there's a show on television I want to watch I use the advertisement time with that show to practice. This is a very good strategy for practicing say a technique problem or difficult passage.

This is how I do it: I wait until the ad comes on TV I have my guitar handy and the piece or section I want to practice. The ads usually last at least 3 minutes. I mute the TV. and then I use repetition to go over the piece/section slowly for those 3 minutes. When I see out of the corner of my eye that the show is on again I stop playing and rest.

In the average 1 hour television show there's at least 5 ad breaks. 5x3= 15 minutes of very good practice time.

I've used this method even for practicing Giuliani right-hand studies and it works a treat, as they say. Psychologically you know it's only a short time to practice but added together over the period of a whole evening it can really add up!

Additionally, here's some really good advice on practice routines from Christopher Davis from The Classical Guitar Blog...


I hope this was of help.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

P.S. Anyone else with their thoughts on practice routines or other tips feel free to join the conversation.

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Learning Classical Guitar - Teacher or Self-paced?

by Howard
(Detroit, MI, USA)

I've been playing guitar for over 25 years and since getting a bit older (40's) I've been enjoying playing Classical/Fingerstyle.

Being an engineer by trade, I approach the guitar with as much precision and knowledge as I can gather from books/magazines.

To be a competent Classical guitar player (not looking to become the next Christopher Parkening...no time!! :) ) does one need to seek the guidance of a teacher for technique or can the myriad technique/method books be sufficient?

Hi Howard,

I think the answer to that question might be personal choice/need. I'm sure some people like yourself have less need of a teacher because you have that analytical mind and background, so it's easier in a sense to work your way logically through the material.

It is comforting, however, to have someone with knowledge give you feedback on your playing and some advice on where you might improve. This may be in a mentor role for example.

I know myself, being a trained teacher that I have mainly taught myself using a logical approach to study and practice just like you. I had to do it logically as I didn't start playing guitar until I was in my early twenties similar to you.

That is not to say I didn't have teachers in the beginning. Indeed, although I was studying with Adam for a short time (due to his early death) I did learn a lot about "learning the guitar" from him. Especially I learnt how to analyse and approach a piece of music.

Additionally, he was very strong on playing through scales and the repertoire of studies and etudes as they give you: finger strength, flexibility, fine motor control, stamina etc.

Also now, in the age of youtube, it's easy to watch a video of some of the greats play and you can learn a lot from just watching and listening.

Obviously, the more of our senses we use to learn something the more completely we will learn it. When I started playing guitar there was no youtube so I bought a lot of records – yes vinyl!

This really helped me though as I absorbed a lot stylistically from how they played through just listening. And VHS tapes worked a treat as well :))

Perhaps you can continue on as you have been i.e. self-taught from books etc and arrange/book some lessons of a specific nature or technique requirement from a teacher on a part-time basis.

If you isolate the areas you want to improve in, write them down and then get some specific advice on those, then you'll find you'll probably improve more quickly. And it'll be less expensive!!

I hope this has been of help.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Guitar tuning.

by Siobhan
(Scotland )

How do you know how to tune your guitar for a song such as Hey There Delilah?

Hi Siobhan,

Most songs/classical guitar pieces etc are tuned using "standard guitar tuning". This consists of having the "A" note on the 1st string (at the 5th fret) tuned to 440 hertz - the standard the world over.

After you've managed this the other strings can be tuned accordingly as it will be in "concert pitch". For instance, when the first string has been tuned as mentioned it is then "E" on the open note. You then tune the second string to "B", the third string to "G", 4th string "D", 5th string "A" and the 6th string to "E" (two octaves below the first string.

Of course, if you get an electronic tuner or even use an online tuner you can get the readings and not have to worry about the theory at all. Or, to improve your ear you can tune the strings one against the other once you have that first "E" string at 440 hertz.

Many songs/ guitar pieces have alternate tunings but that's another story!

For more on guitar tuning go here...

I hope this was of help.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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oh yeah, also!
by: Q-Zinny

Most pop songs including hey there delilah are standard tuning. The basic (from 1st string to 6th string) E,B,G,D,A,E.

Metal songs are USUALLY standard tuning, some would use drop-D which is E,B,G,D,A,D. The lowest string which was meant to be E is now D, hence, drop-D.

And of course, there are songs which have different tunings, I'm a bit of a metalhead, and I know for a fact that opeth uses a...er...I don't know what you call it, but the tuning is D,A,F,D,A,D. Really different I know, but the song that comes out from it is just, beautiful...


One last note, if you're into songs like hey there delilah, stick to standard tuning. However, if you feel that the standard tuning doesn't seem to be the right one, I suggest you find the tabs in a website like www.ultimateguitar.com and look at what the tuning says.

Also, if the song has more than one tab, please look at all and compare, as one tab might suggest this tuning, and another tab with another tuning. If this happens, try both tabs and use your instincts to tell you which one seems more right/comfortable/pleasing to your hands placement on the fret blablabla you get the picture.

damn, I wanted to say one more thing but I forgot...nvm, hope this helps!

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Searching for a teacher or following a disciplines self-teaching process

by Senay Isin
(Sweden)

Hello, Thank you for designing such a site. My question is basically what your opinion and recommendation on starting learning classical guitar after a long time break.

I have trouble in "how to start" I think the worst thing about my learning process of classical guitar was learning by seeing. I think it is Suzuki method. That prevented me to make progress in continuing my study when alone. I turned back to simple rules on reading notes and performing with guitar simultaneously.

So, do you think I should process by myself and which method and steps should I cover? Where should I start again, or do you think I should proceed with a teacher?

If so, could you recommend me one in Gothenburg, Sweden? Would only online course help me in forming a disciplined learning process? Best regards, Senay Isin

Hi Senay,

Having a teacher is obviously good because they can see directly any problems you have and advise you accordingly (if they're good of course! :))

I'm sorry I don't live in Sweden so I wouldn't know any good teachers there. Perhaps one of my site visitors reading this are from Sweden and could respond to this entry.

There are a number of good books to give you guidance. Many, like Pumping Nylon by Scott Tennant come with a D.V.D. version so you can see what he is doing as if in front of you.

Actually, I do recommend some pretty good books if you're looking to get back into playing. You can see them on this page...

Additionally, look out for my very own Classical Guitar Study Course . They'll be some modifications and upgrades very soon and it's designed to help the beginner to intermediate player develop a strong technique.

I hope this was of help.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Choice of classical guitar

by Phil
(Thailand)

Hello,

I have a Fender Strat and Epi for blues and jazz stuff. I guess I am intermediate level. However, I should like to learn classical guitar.

I know from experience it is counter productive buying entry level instruments? So my question is what make of classical guitar has a good action, volume, and TONE?

I have about £650 to spend. I was looking at buying what appears to be a good instrument Liikanen I500C (Finnish).

Have you any thoughts? I am a left handed player. Currently, in the Far East but will buy when I'm in the UK.

Phil

Hi Phil,

There are many good classical models for that price with a... "good action, volume, and TONE."

I would suggest a Yamaha or even a Ramirez S1 entry model guitar because of their high quality, even for a beginner.

