Reply to Thread Bookmark Thread
Posts 1 to 20 of 20
  1. #1
    I have been trying to develop a more classical left hand technique(while playing a steel stringed guitar) the past few months and it has been difficult, mainly for certain chords. Any advice on how to progress this style faster? I have heard It can take up to five years to master, is this true?

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

    User Info Menu

    How are you positioning your guitar? Fairly high with the neck tilted upwards?

    I hear it takes 10,000 hours to master anything.

  4. #3

    User Info Menu

    5 years minimum, closer to ten, with regular thoughtful practice and good tutelage.
    It's also rather difficult to do the classical thing on a steel-string, for several reasons. Width of nut and fingerboard, arched fingerboard, entirely different feel from nylon string, etc. But, it's not impossible. Even so, get an inexpensive classical guitar to work on that, you'll make better progress.

  5. #4

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyLoveHandles View Post
    How are you positioning your guitar? Fairly high with the neck tilted upwards?

    I hear it takes 10,000 hours to master anything.

    uh huh. so when it's time for you, a friend, or family member to have open heart surgery, find a doctor with 5 years of experience.

  6. #5

    User Info Menu

    Ron can you talk more about the difficulties applying classical technique to non-classical guitars? I've assumed the principles of ergonomics and economy of motion for the left hand still hold up even on different guitars.

  7. #6

    User Info Menu

    MMmmm.....wondering what "classical left-hand technique" is...I thought efficient movement in the left hand was universal to all styles played at a high level. To me the real difference is the right hand (i.e. fingerstyle vs pick). Are you talking about the thumb maybe? I've always played with a low thumb, but that's because I have somewhat small hands and hanging it over the top interferes with my ability to reach notes / avoid bumping and muting strings. Anyways, to me good left hand technique should be used whatever style you play, and I don't see there being such a thing as "classical left-hand technique".

  8. #7

    User Info Menu

    Well, guitarists who bend all the time like to have the thumb up high for leverage, and what about fretting with your thumb? I think there is more that just "classical fretting hand" positioning as a possibility.

  9. #8

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Guitarzen View Post
    MMmmm.....wondering what "classical left-hand technique" is...I thought efficient movement in the left hand was universal to all styles played at a high level. To me the real difference is the right hand (i.e. fingerstyle vs pick). Are you talking about the thumb maybe? I've always played with a low thumb, but that's because I have somewhat small hands and hanging it over the top interferes with my ability to reach notes / avoid bumping and muting strings. Anyways, to me good left hand technique should be used whatever style you play, and I don't see there being such a thing as "classical left-hand technique".
    back, shoulder, arm, wrist, hand, finger positions are a little bit different. the thumb too like you pointed out - and of course you spoke anecdotally - surely you realize that your thumb is not every electric players thumb.

    furthermore, the fingers tend to be more spread and one plays more with the finger tips. no string bending or closed hand stuff, no rolling from one string to the next. of course the fretboard is wider and the strings further apart, so its less forgiving of slouchy technique.

    OK?

    but then there is no need to emulate this technique precisely when one plays a 1 11/16" nut width electric guitar, rolls arpeggios, and occasionally bends strings. but playing with good shoulder, arm, wrist and hand position is a good idea in general so.... it' best to play strapped with the neck up.

  10. #9

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by fumblefingers View Post
    back, shoulder, arm, wrist, hand, finger positions are a little bit different. the thumb too like you pointed out
    I didn't realize electric guitar players had a specific back, shoulder, arm, wrist & hand technique. I'm aware of the habit of electric guitar players to hang the thumb over the top of the neck, but I always saw this as a bad habit, not a specific and legitimate technique, except of course in the few rare moments it actually helps like specific chord voicings and bending strings.

    - surely you realize that your thumb is not every electric players thumb.
    I don't remember saying that, could you please show me where I said that, thanks.

    furthermore, the fingers tend to be more spread and one plays more with the finger tips. no string bending or closed hand stuff, no rolling from one string to the next. of course the fretboard is wider and the strings further apart, so its less forgiving of slouchy technique.
    So your saying that proper electric guitar technique is slouchy...gotcha.

