Newbie needs advice on classical right-hand technique...

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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Newbie needs advice on classical right-hand technique...

Postby danonearth » Thu Mar 09, 2017 10:20 am


I am just teaching myself classical guitar (I play most Brasilian bossa nova) and I have a question about right hand technique...

I usually play 'plucking' the D - G - B (and sometimes E) strings with my fingers, and play the bass line on the E & A strings with just my thumb

I am learning Bach's Suite #1 in G Major, which (in my version) plays mostly on the E - A - D - G strings, so my question is:

Should I keep my thumb on the E & A strings, and try and just play D string with the 1st finger, and G string with the 2nd finger (as I would do in bossa nova) or is it better to 'mix-it-up' a bit and alternate strings/fingers etc. when playing classical pieces?



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Re: Newbie needs advice on classical right-hand technique...

Postby guitarrista » Fri Mar 10, 2017 6:21 am

It is hard to say without seeing the sheet music. Usually this one is transposed to D major for guitar and definitely involves the top two treble strings; so no idea what your version would even look like. However, usually if you have consecutive notes on different strings, one per string (i.e. arpeggio-like), you would play just the lowest (in pitch) one with your thumb, and the rest with i,m,a fingers. In classical guitar it seems playing consecutive strokes on different strings with the thumb is not very common if there are alternatives involving the other fingers of the right hand.
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Re: Newbie needs advice on classical right-hand technique...

Postby MaritimeGuitarist » Sun Mar 12, 2017 8:56 pm


I know of a lot of finger-style guitarists (non-classical) who swear by the rule where the thumb always plays the 3 bass strings and the i finger plays the g string, m plays the b, and a plays the high e. These types of rules don't really work for classical guitar. The thumb will often be used on the treble strings to facilitate playing a particular passage or even just to add weight to a given note/scale run. Every piece is different--it takes experience to determine when it is appropriate to use the thumb.

As to the Bach piece, I assume you are referring to the prelude from the cello suite? I've not played it in the key of G before, but you probably will want to play all of the bass notes with your thumb and use your fingers for everything else. This will help provide consistent voicing throughout the piece. You may even want to try rest stroke with your thumb to really bring out those bass notes.

Hope this helps!!


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Re: Newbie needs advice on classical right-hand technique...

Postby Dekselsedek » Sun Mar 12, 2017 9:15 pm

I you could tell us what version you are using I'd be happy to look at parts you are having difficulty with

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