Have a look on this page to get an idea.

I hope this helps.
Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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which guitar?

I would like your opinion as to what guitar would be better for me. I used to play classical guitar when I was young and now I want to start playing again.

I have my eye on two models...Yamaha CG171S Spruce Top Classical Guitar or the Yamaha CG171SF Flamenco Guitar.

Is there a big difference with the classical and the flamenco guitar? Let me know what you think.

Thank you.

Hi!

If you want to play classical then I'd go for the Yamaha CG171S. It is purpose built for what you want. The Yamaha CG171SF on the other hand is a Flamenco guitar, and yes, there are differences between the Flamenco and the classical.

As I've written on this site previously... "The flamenco guitar is constructed using different woods, has a thinner soundboard and a shallower body than the classical guitar. This is to help its peculiar tonal qualities of warm tone and greater "attack" than the classical guitar but leads to a shorter sustain of notes."

I hope this is of help.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Is it time for my old guitar to retire?

by David
(France)

My guitar must be at least 30 years old (my dad bought it for me second-hand about 25 years ago).

I've no idea of the make or model as there are no distinctive markings. It's spent the last 15 years unused in a case in my cellar (which probably didn't do it much good).

During a recent house-move I came across my guitar, tuned it up and started playing it again.
It still makes a beautiful sound and I thoroughly using your free lessons to get reacquainted with my old friend (thanks Trevor).

However, I've noticed the distance between the fretboard and the strings is not the same along the neck. Its as if the neck has bent forward over the years. The strings are much higher from the 5th fret onwards. So much so that when I'm playing near the base of the neck, I really have to push hard to get a clear sound and make a conscious effort to move my fingers from one string to another.

Can this be repaired?

Or is it time for my old friend to retire?

Kind regards,
David

Hi David,

It sounds as though the problem you're having is the "string action" which means the distance of the strings from the fretboard.
It is easy to fix if indeed, there has been no underlying damage or warping of the neck.

Any decent guitar shop should be able lessen the height of the strings from the fretboard quite easily.

My advice would be to take it to a guitar/repair shop and get a quote of cost and/or damage sustained. It would be a shame to have to get a new guitar especially as it still "makes a beautiful sound".

Hope this helps.

Trevor M.

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Old guitars with warped neck
by: Donna

I have an old harmony that is about 40 years old, and it sounds great. You might want to loosen up the strings, put the neck part in a dresser drawer then place a book or two on it for weight. Wait a bit a few weeks and see if you made any progress. It has worked for my guitar. I have a lot of people who hear my guitar and love the sound. I hope this makes sense, a guy from Martin guitar tought me that trick.

News from the guitar shop...
by: David

Hi Trevor,

I followed your advice and took my guitar to a specialist shop... not good news.

He said it wasn't worth repairing, I could buy a new guitar of similar quality for near enough the same price.

While I was there I asked about the make and model... I shouldn't have; he said it was a bog standard, cheapo guitar. Similar quality new ones cost about 100 Euros. I tried one, mine still sounds way better!!!

Oh well, at least I now know that its made of Cedar. I guess I'll hang on to it whilst I'm still learning. Looks like the old girl will have to retire :-(

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reply to sitting posture

by Frank
(Ridgefield, CT.)

The high footstool can certainly have a lot to do with back pain. This type of position throws your hips out of alignment, and can lead to lower back discomfort.

Thus, many classical guitarists are opting for alternate sitting positions. A simple lowering of your footstool and placing a rolled up towel or cloth under the bout of the guitar to provide elevation may be a solution.

A-Frames and other devices that can be placed on your left leg to prop up the guitar can also help. You can adjust the height with some of these devices, while keeping both feet flat on the floor. Definitely more comfortable for your lower back than the footstool arrangement.

I'm convinced, that the footstool position is just not for everybody. Prominent players such as Paul Galbraith today, with his "cello" position, and all the way back to Fernando Sor, provide examples of guitarists searching for and utilizing sitting alternatives.

There are also players today,like Grigory Goryachev, who cross-over between classical and flamenco repertoire, who sit in the contemporary flamenco position (guitar on the right leg) a la Paco de Lucia.

All this is to say that the "proper" sitting position can be something that is more personal than standardized. Search for what will give you the most comfort, support of, and access to the whole playing surface of the guitar. You will find that in different positions, one of the above factors will be slightly compromised in favor of another.

Be open to change, and progressive alterations in your search, until you find what really works best for you, your body, and your ease of playing.

Hope this helps a bit...

Frank

This a wonderful, thoughtful response and very helpful. Congratulations Frank for the work you put into this.

Trevor M.

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Jose Ramirez 125 Anos anniversary guitar

Have you ever seen or read anything on the Ramirez 125 Anos?

I have been reading a lot on it and it sounds like it would be a nice guitar. I cannot afford to spend the money that you spent on your guitar but I am looking for the best I can get for around $2500.

Unfortunately, I live in an area where actually being able to see and play the guitar before purchase is just that, a thought. So I will have to rely on other peoples reviews and hopefully your help to pick one out.

So if you can advise me on the 125 Anos I would be truly grateful.

Thanks Trevor,
Mike Lucas, Ont. Canada

Hi Mike,

I actually was going to buy a Ramirez before I bought my Paulino Bernabe but they didn't have that model at the time. But, I'm so pleased with the Bernabe, I think it was "made" for me.

I would like a Ramirez in the future though. I've heard the Ramirez 125 Anos is a lovely "limited edition" guitar with Indian rosewood and red cedar I think, although I've never actually played one.

They are around about $2500 - $3000 depending on where you buy it but as with any Ramirez, worth every penny in my humble opinion.

Maybe someone else has had experience with this model and could perhaps post a reply for Mike.

Regards,
Trevor M.

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Jose Ramirez 125
by: Randy

I as well just picked up this guitar, I have the Cedar top version, although I compared it to the Spruce, witch is awesome too, I just preferred the Cedar for my style. I must have played 10 guitars in the shop, and this was just the best sounding one, was so clear, well balance, great playability. I also had three to choose from, so got the pick of the litter!! All 3 were great, very consistent, but I got the one with the best top. The things I would look for, which is why it's best to play before you buy, glue inside guitar around bracing, build up around tuners, easily removed, play on third string up the neck for sustain, even at 12th fret, this were you find buzzing, the floor model had some of this. The more I play the guitar, the better I like it, one, and done!

get one
by: Anonymous

Ramirez 125 I bought 2 year now. I owned Cordoba 45r, I played a lot of top of the line Ramirez Guitars, but Ramirez 125 Anos has a sound that really put me into spell bound. No matter what strings you put into it. (though I prefer La Bella) The tone quality is perfectly balance and the playability far better than cordoba.
For that price...WOW get one, own it and the older it gets the brighter the sound.

Jose Ramirez 125 anos
by: Anonymous

The guitar has a "growl" and typical spanish sound.
It has amazing basses and full loud and clear trebles, and if you ask me I would rate it as a concert guitar, its just a magnificent instrument, and you can actually compare it with higher priced guitars up to 4000$/5000$, and you can't really say that those are much better. Although maybe its not a
real downside, but the guitar doesn't really work with super hard tension strings, but you don't really need them because it has a loud sound, even with lower tension string, and actually when you play with lower tension strings it has a more beautiful sound.