  11. #10

    User Info Menu

    they don't, i was talking about classic guitar technique. electric guitar technique, or plectrum technique, is too random across players. the syle is casual and in many cases self taught. witness the low slung, designed to look cool, strum-a-luma-ding-dong bullshit "technique" (if you can call it that) that the Gen-X and Gen-Y pop/rock players use. and then there are fine electric players with stellar technique - but its not the same as classical technique. and then there is "Benson picking" which is awkward, and Metheny picking which is deformed and uses the wrong finger.

    your post states that there is no classical left hand technique. in fact the opposite is a bit closer to the truth, but i'll stop short of saying that. make no mistake, the classical guitar came first, its techniques have evolved, they have been clearly defined, and handed down through the centuries. they are not universal in the absolute sense, but by this point in time are pretty darned close.

    you brought your personal left-hand technique into the discussion as a point of argumentation. i'm sorry to say that your personal technique is irrelevant to the discussion. its not about you. its about classical guitar technique.

    if there is such a thing as a universal "proper" electric guitar technique, please define it. yes its true, a lot of pickers are very slouchy indeed. gives 'em character. in pop and folk music (like jazz) style is king.

  12. #11

    User Info Menu

    Classical left-hand technique begins with good seated posture, an upright spine held with poise and dignity. One may use Paco de Lucia as a counter example with his relaxed, literally laid-back posture, but he's primarily self-taught flamenco player, so his posture is not apropos to this discussion.

    For a right-handed player, the guitar MUST be seated on the left leg or an equivalent thereabouts. The soundhole of the guitar should be in front of and slightly to the left of one's belly button. This is not an opinion nor is it up for discussion. It's literally impossible to use the left hand in a correct classical style without the guitar being situated in this fashion. Full stop. End of story. It's still certainly possible to play amazing music, even classical guitar repertoire with a different posture and guitar positioning, but it's not proper classical positioning by definition per the methods of Fernando Sor, Mauro Giuliani, Dionisio Aguado, Napoleon Coste, Francisco Tarrega et al.

    With the guitar situated in that fashion, the neck should be pointed more or less 45 degrees. A footstool or cushion on the left leg may be used to facilitate this. The actual angle is determined by the player's physical proportions. Only when the player's posture is correct with the guitar in this position can the left-hand positioning be addressed because proper hand positioning is entirely dependent on proper posture and guitar placement. The only parts of the left hand that may be permitted to touch the guitar while addressing the strings as if to play are the fingertips and the area from the ball of the thumb (the fleshy side of the distal joint) to its tip. Unlike many steel-string hand positions, any part of the palm of the left hand or the area between the webbing of the thumb and the edge of the index finger's main knuckle must never touch the guitar when playing with the exception of barre chords where the edge of the index finger may be used if necessary.

    It seems as if most steel-string players play with the guitar on the right leg, and the back slightly hunched over. This is not necessarily bad but it's not classical positioning and its NOT POSSIBLE to use proper classical-style left hand positioning with the guitar like this. To be perfectly honest, it might do more harm than good trying to shoehorn the hand into doing something awkward with the guitar on the right leg. It's still possible to improve one's technique but IMO the approach must be different.

    I am aware that this post is dogmatic but it's in line with hundreds of years of formal classical guitar pedagogy so a certain amount of dogma is to be expected. If a different style of posture and guitar positioning was capable of producing the virtuoso players from the 18th century onwards (until recently that is) then it would have been described in the aforementioned methods.

    Of course there are some exceptions, but it takes years of proper playing to even begin to understand what the exceptions are.
    Last edited by jckoto3; 04-24-2013 at 05:43 AM. Reason: Clarify "ball of thumb"

  13. #12

    User Info Menu

    You seem kind of angry FF. I have played electric guitar for 23 years and classical for 14 years, I don't need a lecture from you, friend. It goes without saying that my post was my personal opinion, I made no claim that my technique was the technique everyone was supposed to use. But I feel efficient and ergonomic technique is universally good for all styles, and I don't see how anyone could argue that. Your posts directed at me are just plain rude. And I honestly don't care about your opinion, especially if you have to present it like an ass.

  14. #13

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Guitarzen View Post
    I have played... classical for 14 years,
    However long you have played classical for, if you think there is no classical left-hand technique, you have never had a lesson worth having.

  15. #14
    Thanks for the reply's, here is a video I found that seems pretty useful.


