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Classical Guitar Lessons: Right Hand Fingers - Free Stroke

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In this lesson and subsequent lessons
we're going to cover the right hand
technique and
sound production with the right hand.
If you don't currently have nails,
there are lessons in the curriculum that
will help with nail maintenance.
And of course, I believe that having nails
is essential to playing the classical
guitar as your right hand is, is basically
your sound.
It's, it's, it's how you produce sound,
is with the plucking of the right hand
So here we go.
They are numbered, as you will soon find
out, and lettered.
Well I should say, the left hand, hand
fingers are numbered,
which we'll cover in another lesson.
Each of the, the, the right hand fingers
that we play classical guitar with
are assigned a letter designation.
The thumb is p, the index finger is i,
the middle finger is m, and the ring
finger is a.
In classical guitar, traditionally we do
not use our pinky finger.
It, it does have a letter designation as
well, it's called c.
And, but in classical guitar it's, it's
not really used for
scales or arpeggios or, or fingerings.
P, i, m, and a are used for, for basically
that you need in order to play anything in
the repertoire.
So here we go, we're just gonna
demonstrate each of the fingers.
We're going to start actually with a.
If you can produce a good tone with your a
on the first string, open first string
you're in business.
Because it is the hardest note on the
guitar to get a round, warm tone out of,
is the open first string.
And I like to start with the a finger
that really kinda sets your hand position.
You want a pretty straight wrist,
not a lot of deviation this way, or this
This, while maybe it can look straight at
a certain angle in the mirror,
is not straight, I'm actually flexing.
I'm actually flexing muscles up here to
hold that position.
It should not feel like your holding your
wrist or your arm or
your hand in any position at all.
It should just very, in a very relaxed
manner just
come to rest on the guitar here, on the
And you can see if I lean back here you
can see the space that I'm occupying here.
I'm gonna roll up my sleeve a little bit
and you'll see a little bit of the arch.
This is probably too much arch.
This is probably too little arch.
Especially if you're coming from other
kinds of guitar playing.
You'll see a lot of players playing
classical guitar with this very low arch
in the wrist, almost hugging the guitar.
And this is not advisable, because it
really limits the mobility.
And you're gonna need you're gonna need a
pretty good arch here,
and some room in the hand to develop the
mobility of your right hand fingers.
Okay, so again, starting with the a
finger, I'm just going to plant and
we're gonna talk about the contact point
on the, on each of your fingers.
The contact point is the point at which
the strings should meet your nail and
your fingertip.
And this contact point is really the
center of your sound.
[SOUND] And as I plant, go ahead and feel
the string a little bit.
Put a little bit of potential energy into
the string with your a fingernail.
Again, on the contact point, both your
nail and
fingertip should touch the, the string at
the same time.
And then,ah, the stroke is really
basically a combination of this
large knuckle, the top knuckle, or large
The middle knuckle, which I'm moving right
now, I'm moving my i, m and
a and c, from the middle knuckle
Here I am moving it from the top knuckle,
So, the work is provided by each of these
two knuckles,
a little bit of work from each of these
should do the job.
The tip joint, the small joint here,
should be fairly firm through the stroke.
[SOUND] It should not require a lot of
effort to keep the to keep that fir, firm.
[SOUND] You should not necessarily try to
actively bend the tip joint or to actively
collapse it, like this.
[SOUND] You'll see some playing like this
[SOUND] and rest strokes,
[SOUND] collapsing of the tip joint.
That, you want to avoid that.
Just let it naturally, let the middle
knuckle and
the top knuckle do the work, and then you
simply close your hand.
It should really feel as simple as that.
That you plant and then [SOUND] close your
Basically open, close, open, close.
The closing of the hand is, is provided by
the flexor group of muscles.
And the opening of the hand, as you, as
illustrated here,
is the extensor group, ex, extensor muscle
And that's what returns your finger back
to the string.
Once again, a finger on the first string,
planting first feeling that contact point.
[SOUND] And then releasing.
Just kind of have a nice [SOUND] brisk
explosion through the string.
And now we're gonna do the same
thing with the M finger on the second
Eventually you'll see that A will be on
the first M on the 2nd I, on the 3rd and
then the thumb on the sixth string and
fifth, we'll demonstrate that.