Ramirez 125 anos
by: Dan

Hi

I got my Ramirez just over a year ago, and am afraid to say that I just can't seem to get on with it.

The tone is quite exceptionally warm and full, and everything I was looking for. The bass is wonderfully deep and resonant, but the trebles have little sustain in comparison and lack clarity as you move up the fret board.

It also seems a rather "difficult" instrument to play, and it's consistantly hard work to get the most out of it, even after a professional set up. Perhaps I just picked up a dud.

Having since played a great many classical guitars I'd definitely check out a Martin classical. It may seem an odd choice, but they are not as sought after as the steel strung models, meaning you can buy vintage for around the same price as the ramirez. They are very responsive, with an even, highly focused tone across the entire spectrum.

Hope you find what you're looking for!

Cheers

Dan

125
by: Anonymous

I bought a used Ramirez 125 from the 12th Fret for 1500 and i dont regret it at all. Beautiful guitar with a full loud sound. I suggest you look for one or go to the 12th Fret, they have a lot of nice classical guitars.

Jose Ramirez 125 Anos DEMO
by: Anonymous

http://www.acousticguitar.com/media_files/audio/181/Ramirez_Intro_and_Ex.1.mp3

Geoff

ramirez 125 anos
by: Anonymous

I purchased mine 2 years ago. its a beautiful guitar and it just gets better with age. its truly a huge spanish sound. ! love it.

Ramirez 125 Anos
by: Anonymous

Mike, the 12th Fret in Toronto has the Ramirez 125 Anos in the price range you are after. I recently bought mine from them - the German Spruce topped version. It is amazing, go down there and play one, you will not be disappointed...

Rob

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Yamaha silent classical guitar?

by Claude
(Houston, Texas)

Do you recommend the Yamaha slg130nw classical silent guitar as a good practice instrument for those living in apartments or traveling often? Hoever this guitar is expensive.

Hi Claude,

I don't have one myself but I have seen them and they look really cool as well as being a handy practice item. I guess it comes down to affordability because it's not going to be a problem in terms of quality.

I guess you're going to have to make that final decision :)) Sorry I couldn't give you more information but I hope it helps in some way to give you more clarity on your decision.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

P.S. You're right, it is expensive but I suppose it'll last a very long time. Here's the latest price I could find...

Yamaha SLG130NW Silent Acoustic/Electric Guitar


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Abso-posi-lutely
by: Dave

Try one, they are AMAZING!!!! I have the steel string version and it's my third child. Love is too weak a word. Looks like it should be hanging on the wall of an art museum, but like butter in your hands. Sound is great. Go get 'em.

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Mexican influence on classical guitar

by Jujubeans
(B'ham, UK)

I was wondering if there is a Mexican influence on classical guitar. Although a lot of the old spanish masterpieces are great the main reasons I want to play classical is after listening to either flamenco or some more modern day Mexican guitar.

I don't wish to grow my nails long so would learning flamenco at 25 years old with short nails be a little ambitious.

Please reply.

Hi Jujubeans,

I'm not an expert on Flamenco but I'm sure they take as much care of their nails as classical guitarists do. They are quite meticulous in preparing their nail length and surface quality i.e. filing and shaping their nails.

As for being ambitious, I myself started playing classical guitar at about 24 years of age and have made good progress over the years (if this is not too boastful :)) with the aid of persistence, application, desire and an open heart and mind in terms of listening and learning.

I hope this is of help.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Mexican influence on classical guitar
by: Ulises

Hello. First of all, Flamenco music is not from Mexico, but from Spain. Many people in USA and other countries tend to intermix these two cultures and very often take Spanish music as Mexican music.

As for the Mexican influence of Mexican music in classical guitar, there has been some Mexican composers whose works have been transcripted for guitar. An example that comes to my mind is the song Estrellita, by Manuel M Ponce, which was arranged and I think recorded by Segovia. You may search the web for these persons. Jorge Ritter,Ernesto García de León, Arturo Fuentes, Carlos Chavez, Jesús Silva.
Best regards.

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Guitarist with hand tremors

by Susan
(Manassas, VA)

I took classic guitar lessons in high school but had to stop because of an inherited condition called BET, or benign essential tremor.

I had DBS, deep brain stimulation, which eliminated the tremor to 95% in the right hand and 90% in the left hand.

I've started taking lessons again, after thirty years of not playing,and now,for almost a year of lessons I'm playing and I'm beginning to progress.
I have a good teacher who is encouraging me to do more pieces that are "exercises", such as a chromatic study by Franco Tarrega.

I'm rebuilding hand strength by squeezing tennis balls. Does anyone have ideas for exercises? Music or otherwise?

Would a metronome help? What type?
Thank you.

Hi Susan,

Looks like you've had your fair share of problems but it's admirable the way you've decided to overcome your problem and enjoy playing guitar again.

Sounds as though your teacher has you on the right path. And yes, a metronome would be a good idea.

You can use this free online metronome or buy one from the store. They're pretty inexpensive and most do the same basic but good job.

You also might want to look at this page about the metronome...

Additionally, here is another chromatic exercise and other scales with free sheetmusic and a video.

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Disabilities
by: David

Reading your comments about hand shake has inspired me to write.

Over 4 years ago I was unfortunate enough to suffer 2 strokes and 2 bouts of pneumonia (thank god for spell check).

Several years prior to this I purchased a classical guitar, had 4 lessons then put it away saying "I will never learn to play this" A couple of years ago I found to no surprise I had lots of time on my hands and no interests that's, when the guitar resurfaced.

A set of strings later and a good Music teacher I can now play somethings badly and some things very badly. Due to my rigth side paralysis I find keeping time rather difficult and playing the notes as quickly as I should but Moon river sounds ok to me. I enjoy playing I don't care how bad I am.

Sorry about your condition but I am just a Brit who does not understand.

Keep playing.

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Understanding basic notation

by John
(Chicago area, Illinois, U.S.A.)

Some background first: I'm starting out on teaching myself a little bit of very basic fingerstyle and I have almost no musical experience other than teaching myself non-classical acoustic guitar over the last twelve months.

I'm just now learning how to read music. I bought "Pumping Nylon" and Noad's "100 Graded Classical Guitar Studies" and I started looking through these and I am stumped. Please help!

I can't quite figure out the meaning of the numerical markings next to the individual notes. They look like finger markers for the left hand, e.g., 1 = Index finger, 2 = Middle finger, etc., but the notation isn't consistent. For example, in Study No. 1 in Noad's book (this is also Sor's Op. 60 No. 4), sometimes the staff shows a G with a zero next to it and sometimes with nothing next to it--and it's the same G, not different octaves. I don't understand what this means. If a zero means to play it open, then what does having no number next to it mean?? Also, I can't tell if these are arpeggios or not. Is there any way to learn to distinguish this?