  16. #15
    I have tried a Chet Atkins approach to fingerstyle & bought a flamenco about rasgueado plus more advanced topics. I became fair to okay in the Chet mode & quickly realized that I really would not be able to apply rasgueado properly unless I grew out my fingernails.

    In the past 6 months I have really lost interest in fingerstyle though, I really want to develop a classical left hand position & I don't care how long it takes.

  17. #16
    I mean compared to Chet I am terrible but whatever

  18. #17

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnRoss View Post
    However long you have played classical for, if you think there is no classical left-hand technique, you have never had a lesson worth having.

    You are guilty of stealing my thoughts. 30 days in jail for you!

  19. #18

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Guitarzen View Post
    You seem kind of angry FF. I have played electric guitar for 23 years and classical for 14 years, I don't need a lecture from you, friend. It goes without saying that my post was my personal opinion, I made no claim that my technique was the technique everyone was supposed to use. But I feel efficient and ergonomic technique is universally good for all styles, and I don't see how anyone could argue that. Your posts directed at me are just plain rude. And I honestly don't care about your opinion, especially if you have to present it like an ass.

    sorry, didn't mean to be rude, it's just my style.

    it's just that we have some inquisitive players here who are curious about classical guitar technique. i think that we owe them a clear and helpful response.

    if we are to be analytical then we will clearly acknowledge that there is indeed a "classical guitar left hand technique". we can define what it is, or we can define what it isn't (Django*, Wes, Delta blues players, Richie Havens, etc)

    you are correct as far as i am concerned - it's important to use efficient and ergonomic technique. the problem is that not everyone knows what that means - and - it's relative to style.

    i'll offer one final example. classical guitarists have the "pleasure and privilege" of playng masterful music that was composed on a keyboard (Rodrigo, for one of many examples). not that that's a prerequisite (see Lute music), but a classical player will find himself/herself playing spread voicings way up the neck with simultaneous open strings ringing. that kind of playing requires that your fingers be arched and that you only have fingertips on strings. that is a far cry from what the average acoustic or electric steel string player has to contend with, most of the time.


    *not at all fair to pick on Django. i'm just pointing out that with two (2) fingers he absolutely owned the jazz guitar. he was brilliant and that's not really up for discussion, is it? but - 2 fingers would not even come close to working for the classical guitar.
    Last edited by fumblefingers; 04-25-2013 at 01:13 AM.

  20. #19

    User Info Menu

    The structure of most steel-string acoustic guitars does make a classical technique problematic, but not impossible. In any event, the arched fingers and thumb in the middle of the back of the neck are good places to start.

    Sitting position has been codified over the years with the left foot raised by a footstool and the guitar on the left leg, but this has proven to be a real problem for the backs of many performers, such as Christopher Parkening, who retired mainly because of back problems. So, if one uses that method, it is important to make sure everything is as balanced as possible. The Aaron Shearer "Learning the Classic Guitar" books are very good for this. As far as Paco de Lucia's sitting position, it is perfectly suitable for classical players who can get comfortable with it, as Paco proves in his version of the Concierto de Aranjuez, and as the great Brazilian guitarist Raphael Rabello also shows. It also a psychological tool to relax the audience, as I discovered when I first adopted it and played for a classical guitar society. I thought I would be roundly castigated for it, but it turns out that the audience was rather intrigued by the relaxed and informal look I had, and it put them at ease. There are several fine players who have adopted a standing position with a strap system, and Kenny Hill makes a classical guitar for standing up and playing. This is also a really good way to avoid back and joint problems, and has the added benefit of being a more kinetic stance for performance. Gene Bertoncini uses a strap while seated, which allows his feet to be planted on the floor, giving him stability and a straighter spine. Now in his 70s, he still playing beautifully.

    So, the guitar, among the newest of concert instruments, is still undergoing its evolution in many ways. Being among the most personal of instruments, it behooves us to find our own way rather than follow any arbitrary tradition unless it really works for the player.

  21. #20

    User Info Menu

    I am always amazed at people with great classical guitar technique and especially right hand technique.
    In the 'Showcase' part of the forum there are several videos of Sylvain Courtney. His right hand is fantastic! Great phrasing.
    I wish I could do that...so many years with picks though...