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Benefits of Classical Guitar Techniques with Grant Ruiz

Add some nylon to your free bird...


by Chris Loeffler




Classical guitar music can often mean playing from a repertoire of classically composed pieces that form the pantheon of traditional “classical” music. That said, modern classical guitar composers and performers have a rich pool from which to draw from that includes Jazz, Folk, Improvised Music, and any number of national styles. This diversity in material further expands the structure and composition expectations of what Classical guitar music can be.


Much of the older, canonical Classical guitar pieces were written by composers, not guitar players, with a focus on musicality and lack of worry of the physicality of performing the piece within the geometry of the instrument. As such, there are certain phrasing and chording positions that appear in Classical guitar that are rare outside of the genre simply because the symmetry of the guitar’s strings leads most guitar players to play to the fretboard.


Classical Sound

Unlike electric and steel string guitars, Classical guitar playing does not allow for additional tools, like a plectrum or slide. The expressive quality of the nylon strings, simplicity of the acoustic design, and finger/nail condition as strings are plucked and strummed makes the Classical style performance one of the most individualized and stripped down experiences available to guitar players. Unlike other genres, where gear is often as associated with the voice of the player as their musical vocabulary, the Classical player’s voice is entirely stylized by their playing technique.


Classical Technique

Classical technique is most identified by accuracy and purpose of the player’s right hand and finger independence. Each finger most be available to perform in tandem or asynchronously as well as manage individual dynamics.

While Classical technique has a reputation for being one of the most demanding styles of guitar music, there is actually quite a bit of flexibility within the parameters of “proper” technique. For instance, there is no one way to sit correctly; whether the crook of the guitar is resting on your thigh or the bout of the guitar is sitting directly in your lap, as long as a player achieves  a straight spine and relaxed shoulders they should be “compliant”. Leaning slightly into your guitar gives you a greater prevue into your fretboard and also encourages a more active role in performance.


Classical Notation

Classical guitar’s relative rigidity in using standard notation rather than TAB is another perceived barrier to entry, and does require a bit more up front investment. While there may not be a silver-bullet shortcut to learning standard notation, the payoffs are worth it.

Standard notation opens the door to composing and even, to a degree, performing on any instrument. It’s more an investment in music knowledge in general, not just your instrument.  -HC-




Grant Ruiz Home Page





Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer. 


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AJ6stringsting  |  September 09, 2017 at 1:47 am
I was given a Classical guitar in the late 1970's, it got put under my bed as soon as I got Strat copy.Then, like people in my generation, Randy Rhoads ( Ozzy Osbourne's 1st guitarist ) made me pull out the nylon from under my bed, Revelation -Mother Earth , made me interested in playing nylon string guitar. I was playing in various Metal bands and Classical guitar not only improved my Rock guitar playing, it expanded my Melodic sensibilities and broaden my technique.Bach, Sor, Beethoven and Aguado, became as essential to my playing as much as Hendrix, Rhoads, Malmsteen, Van Halen or Satriani.It also inspired me to understand Music Theory and how to read music.Classical music is is not only music to be heard, it's music to expand your mind to places , your musicial sensibilities, have never been before.
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