Any help is much appreciated! Thanks in advance.

A sincere (but older and neophyte) student,

John

Hi John,

You're right. The numerical markings are indeed the left-hand fingers to be used (1 2 3 4). When you see "p i m a" they are the right-hand fingers p=thumb, i=index finger, m=middle finger and a=annular or ring finger.

You're also right that the markings are often inconsistent. Actually, I don't think they put enough on for beginners and that's why you see much more on the music I arrange on this site to help beginners.

Additionally, you may want to learn the fret board more thoroughly as the "G" you mentioned might just be the G note on the 2nd string at the 8th fret for instance. That one is indeed the same pitch as the G note on the 1st string 3rd fret. It's also the same pitch as the 3rd string at the 12th fret.

I believe until you learn the fretboard you will always be confused about where notes reside and at what pitch they are. It's time well spent learning the fretboard.

In terms of arpeggios, they are "broken chords" which means the notes are played separately one after another (in varying right-hand patterns) rather than strummed all together at the one time.

I wrote a page quite a while ago which you might want to look at on arpeggios. There's even a video on the page that highlights an arpeggio in action.

I hope this is of help.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Natural dexterity and lack of it

Hello Trevor,

I'd really appreciate your advice to get over my problem.

I'm an adult (over 30 yo) who's been trying to learn the gutar for the last three years.
What troubles me is my extremely slow progress in getting my fingers used to the fingerboard.

I tried all kinds of exercises including various scales up/down and across the fretboard. I did this regularly and very meticulously and after three years I still feel like my fingers are very clumsy and have no dexterity.

This really upsets me when I come to a music store and see how normal people (not guitar gurus or famous performers) have their fingers flying all over the fretboard.

I try to resist this thought but it comes to me again and again that there are people with good natural dexterity who can pick up guitar pretty fast and there are others (and here you can imagine I feel like I'm in minority :) ) who will never get it.

When I get to my guitar every next day and set my fingers on the fingerboard I need to spend at least 5 to 10 minutes to get them moving and not miss the strings.

I know I'm a slow learner in general and live with the hope it will come to me but I think you understand how people tend to lose their motivation when they see no progress especially in such an easy thing like finger movement.

I've learned many things on guitar (meaning I know what to play) over the three years and would like to implement all my knowledge but this finger dexterity problem is so frustrating...

By the way thanks much for sharing your knowledge and lessons with others! This is so nice of you.

Thanks a lot,
Serge
(English is not my native language.)

Hi Serge,

It sounds like quite a perplexing problem. One thought that came to mind is what Anthony Glise said in his great book Classical Guitar Pedagogy...

"The most common question that arises with intermediate students is how to develop speed in playing. The simple answer is not to work towards speed, but toward complete finger independence and control."

I know myself when I started doing the correct finger exercises (including ones in his book) I developed a lot more finger independence, speed, and dexterity.

Indeed there are quite a few exercises and loads of information on how to improve your dexterity (among other things) in the book.

I know this probably sounds a little strange but have you seen a doctor for any tests of your reflex response and the like? It might be a good precaution to do this if not to just rule out the possibility.

I'm sorry I couldn't be of more help at this time. perhaps there's someone else reading this who's had a similar problem and hopefully, a remedy?

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Finger dexterity with the CG
by: jrldev

Hello Serge: I read your comment with interest.
I started studying the CG late in life (my 70's)
and in addition with a "handicap" anular(ring) finger in my left-fretting- hand.

At first I found it difficult to use my fretting fingers on the fret board. After trial and error and many different sizes of CG later I started to develop better finger dexterity/skills when using a shorter than 650mm scale guitar but remaining with the broad (not less than 47.7mm neck).

If you can get a short-scale guitar with the standard CG 50.8mm neck so much the better.
You did not mention what size of CG you are using
and I thought perhaps my own experience with the
hand/finger dexterity problem may be of some help.

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Relentless back pain! Any words of advice or encouragement?

by Ryan Delaney
(Missoula, MT)

Hi, I just began getting this terrible pain in may back for the last month. I've never had back pain before and all of the sudden it's so bad that I can't play for more that 30 minutes. I've tried everything. I've even switched chairs numerous times and I'm currently using a dynarette support instead of a footstool. I'm out of options and am dying to cure my back pain. The pain is located in the shoulders and lower back. Any ideas or remedies? I would be eternally grateful!

Thanks!

Hi Ryan,

I'm no doctor and wouldn't pretend to be but your back pain may be coming from any number of causes I would think.

Indeed, I had a student once who had similar terrible back pain and it turned out to be a problem with his kidneys!

My best advice would be to get yourself to a doctor as quick as possible to get it checked out. From there he/she might be able to advise you on remedies for your back pain when playing guitar but until you know the real cause you're just second guessing, as it were.

I'm sorry i couldn't be of further help.
Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Your Back Pain
by: Stevie Joe


I hope your back pain went away, but if it remains, here are some good Samaritan tips for you -

1.) stretch, stretch, stretch,

2.) get one good adjustment for a good chiropractor and let him take x-rays first

3.) swim and use water, pool, the ocean as your place of therapy. Swimming and walking in water can do wonders

4. ice, ice, ice - double and triple bag and fall asleep on it if you have too.and you can use ice and warmth to change things up a bit and see how your muscles respond.

5. hot and cold water therapy - ie. jacuzzi and dip in a cool pool

6. sleep/ Good sleep is so importanmt - if you do not get good sleep your back will hurt

7. posture - especially of you are a guitar player - posture and sitting up in a chair is elementary

8. get readjusted one more time if all the above do not work

9. a healthy diet and include olive oil, cabbage, onions, garlic and lots of fruits and vegetables

10. walking and meditating and express yourself

s.setum@gmail.com - Aloha



Pain in the back
by: Rick Hutt

I do agree wioth Trevor's advice to make sure that there is nothing seriously wrong back there, but if not, sometimes tension is the culprit. I tend to take tension in my shoulders and I find that when it starts (pain or tension) I stop and take some deep breaths and move around just slightly. Secondly I try to "diagnose" my tension - is it a particularly difficlut passage? am i preparing to play out? Am I getting a bit fatigued? All those things contribute.

Good luck

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Average time to become proficient

If I am a beginner, but have some musical knowledge from other instrument, and practice 2-3 times per week, how long on average does it take to become proficient in classical guitar?


Hi,

I know everyone's different but I've always found with my students it takes approximately 2 years practicing for about half and hour per day to become proficient in the basic technique of classical guitar.

This also depends on HOW and WHAT you practice as well. You need the right material and to practice it in an intelligent way to get the most gain.

I hope this was of help.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Thank you for comment
by: Janez

Thank you for taking note of my question and responding, I appreciate it. I understand the importance of practice and I am doing as you suggest. My question had more to do with what people mean by "intermediate" when they are commenting on difficulty of playing specific pieces in various books.

Thank you Trevor
by: Janez

Thank you Trevor, this is exactly the kind of answer I was looking for. When reading reviews of repertoire pieces or arrangements general terms like, beginner, intermediate, advanced etc. are often used, which still leaves one guessing what exactly is meant. Your answer clarifies it.

