Segovia vs Romero right hand technique

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Segovia vs Romero right hand technique

Post by cows » Wed Aug 04, 2010 8:08 pm

I started as a beginner with a teacher who described his right hand technique as derived from Segovia, Bream, Williams, and others. He studied with teachers who studied under Emilio Pujol and Miguel Abloniz. He would hold his right hand in a way such that the knuckles were slightly pointed towards the fingerboard and ima would be perpendicular to the strings, the thumb parallel.

He's been highly critical of the "Romero style" which he says pervade southern California right now. My understanding of this style is having the hand less dropped at an angle and playing more at a diagonal with the strings. He cites this type of playing as the cause of his tendonitis and generally inferior. When I watch videos of the Romeros or Scott Tennant, I see a difference in how they hold their right hands versus the hands of the aforementioned.

He is extremely adamant that the former style, that of Segovia et al, is superior. Does this critique have merit?

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Re: Segovia vs Romero right hand technique

Post by pogmoor » Wed Aug 04, 2010 8:28 pm

Hi cows, Welcome to the forum. I hope you find it a friendly place :)

Please have a look at this welcome page to find out what you need to know about using the forum.

I guess you'll have others more expert than me answering your question, but I certainly shy away from such strongly expressed opinions. It strikes me that professional guitarists have to decide what works for them - they wouldn't be likely use a technique that placed undue strain on their wrist and you should perhaps judge their style of playing by the sound it produces!

Actually my impression is that it is the angled wrist that is more likely to lead to tendonitis which is perhaps the reason some players have moved away from it. Those that do use it presumably find that they can do so comfortably.
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Re: Segovia vs Romero right hand technique

Post by Tonyyyyy » Wed Aug 04, 2010 11:35 pm

Just to confuse things further ..... how about the Presti technique. This looks odd (to me) and the wrist angle looks risky for the tendons , but as explained by Alice Artzt here - - it does make perfect sense, though in no way would I try it unless guided by an expert on the technique.

Our playing will sound very different according to rhe range of techniques we use, but that is a nice thing. My main teacher was influenced technically by David Russell and Leo Brouwer. And musically I confess to loving Bream the most ! I have no idea whether that puts me closer to Romero or Segovia :lol:

I guess there are many paths up a mountain


Re: Segovia vs Romero right hand technique

Post by AsturiasFan » Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:20 am

I didn't understand the Romeros playing at a diagonal. My understanding is that the Romeros and Artz have very similar or identical hand positions -- the wrist is bent so that the line of knuckles is perfectly parallel to the string which apparently is standard flamenco practice but also done by classical guitarists. Some wrist bend is definitely a CG standard --see Duncan's The Art of Classical Guitar Playing. Of course a straight wrist is also a CG standard.

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Re: Segovia vs Romero right hand technique

Post by Luis_Br » Thu Aug 05, 2010 2:30 am

I don't think some angle to the string is cause of tendinitis. If you know how to play in a relaxed you can test several different angles and some wrist bent as well as a straight wrist, and it won't cause any problem. Most common cause of problem when trying to obtain an angle is when you force a wrist "fixation" to keep it in a straight position in order to reach the string angle, but you also can do it in a relaxed way without that wrist fixation and it won't cause any harm.

About the sound result, I agree Segovia was probably the best, but I don't know if it is really only a matter of the "perpendicular positioning" of RH. I think the angle choice also has a lot to do with your personal characteristics of finger tips and nail. If your nail is hard, regular and simetrical, a perependicular position is great, but if you have some irregularities on your nail, then more angle may help to fix the "problem". Although Segovia used the knucles almos in line with the strings, we can clearly see on his videos that he attacks with some slight angle, it is not really perfectly perpendicular, and he uses a lot some side-attack with a small "slip" of the finger over the string to obtain a rounder tone. Check out this video at youtube, which is one with the best image and sound quality I've found with Segovia at his best level, here playing Llobet:
On this same youtube user you will also find another high quality video on Torroba with a lot of close ups to his RH.

What I do agree is that most players with too much angle are those who search for a sweet tone but they stay there and they do not vary too much the tone color, which sometimes is quite boring.



Re: Segovia vs Romero right hand technique

Post by terpfan » Thu Aug 05, 2010 5:14 am

for me, no merit. segovia is segovia. he is unique person. not many people can produce his tone with his hand position. william doesn't not play right hand like segovia anymore. segovia's hand position is less natural and more prone to tendonitis in my opinion


Re: Segovia vs Romero right hand technique

Post by codmate » Thu Aug 05, 2010 11:37 am

I use whatever hand position is appropriate for me and the passage of music.

I have an extremely long m finger in relation to my others, so the 'diagonal' position, plucking towards the bridge, makes more sense most of the time. However, I will use the more perpendicular position quite regularly for the tone it gives and for the majority of my rest strokes.

Any right hand position that is practical is useful at some point IMHO. Surely anybody who plays with a rigid right hand that never deviates is going to be a fairly boring guitarist with access to a smaller variety of tones?

