Technique rules for Playing Classical Guitar....or Acoustic Fingerstyle at the Highest Level that Your Body is Capable of

 

Michael Chapdelaine, Guitar Professor
Center for the Arts
Department of Music
MSC04 2570
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001 USA

mchap@unm.edu

Left Hand (Lesson I)

As in the positioning for playing Chromatic 4 note scales at 5th fret (applies to all playing though)
1. Press center of tip segment bone on center of the string (close to the nail)
2. Place fingers just behind the metal fret, but not touching it
3. Tip segment of fingers 2 and 3 are perpendicular to plane of the fingerboard
4. 1st and 4th fingers wedge in onto their tip of the bone, but slightly on their outer sides
5. Squeeze 2%-10% harder than the minimum pressure that would allow the note buzz
6. Tip and middle joints should all be bent close to 90 degrees
7. Wrist is straight and at times slightly flexed (more straight on 1st string, a little flexed on 6th string
8. Palm pad of 1st and 4th fingers are the same distance from neck
9. When leaving the string, lift fingers <2mm, directly over the last note played
10. Thumb is behind neck under between 1st/2nd finger and will move its position behind neck to stay relatively under the same 
11. Thumb points more or less toward the 6th string tuner (it is rarely parallel to frets....possibly when making a bar)
12. Relax neck, shoulders, elbow, wrist, mouth, everything down to your toes
13. Press the string onto the fret by squeezing neck between finger and thumb (as you get more advanced, you may use a slight pulling energy from left biscep
14. When leaving the string, lift fingers perpendicular to plane of the fingerboard to avoid squeaking
15. Never place a finger you don't need
16. Never place a finger before you need it
17. Pull offs: pull finger toward palm perpendicular to string/parallel to plane of fingerboard, while keeping the other fingers, hand and wrist completely stationary
18. Hammer-on: slam the center of tip segment's bone onto center of the string, forcefully just behind fret (but not touching it

 

Right Hand (Lesson I)

Bend is at wrist and in the lateral plane
Arch is at wrist and in the horizontal plane
Rotation is from the elbow ("i" knuckel should be closer to guitar top than the "a" knuclel
1. Bend=0%-7%..Arch=0%-10%....Rotation=0%-5% *this will depend on your body (everyone is a little different)
2. Elbow will be above the rim of guitar so that you cross the rim at forearm closer to elbow than wrist
3. Right hand wrist should be way relaxed and the hand hanging like it's asleep. Then, bring it to the strings with minimum motion and effort. That will result in about 0%-10% of wrist arch and bend.
4. Play over the sound hole, P over edge of the fingerboard
5. The "i" palm nuckle should be slightly closer to the top of the guitar than the "a" nuckle.
6. Relax all the muscles from neck to fingertip while holding your hand gently in place
7. Place the flesh of the fingertip on the string, so that the nail is about .000001 mm from the string
8. Relax again. Listen to the silence. Be calm
9. In a very quantum (all at once) motion, pull the nail through the string so that the fingertip comes to rest on the next string. (classical guitarists call this rest stroke or apoyando)
10. Relax again and listen to the string until its sound is gone
11. Bring the finger back to the string that you just plucked and repeat from step 1
12. Make sure you return to the string with the least travel possible. Don’t make an arch or overshoot the string that you are going to place the finger on.