What is considered "intermediate"
by: Janez

In order to better understand suggestions in this forum, can someone give me an idea of what is considered to be an intermediate versus beginner skill level?

Hi Janez,

Being an intermediate is approximately equivalent to be able to play Grade 4 or 5 level in music courses like A.M.E.B. (Australia) or levels 3 to 4 in Trinity (England). Note: The Trinity exams are often assessed to be slightly harder than the Australian A.M.E.B. (Australian music Examinations Board).

Therefore it would take roughly 3-5 years of solid practice to become a well grounded intermediate player with "solid" technique.

Further, you could deduce from this that to become an advanced player it would take ten years or more as, in the A.M.E.B. exams there's 8 grades followed by an "Associate" level and lastly, the "Licentiate" level where you're regarded to be at a professional performance level.

I hope this has been helpful,
Kind regards,
Trevor M.

practice
by: Candy

You must practice everyday!! If you want to be any good, you have to put the time in. It's up to you what you achieve on the instrument. An hour a day is a good start, but should increase the more advanced you become.

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adult using half size guitar

Hi Sir Trevor,

I've visited Amazon in search of the best classical guitar book which is not teacher-dependent to no avail. Most if not all of the ones which provide free look inside highly recommend buying their book and finding a good teacher.

Is there one you can recommend with an accompanying DVD to serve as my teacher?

Thank you very much and more power to you, Sir!

Hi ;)

I saw a ukulele video on youtube and that got me interested in learning how to play a ukulele.
But when I was browsing the net, I found out about quarter guitar and half-size guitar.

So I thought, why not learn classical guitar instead. The reason I was never interested in learning the guitar is because of the size of it.

So my question is,

1. Is it okay for an adult to use a half size classical guitar? [I'm an adult, 5'3 (163cm)
(I'm not gonna upgrade to a normal size guitar, I prefer to use a smaller one so I can take it with me and practice more)

2. Would the sound coming out of a half size guitar be much different from a normal size guitar ?

3. Would an adult have problem (posture/back/shoulder problem/etc) playing a half size guitar?
(I assume if adults can play a small ukulele, then it's alright with a half size guitar? would a small guitar interfere with the playing technique ? )

4. I'd prefer to play a half size guitar because of the size and portability, but if on occasions, there's a normal size guitar available, I'd like to be able to play it too.
But....
If I'm not mistaken (I read this somewhere)
standard guitar's tuning is EADGBE
and a half size guitar is GCFBbDG or ADGCEA
will this be a problem ? different chords / finger placements ?

Thank you so much :)
Nina

Hi Nina,

It's perfectly alright to play a half sized guitar with no drawbacks. The sound should be much the same but maybe a little softer.

Adults shouldn’t have a problem in terms of back or shoulder problems because the guitar is much lighter. Technique might be a problem if your hands and fingers are too large for the fret board.

Also, the size of the guitar doesn’t affect the tuning but you can change the tuning if you want.

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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great!
by: James McCutcheon

I say what ever will get you going, do it.
In a beginner level it does not matter if you can enjoy learning and playing.
The bigger the guitar the bigger the sound.
The large concert classicals are build for tone and projection to audiences.
Have fun learning and playing.

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Big Belly Problems

Hello Trevor,

I recently acquired a Cordoba C7 guitar with the Spruce top, and I am having some difficulty playing it while sitting due to the fact that I am quite heavy and my belly is in the way. Short of losing weight, which I am definitely working on, I thought that I should get a Classical guitar strap and that that might help me keep the guitar under control and in a position where I could be a lot more comfortable playing it.

Believe me, the typical classical playing position just isn't going to fly due to my weight.

After looking around I have pretty much settled on the Levy's Nylon Classical Guitar Strap, and I was just wondering what your opinion on this solution might be. Am I just wasting my money on a strap, or have you found that it is a decent work-around for other heavy people you may have run into who would really like to learn to play classical guitar?

Thanks,
Mike

Hi Mike,
I must say I haven't ever used a strap for classical but did have one for an acoustic when I was much younger. Alas, I was also thinner then too!

Have you looked into buying a classical guitar leg rest instead of using a foot stool? I think you'd probably get a little more room rather than when you raise your leg on the foot stool. I don't think they're too expensive so it might be worth a try.

I hope this was of help.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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another opinion
by: rama

yes i have visited your site how to purchase a good guitar,but the problem is that these kind of guitar is not avaiable here in seychelles,i was only searching for an opinion before being regret for spending a lot on something which is not worth for the price,anyway what kind of microphone are you using?
all the best rama

O.K. Rama. The microphone I use is the internal one in my Mini DV recorder. It's pretty good and gets the sound "raw". I do play a little more near the sound hole when I record though so that the sound track on the video is a little more "penetrating", as it were.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

what kind of guitar
by: rama

Hi Trevor,
I have a Yamaha c80 classical guitar, and now I want to purchase a better one. I was thinking of buying a Cordoba gk studio Negra. I am not good at choosing a guitar. I would appreciate it if you could advise me.

Rama

Hi Rama,

You might want to look at this page on my site...

How To - Buy A Guitar

I hope this helps!

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Right hand and left hand technique

I'm looking for advice on the best training guides, CDs, books, etc for self learing technique for right hand and left hand. I studied guitar many years ago and want to resume learning for my own enjoyment, not for performance or any professional capacity. I want to study the technique prior to lessons.

Thanks,

Dick

Hi Dick,

I always recommend people have a look on my...


Books & D.V.D.'s page


...as there's a "goldmine" of excellent material for developing both the right and left hand for classical guitar.

You could also look at...Ahem...the finest Classical Guitar Study Course on the web :)) (If I do say so myself...

Classical Guitar Study Course

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Mr Potato

by Jerry
(Rapid City, SD)

Hard to see, but this is one of Mr Potato's custom built guitars.  That's his 'eagle' emblem for a soundhole, and if you look closely you can make out the 'Mr Potato' on the head of the guitar.

Hard to see, but this is one of Mr Potato's custom built guitars. That's his 'eagle' emblem for a soundhole, and if you look closely you can make out the 'Mr Potato' on the head of the guitar.

Yah, I said that right, Mr Ted Potato.

Although that's not his REAL name, it is the name he goes by from all his American friends. Maybe he's not a pure "classical guitarist", but he is definitely a great guitar player!

I had the privilege of meeting Mr Ted last year while I was stationed in Korea. He owned his own guitar shop and had his own line of hand crafted guitars.

While they might not be the best of the best, they are of great quality and sound. Not to mention he would give free lessons to anyone who bought a guitar!

This wasn't just 3 or 4 half hour lessons mind you, this was an hour lesson, once a week for as long as you wanted to come!!

Let me say that buying a guitar (or two) while I was there was more than worth the knowledge I gained!

So why is Mr Potato my favorite? Simple. His guitar playing was exactly what I had been searching for. His method of instruction was second to none! Too many times I have tried guitar lessons and gotten discouraged because of all the 'technique' work.