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Re: Segovia vs Romero right hand technique

Post by Mike Pick » Sat Aug 07, 2010 9:29 pm

As with the other posts on RH technique, everybody is different. Segovia had nails like a rhinocerus, I don't. John MIlls has nails that are straight, mine are hooked. I can't have really long nails, my thumb is in a V contour because of a childhood accident with a door. I get by. If your hand is relaxed and your tone is good, why worry! I play diagonally for other than "special effects." Others are wonderfully different.


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Re: Segovia vs Romero right hand technique

Post by TomPage » Sun Aug 08, 2010 8:25 pm

I would not try to copy Segovia or Bream for technique; they both used idiosyncratic technique that worked for them (as evidenced by their long playing careers) but which would be highly problematic for most others. Neither of them were pedagogues in the sense that they did not try to figure out what their own technique was or how to teach it. They both realized that their genius was in interpretation (and tonal palette) . Williams, on the other hand, has stellar technique, but also does not seem interested in codifying it or teaching it. However, the next generation had/has a number of good pedagogues clustered around several conservatories (e.g. Peabody, San Francisco, USC etc (I don't know the rest of the world as well)). However, our instrument and its technique is too young for any theory of technique to have broadly crystalized into just a few schools of thought. But differing technical theories abound, many of which have proven they can produce world class players.

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Re: Segovia vs Romero right hand technique

Post by Heike Matthiesen » Mon Aug 09, 2010 2:15 pm

.. one important point in the Romero RH technique is to avoid using the wrist for an artificially made angle, the hand can follow a little bit the gravitation, then the angle to the strings seems to be created by the position of the guitar.
I studied many years with Pepe and I did not copy exactly the Romero-positioning of the guitar, but thanks to their way to think of arms, shoulders, the whole body, involved in playing led my to find the way perfect for me, and knock on wood, I do not know any pain etc in playing, also with working many hours each day..




Re: Segovia vs Romero right hand technique

Post by jstroud » Sun Sep 05, 2010 3:29 am

i think if you look at the best players today like russell, barrueco, etc their wrist is straight and they have wonderful tone. i was taught segovia style but could never get the speed , control and tone until another teacher"straightened me out" now my tone is much better with little variance between rest and free stroke, i have good control and more speed. everyone's hands are different but as a general rule "straight" is more natural and makes more sense from an anatomical standpoint. just make a fist and release it and then repeat it several times with your wrist straight then as you do it angle your wrist and feel all the tension. keep doing it then straighten your wrist and feel the tension go away. go straight!


Re: Segovia vs Romero right hand technique

Post by wianno » Sun Sep 05, 2010 12:15 pm

Do we have any witnesses? Who among forum members actually has developed right hand tendinitis (tendonitis) as a result of the choice of a hand position similar to the one used by Segovia or Presti?


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Re: Segovia vs Romero right hand technique

Post by Larry McDonald » Sun Sep 05, 2010 4:12 pm


I developed carpal tunnel syndrome after playing 4 nights a week for several months in 1987 (plus teaching). I was trained in the Segovia style wrist position. I had to take a 9 month leave of absence after treatment. Since I "straightened" out my wrist(s) the following year, I had no more problems, even with the same workload. I understand that coincidence is not causality, but it happened.


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Re: Segovia vs Romero right hand technique

Post by Luis_Br » Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:10 pm

I would just like to add to my post that certainly a straight position of the wrist is less suscetible to tendinitis and other injuries than a Segovian-style position. Certainly in a work that recquire big muscle effort, stright wrist is better. That is the reason most people solve some problems through a straight positioning.
But it does not mean a Segovian-style position will cause those injuries as long as you really know how to do it.
I know a lot of players using that style who do not have any problem and I do not believe it is a matter of biotype. I am sure that with his busy carrer, Segovia certainly would have had problems if his way of playing was not ok.
I think if we know how to make good sound with little effort and using correct muscles that won't affect wrist (using a "hollow wrist", as the flamenco guitarists say), then some wrist bent is not a problem. Of course I am talking about "some" wrist bent, like Segovia or Williams. A lot of bent may cause problems, for sure.


Re: Segovia vs Romero right hand technique

Post by devlyn811 » Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:13 pm

My 2 cents say that the Ida Presti position is more likely to cause damage due to the angle of the wrist. The tendons from the muscles run through a bracelet like ligament on the top of the wrist and through the carpal tunnel on the bottom of the wrist. There will be extra friction going through these courses if the wrist is bent regardless as to how relaxed your muscles are.

I watched the Artzt videos and read her comments. While she certainly seems to make many good points about the anatomy, etc, I think her persistence to say that she pities those who don't use the technique and that she attributes her entire career to her Ida Presti technique don't do much to make me change my technique to the presti. I watched and listened to her performances on youtube. Personally, I think David Russell's sound is much much more convincing than Alice's and he uses the straight wrist technique.

However, I doubt David Russell would attribute the entire success of his career on his right-hand technique...

I don't see any good reason to change my right-hand technique. Perhaps if David Russell comes out and says that the Ida Presti technique is the technique to end all other techniques, then I may reconsider.

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