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Learning Classical Guitar Playing

By: Pat Newsome

Nothing is quite as relaxing and beautiful as listening to a good classical guitar player.  Learning to play this lovely instrument is not outside of your grasp if you are willing to work at it.  The classical guitar differs from other acoustic guitars in that the strings are made of nylon, which is softer than the steel strings used on other acoustics.  It also tends to be a smaller sized guitar.  It is usually not equipped with a button for the use of a strap, nor does it usually feature a pick guard.

A classical guitar is tuned exactly like any other guitar, with the strings from the low pitched sixth string to the high pitched first string being tuned to E, A, D, G, B, and E.  An electronic tuner makes tuning any stringed instrument a snap, and can be purchased for around $20 or less.

The classical guitar is not held the same way as other guitars.  Standard guitars are often worn with a strap which gives extra support to the guitar and is almost essential for playing in a standing position.  A classical, on the other hand, is played in a seated position, with the guitar resting on the left knee.  The left foot should be on some sort of low footstool to make this easier.  The neck of the guitar points up at a 45 degree angle, instead of sticking out parallel to the floor.

Classical guitar players do not use picks.  The nylon strings are soft and easy on the fingers, which do the work.  The best way to pluck the strings is with the corner of the finger tip, supported by the fingernail.  The thumb of the right hand is used in this way, too.

Classical guitarists must learn to read music.  This is not an impossible task, but must be learned one lesson at a time.  A teacher can be a great help, but it is not impossible to teach yourself these skills by using one of the many fine websites that offer guitar lessons.  You can also find online guitar tutors who for a fee will take a personal interest in you and help you over the rough spots.

If you have learned anything about music reading, or know a bit about guitar chords, it will help you in the acquisition of these new skills.  These are not prerequisites, though.  The main factors in your success will be persistence and practice.  Make sure you understand each lesson, and then take the time to practice it until you can make the movements easily and naturally.

There are books on the market that simplify classical tunes and illustrate exactly which finger to use and where on each string those fingers need to go.  By mastering one of these simplified tunes, you will be well on your way to becoming a classical guitarist.




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