With Ted, I was playing simple songs like 'Dust in the Wind' after my first night! Definitely not perfect, but with encouragement I was playing comfortably. I was also able to come away reading music instead of just tabs.

I could always read sheet music from my piano years, but I never got the relationship down to the fret board. Now I do! :)

I keep going on about Mr Potato's lessons. But that is because it is the one thing you can't see or hear. Listen to him yourself.

Pop on over to YouTube and do a search for 'tedmrpotato'. He's got around 70 videos there. I can't even begin to recommend a favorite; there are just too many! But look for "Swan Lake" or "Malaguena".

While I'm not up to his speed or accuracy, I was even able to learn "Malaguena" in just a month or so! (Back to the lessons again! LOL) It's not just classical either. He does a great job at just about anything.

Check out his playing of 'Stairway to Heaven' or 'Michelle'. (another personal favorite.. maybe cuz it's my wife's name? LOL)
Let me know what you think!

I don't have vids posted on YouTube, but my nickname there is "AC5FF" shoot me a msg!

Enjoy

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how old is this guitar
by: Anonymous

HOW OLD IS THE GUITAR WITH THE EAGLE IN THE SOUND HOLE???, THANKS. EMAIL ME PLEASE AT rlemail@centurytel.net.

Mr. Potato for the win!
by: Anonymous

Hey there! I was stationed at Osan Air Base and I used to frequent his store on a weekly basis. I agree with you 110%. He's awesome and so are his guitars. Fun fact: last year, he told me he was opening up a store in... LOS ANGELES! I hope everyone stateside will get the chance to experience the care and fun he shared with all of his customers.

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Classical or Acoustic as a start for my 9 year-old?

by Dave
(North Carolina)

Hello - My daughter announced that she wanted to take guitar lessons and as insurance against this being a 10 day infatuation we borrowed a 3/4 size guitar from the school's music teacher. It's 6 weeks later and she's practicing without prompting so it's time to invest in an instrument of her own.

Once we started looking at local music stores we realized that she's been using a classical guitar! Surprise. Her instructor assumed we knew and expected us to buy an acoustic when the time came. Not surprisingly, acoustics haven't felt good to her: steel strings are tougher on little fingers though that's not a problem compared to the string spacing and general "feel" of it. I'm sure if she just started using an acoustic she'd get used to it in pretty short order but I don't know if that's what we should do.

She's not sure what style of music she wants to play but I doubt she'll dream of being the next Guitar Hero or folk strummer or even Hannah Montana. (shudder) She's not looking to sing along or join a band. She says she wants to play classical music but I don't know if that's mostly because she likes her classical guitar.

So far her lessons have been single-note melodies on the 1st 3 strings (Ode To Joy etc) and she's liking it. Chords start next week. She prefers listening to pickers than strummers though that's probably since I listen to Mozart, jazz, Ted Greene, Phillip DeGruy and Lenny Breau.

Wow - I didn't intend to be this long-winded. With that preamble, here are a few specific questions:

1 - Is it a mistake to start out with Classical? It must be more difficult to gain basic proficiency than it is with acoustic where if you know 3 chords you can play a *lot* of songs.

2 - Are there differences in string spacing among various student model classicals? Her fingers aren't huge and I'm afraid getting to the 6 string will be more difficult than it would on an acoustic.

3 - What if we bought a cheap acoustic to get us through the next few months as she learns basic technique with her current instructor who is not classically trained? If, after a few months she wants to focus on classical we can find her a new teacher and get a new instrument.

Thank you for taking the time to read this!
DRM

Hi Dave,

Great questions! There's a lot there but I'll try to answer your specific "1, 2, 3".

1. I've taught classical for over 15 years, mostly children your daughter's age. Because of my background in classical I would say a definite "yes" to starting classical. It's not just my bias either.

Although classical is regarded as a harder style to play I think it is better to play that first then go to another style as it is often harder to learn classical technique if learnt the other way round. That is, chords and strumming before finger style/classical.

It is often deemed harder to learn the specific techniques if you develop "bad" (not bad in my opinion just different) habits. What you mentioned about the strings being harder on her fingers always comes up too. It's often quite hard for a young person to stick with it if their fingers are always sore. Many kids I've taught have discontinued because of this.

2. There are different student models with different sizes in terms of length and width. A good rule of thumb is to hold the guitar on its base with the headstock pointing towards the sky (or roof) and if the tip of the guitar comes up to her waist then that is the right size. Unless she has unusually small fingers the spacing should be just about right too.

3. If she really, really wants to play classical properly I'd do two things:

1. Get her a reasonably decent guitar that sounds nice and inspires her and...

2. Get a good classical instructor that will start her off in the correct manner.

All my answers pre-suppose that she WANTS to play classical in the first place. I feel it's utterly hopeless unless a child really is committed to it, though she sounds like she is.

I hope this has been of help.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Nails
by: Rondell

Hello Sir,
i really like classical music as well as altenative rock and other genre etc.Iwant to learn but i don't want any sort of nails or fake ones because i don't like them so do i need nails or not? I want to add classical into my other playing so it won't be a full time thing, so if i master it i guess i i'll be better all round but to conclude i have been playing for 6 months with a pick and just using chords to play songs like greenday but can i still learn and include it with but other styles of music?

Yours Sincerely,
Rondell

Sonia Michelson's Method
by: Jeff Stanley

Mr. Maurice,
I am going to be introducing my grandchildren to the guitar in the near future. Are you familiar with Sonia Michelson's method for children?

http://home.earthlink.net/~smichelson/books.html

Hi Jeff,

Yes! I have the book in my library and have indeed taught children from it. I can highly recommend it.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Playback software?

by João Salomão
(Maine)

Hi.

Many years ago, I took a year of classical guitar lessons. The lesson books I purchased at the time started with some simple little pieces that are actually duets - with the thought being that the beginner play the simple part and the instructor play the harder, accompanying piece of music.

Well, I would like to start up again and was wondering if there was any software out there (free is always preferable) that I could input the instructor's piece and play it back to accompany my beginner piece as I practice?

Thank you for you time and any advice you could offer.

Respectfully,
João Salomão

Hi João,

I "googled" this particular free notation/playback (as a midi file) software...

It looks o.k. but I must say I've NEVER used it myself so I can't personally recommend it.

If you want one I could personally recommend then I'd have to say the one I use for my own website scores, namely: Finale...



As you can see it's a bit costly but very user-friendly and dependable.

I hope this has been of help.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Music Playback software
by: Darrel

Guitar Pro 6 is absolutely awesome! It doesn't cost too much (around $60) and the range of things you can do is incredible!

Free Music Notation Software
by: Nick

Visit this web site for some very user friendly software that works quite well for what you are after. AND IT'S FREE

http://www.musettemusic.com/index.shtml


Music software
by: Ulises

Google for "Music Software" or "Midi sequencers" I am sure you will fin what you are looking for.

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PDF seems garbled?

When I open up the Adobe PDF files, it opens up fine, but the music notes are hollow squares instead of eighth notes, quarter notes, etc.Is there a way to correct this?