And that's basically a pretty good example
of eventually of a chord or
an arpeggio that you might play,
or this, chords.
But, so, I don't mean to force you at off
That's kind of why I'm, I'm going on, on
each of the, the strings with this.
So, M, find your contact point.
Again, your wrist should look straight if
you're looking at a mirror or
when you practice on your own, or you're
seeing this video.
You'll see that you should see that this
wrist here is fairly, fairly straight.
A little bit of arch in the wrist and here
we go, find the contact point and release.
[SOUND] Okay, one more.
[SOUND] So that's an example of planting.
See, that's planting.
[SOUND] And then the, then the stroke.
You can also once that becomes more
comfortable you can actually do a what I
call a sweep stroke.
Or, or a legato free stroke.
Basically what we're doing right now are
free strokes.
And that's where if you can try to find it
you can you can position the fingertip and
keep the rest of the hand really relaxed
position it just above the string.
And without planting you give it a nice
I like to call these sweep strokes, but
they're basically rest strokes that are
legato where they, they are,
they don't have any plant on behind the
stroke, okay?
And then going on to the I finger, the
index finger on the third string,
same thing.
I'll do an example of a planted stroke
where I find the contact point first and
plant to put a little bit of potential
energy into
the string
and release.
The more potential energy you put into
the string
the fuller and louder the note you'll get.
If I just lightly plant, and put a little
bit of energy into the string, and
then release.
I end up with a softer note, dynamically.
So once again, if I put, see if I grab the
string, I grab and
put more energy into it and then release,
you can hear how loud that note is.
And as you cultivate your tone and sound.
[SOUND] yeah, you should hear the nice
wide full [SOUND] sound as you,
as you practice this.
Go for a nice full sound as you're hearing
in this lesson.
And now it's going into the thumb.
The thumb stroke.
Again find the contact point.
You'll see different angles that were we
have a,
we have a nice angle from underneath.
And you'll see here that of course my
thumb is ridiculously long.
That'll be explained in, in other videos.
My, I have, I like to have a very long
thumbnail for my mechanics.
It keeps my arch really nice and
And there we go, there's our thumb stroke.
The thumbnail looks really really long,
you can see that if you can see from these
different angles
that indeed I have a contact point, where
the nail appendage and
my thumb, the tip of my thumb, the fleshy
tip of my thumb.
Are meeting at the same time before I
perform the stroke.
Now we have to talk about the thumb
stroke itself, and the thumb joints.
It's very easy to locate the fingers I, M,
A where your top knuckle is here this,
this knuckle here.
And where the middle knuckle is and where
the tip knuckle is,
the tip joint, middle joint, top joint,
knuckle, or knuckle joint.
We have these same joints in the thumb as
but one of them is hidden [LAUGH]
It's underneath kinda hidden underneath
the skin it's really hard to see.
Your top joint of your thumb is way back
here underneath all this,
kind of, webbing, and, and moves back
I don't know if you can see that, you can,
from the wrist here.
That's where, where that, that joint is
it's all the way back in the wrist.
That's where you should [SOUND] really
move your thumb from.
Your middle knuckle, which is here, a lot
of people think that this is their top
knuckle because it's in line with the top
knuckles of the other fingers, but
it indeed is the middle knuckle.
You should not try to actively move that
knuckle in the stroke.
Same thing with the tip knuckle, the, the
small knuckle of the thumb.
That joint and the middle joint you should
keep try to keep firm through the stroke.
If the stroke of the thumb unlike the
fingers should be produced only with
the top knuckle, that top joint that's
deep in the hand near the wrist.
Like this,
And another thing that you should be
noticing is that I'm running my thumb, I'm
completing my thumb stroke by following
through right into the first finger.
I'm not trying to stop the thumb stroke.
Or trying to avoid hitting the first
finger, or avoid anything.
I'm just letting the natural path of the
follow through of my thumb
complete its action.
If, if your first finger, your index
finger excuse me,
your I finger happens to be in the way
then, so be it.
It will not impede the progress of your I
Later on in arpeggios or any other
exercises or any other pieces for
that matter.
So, that's the first lesson on the
right-hand fingers and
right-hand technique, and we will have
more lessons coming up.
Thank you very much.