Thank you,Mike

Hi Mike,

When people have had problems like this in the past it seems that they need to update their fr/ee adobe reader. You can get one here...

Let me know if this doesn't fix the problem and we'll try something else.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Guitar playing

by Gracia
(Singapore)

Hello,

After much persuasion, my parents have allowed me to sign up for a guitar class. When registering, the lady there told me that I would be learning how to play a classical guitar. However, I own an acoustic guitar. So basically, I would just like to ask, are the playing methods the same, like strumming, picking, chords, etc.

Thanks:)

Hi Gracia,

They are actually quite different. Classical uses finger picking/finger style methods i.e. playing arpeggio (broken chords - one note after another) and melodies using fingers in succession whereas the acoustic guitar is mainly for playing and strumming chords.

The steel strings help the acoustic guitar to "cut' through other instruments when in a band or some similar ensemble. The classical guitar is most often a solo instrument although of course you can play with other classical guitars and orchestras.

That is not to say people don't use classical guitars for bands etc. They do and it's often successful (if the players are good that is :))

My advice would be to "go with your heart". What will make you most happy? That's the important thing.

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Classical Guitar
by: Anonymous

Gracia,

I feel that the classical guitar is the most beautiful solo instrument in the world. You are getting a good background with lessons in classical.

The acoustic guitar is fun, and as Trevor says, follow your heart. But if you fall in love with the classical guitar, get one someday and you will probably not be disappointed. It is a world unto itself.

There are student models that are not too expensive. I have had my Yamaha for over 30 years.

Best of luck!

Pat

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Etudes & Level of Proficiency

by Thomas
(Wilmington, NC USA)

What level of proficiency or virtuosity should we strive for in studying etudes. Etudes such as Sor's Etude No 9, Bach's Bourree (E minor), Sor's Andantino, Morel's Preludio, etc.

I can study & practice for six months, and they still do not have the fluency of a performance level piece. I can read them and finger them quite well, and play them at a moderate pace.

But in order to really bring a piece to performance level, it seems that I must virtully memorize it. This obsession in turn, slows down progress and prevents me from moving on to other pieces.

Also, everyone's brain is wired differently. Some pieces are relatively easy for me, but others, classified as level two, will give me fits. I also find that the degree to which I am successful in bringing a piece to performance level, is directly related to how much I like a score or arrangement.

Also, when I am able to attain some level of competence on a score, it is sure to be quite a bit different than, say, someone like John Williams.

Can you offer any advice?

Hi Thomas,

You've certainly asked one of the "big" questions concerning classical guitar!

In terms of proficiency for etudes I'm afraid even etudes require different levels of proficiency because that is their very nature i.e. to give you proficiency at a particular level and that level ranges from basic to advanced.

Etudes are great because they're designed to give you strong foundation technique and keep building on skills that you've already mastered and develop them further. Sor, as you mentioned, was a master at creating etudes that both develop your classical guitar technique yet still sound great as a piece of music to perform.

In terms of how long it will take to master it, that depends of the level you're trying to master. Six months may not be long enough for some very hard pieces but be more than enough for another level. And memorization, as you mentioned is a good idea for better performance so take it as read that this is what you should do.

Having said that, don't let that stop you when "moving on to other pieces" because you need to have other "irons in the fire" so to speak. The pieces will eventually come to hand if you "keep them on the boil" whilst your developing your technique with other pieces. This also means that your practice will be "fresher" because you're not playing the same tired old pieces over and over.

I'm not sure what to make of you comparing your progress to John Williams. I think if you do that you may never be satisfied with your own development and progress. Remember that he is a played in the topmost echelon of guitarists the world has ever seen and it may be a little impractical to judge your own progress in comparison with him.

My advice is to focus on your own development. Take hints and inspiration from him and other guitarists of course but don't "beat yourself up" if you don't reach such lofty heights because you're talking about probably the best classical guitar player the world has seen to this point in time :))

I hope this has helped somewhat.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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How many pieces should I try to learn at one time?

by Dewayne
(Ft Lauderdale Fla USA)

Hi, I was just wondering how many pieces of music should I practice at one time?

I usually just pick like 2 or 3 pieces that I want to learn and just work on them all thru my practice sessions. Other times I just stick with one.

I am going to be getting an instructor real soon, but I have been learning some things on my on right now. your website is great, by the way!!

It has helped me out a lot. I just wanted to know if I should just stick with one piece of music until I can play it PERFECTLY, or should I try to learn multiple pieces at the same time. Your feed back will be greatly appreciated. Thank You.

Hi Dewayne,

I think you've got it just about right! There's no sense in trying to play multiple pieces if you're not getting anywhere. Just limiting the pieces to 2 (or 3 max) allows you to focus your attention and improve. If you've got too many pieces you start to feel pressured and may be tempted to give up.

In terms of getting it "perfect" I wouldn't worry too much. Rather, if you keep that piece in your repertoire, you'll notice over the months that it can be improved. Then if you "drop" that piece for a while and come back to it later with "fresh eyes" so to speak, you'll notice even more things about it and improve even further.

I don't think anyone, even the professionals, ever become "perfect". In my humble opinion, anyone that deems themselves perfect are the most in need of improvement. There's just always something you can do to improve, it never stops - luckily or we'd be bored real soon :))

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Glad you asked that...
by: David

Hi Dewayne,

I'm glad you asked this question (I was about to ask it myself). I'm in the same situation as you. I have about 3 pieces on the go at any time.
I also tried sticking to one piece as you mentioned but I find that I get bored of it really quickly. Also, I find that repeating the same tune (and thus the same finger movements) can become painful.
I think it's good to practice one song for 10 minutes then switch to another.

Heppy plucking.

David

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How do you compose pieces that include classical guitar in them?

by Logan Graham
(Forest Lake, Minnesota)

I really enjoy playing guitar and have recently been interested in learning how to write classical-based guitar for acoustic.

I am fairly new to the classical genre writing. I tend to write progressive metal and such but would like to learn how to not only write classical guitar but how I may also be able to incorporate into my current music.

For example, not that I'm that good at the metal portion of this band, a.j. Minette of The Human Abstract has much classical influence in his songs. i would like to learn how to write classical such as how he plays it. thank you for helping.

Hi Logan,

The most popular ways of composing classical are either starting with a melody and then building your harmonic structure i.e. chords around that melody or starting with a chord progression and then putting a melody to it.

I've written a few pieces that I've put on my site and I'm by no means an accomplished composer but I am proud of my little "ditties" :))

For example, you can see my Study in E Minor here...

In this particular piece, I started humming then writing down the melody. After that, I wrote the chords around the melody until I was happy with the result. It is a very simple piece both melodically and harmonically but it was fun to do and I think it really helps all aspects of your musicianship if you do a little composing.

You certainly get an appreciation for composers of real talent such as Tarrega, Mangore et al.

I guess you get good at it by doing it. I don't mean to sound glib but it's like anything else in life - the more you do it the better you'll get.

There are some good books for beginners. Even the "Idiots Guide" is quite useful...

Complete IdiotLook Inside
Complete Idiot"s Guide to Music Composition For composers. Reference Textbooks; Textbook - General. Complete Idiot"s Guide. Instructional and Composition. Instructional book. 264 pages. Published by Alfred Music Publishing (AP.74-1592574033)
...more info


Although I really hate that term, even though it's supposed to be humorous.

I hope this helped in some way.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.


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Composing for Classical Guitar
by: Gerry Busch

Composing for Classical Guitar

As Trevor pointed out, playing just melody notes can suggest the appropriate chords, and starting out with just chords can suggest a melody. Harmony and melody are closely related. Combine the notes in a bar of the melody and they will usually form a chord. Play a chord as an arpeggio -- the notes played in rapid succession, rather than simultaneously -- and you will get a simple melody, perhaps a brand-new one if you vary the order in which the notes are played.

I ran into the following pitfall when writing my first guitar compositions back in 1971: My fascination with harmony caused me to make the chords too thick. This never occurred to me while composing, because instead of playing my pieces all the way through, I had to stop periodically to write things down. Once I tried to play a completed composition, I discovered that there were too many notes in my chords, making them too difficult to play. As a result, I had trouble playing my own pieces. A guitar virtuoso could likely have played them without difficulty, but I was no virtuoso back then, nor am I today.

Playing the works of other composers eventually taught me that a lot of the harmony can be implied rather than stated. In other words, a well-chosen three-note chord, or even just the harmony between one treble and one bass note in some passages, can convey the same feeling as a complex chord using all six strings and all the player's strength and agility.

Chords like the latter show up in many of Fernando Sor's works, while the simplified harmony I've described can be found in many baroque guitar pieces. That's why I play a lot of baroque music; it's a bit easier for me to finger, and I find the interplay between the melody and bass lines (i.e. the counterpoint) fascinating.

At any rate, I'd suggest to anyone who has just started composing for the classical guitar that they avoid the trap I fell into, and also that they study some music theory -- it needn't be at conservatory level; start with just the basics. You're likely to figure out the rest of it on your own, but I hope your music manuscripts are more legible than mine are! :)

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Newbie to the world of classical guitar/music

Hi all :)

I was wondering if any one of you could advise me on the right approach of playing the classical guitar. As mentioned, I'm quite new to playing the classical guitar but I'm not new to the guitar itself. I'm an electric guitar player and have decided to relearn this beautiful instrument once again but in a different form (genre wise).

My questions are:

1) I've noticed that most classical players like Julian Bream, Andres Segovia etc play most pieces with only their index and middle fingers, only using the ring finger in certain pieces. Are most pieces played that way? Do we prioritize the index and middle fingers or does it depend on how each piece is meant to be played? What if I'm learning the pieces from a tab? How can I know which fingers to use?


2) Also, all classical players have their right hand hanging freely when playing a piece. However, is it wrong if I balance my right hand with my pinkie finger, like I've always done so when playing electric guitar? Does it have any effect whatsoever if I was to play it in that position?


I hope someone could help me with these questions as they've been bugging me for a few days now. Thank you so much for the help guys :)


Cheers!! ^^


Hi there,

Most classical guitar players use their index and middle fingers because they are the strongest. Also the “a” finger is used where necessary but the first two fingers would be used in preference on the majority of occasions.

Tab doesn’t usually use the right hand finger indications but there is some move towards it. The best way to work out the fingering is to work through a piece slowly and logically to see what fingerings are workable and common sense ones.

In classical guitar it is not traditional to place the finger on the soundboard because it needs to be free to play the chords and melodic scale runs. Although many guitarists place it there for stability most classical guitarists wouldn’t do this because of the need for flexible movement and that they don’t want to dampen the sound in any way. Nylon strings of the classical aren’t as loud as the steel strings of an acoustic and so they might be dampened more easily if the finger is placed on the soundboard.

I hope this has been of help.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Left hand techniques

What are the proper left and right-hand techniques in playing the guitar?

Hi,

You might want to look at this page for the left hand and this page for the right hand.

Also you could look at this page for general tips on holding and sitting with the guitar.

I hope these pages are of help.
kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Bar A to B Minor Change

by Cary Terry
(Arlington, TX)

C. Terry 2009

C. Terry 2009

Hello Trevor,

I'm working on Per-Olov Kindgrens Canon in D by Pachelbel, the most beautiful arrangement I've seen of this piece.

Here is my problem:
I play the A chord in the fifth measure using a half bar. It should be easy to switch to the Bm chord in the sixth measure, but I am having problems. As an exercise, I try to play the two chords repeatedly in succession at slow speeds. I play as chords and as arpeggios. I have been doing this for a week and don't see much improvement. The B on the second fret 5th string is weak and fingers 2,3, and 4 aren't hitting precisely on their notes.

I have just spent two month working on Sor's Study in B Minor, so I thought I had confidence in the Bm chord. It was a surprise to me to be struggling with the change from A to Bm in the Canon.

My question is what can I do to solidify making this change? Spend another week? Chris Davis has a Stop/Go technique that I think would help and I've just started adding this exercise as well.

Any help would be very much appreciated.
CARY

Hi Cary,

I think you're moving in the right direction. It is sometimes surprising as you mentioned that you can have mastered a similar problem but it doesn't carry through to the other problem at hand.

It's like when you come across kids that have amazing finger dexterity and don't even play an instrument and you can't reproduce what they're doing even though you have played for years - aarrrgghh!!!

But back to your question. I would make sure when you're practicing slowly that you're keenly aware of how much tension is in your fingers, arm and shoulder. Tension can be a real "destroyer" of your technique and hence your sound.
It might sound basic but when you said that the sound is “weak” and the “fingers aren't hitting precisely on their notes“, you need to make sure you’re actually looking at your left hand as you place the fingers slowly AND that you’re using the tips of your fingers and not the “pads” lower down the finger.
You could also try planting your 2nd, 3rd & 4th fingers together as a group and use that group as an “anchor” to then lift and guide your 1st finger into the full barre position so that it won’t sound “weak”.

I hope these ideas are of use. Let me know if it helps.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

P.S. If there’s other’s out there that have good ideas then feel free to suggest them.

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Barring technique

by David Hufnagel
(Denver, Colorado)

I'm a beginning classical guitar student and I'm having some difficulty maintaining equal pressure across all strings when applying a full barre. And I'm having an especially hard time when applying a barre and needing to finger notes higher up the neck. Any suggestions?

Hi David,

There's a page about using barre chords on my site. You can find it here...

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,
Trevor M.

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Welcome!

A Bit About Me...

Welcome to LCG! I'm Trevor Maurice, owner of this site. I hope you find inspiration in these pages to help you with  your journey of learning to play the classical guitar. You can read more of my story here...

Classical Guitar
Blog Posts

Sons de Carrillhoes, performed by Samantha C. Wells...

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* J.S. BACH, Sarabande BWV 995, Viktor VAN NIEKERK, 10-String Guitar, classical guitar...

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 * Robert de Visee - Petit Menuet (8 string guitar)...

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Manuel Ponce - Scherzino Mexicano...

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Segovia plays Bach's Chaconne (Read along)...

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