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CLASSICAL GUITARArchive-Name: music/classical/guitar/faq

Posting-Frequency: gumy moty

Edited by Joshua Weage ([email protected]). Major contributions and many thanks go to Chris Goodwin who was the prior maintainer of this FAQ. Stuart LeBlanc who has contributed much to the playing technique section of the FAQ. Len Frazier who has in fact written about half of this FAQ. Brian Egras compiled the list of music, composers and personalities in the classical guitar world. Other peoples contributions have come directly from the news group letters. To find the answer to a listed question, search forward with the search parameter 'A*.*' where *.* refers to the number of the question. A cross by a question number indicates that there is no answer for it. If you feel you could write a good answer, please do and send it to me and I'll add it. If you would like to add a question, tell me about it. It won't appear if you don't tell me about it. Any spelling mistakes, errors, and out-right fallacies you notice should be brought to my attention please! Anyone who would like to help compile a more complete FAQ is welcome to, and if you have any comments please tell me. The answers given are not written in granite, and if you feel you can write a better answer, please do so and send it to me. Here goes... Section 1 - Beginners Corner 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9x 1.10 What distinguishes a classical guitar, and a classical guitarist? I want to start playing and need a guitar. Which sort (Quick guide to buying a guitar)? How do I start to learn (teacher or book)? How do I find a teacher? What are the good books? Should I learn tab or 'proper' music notation? What is a good sample of classical guitar music that someone who doesn't know much about it should listen to? Where can I get sheet music, strings and other accessories? I'm new to classical guitar - what pieces can I play? How do I tune my guitar?


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1.11 Where can I find classical guitar music (TAB and notation) on the net? 1.12x What is the difference between an A-frame and a footstool? 1.13x Who is a good teacher in my area?

Section 2 - Strings and other problems 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 What are the best strings for me? How do I take care of my nails? How do I prevent my nails from breaking? How do I repair my nails? How can I quickly memorize a piece? How much should I practice (Also: My fingers hurt!)? How do I avoid RSI, carpel tunnel syndrome, etc? You know that piece in the advert for ... , what is it? I'm taking my guitar on an aeroplane, to the antartic, then to the Saraha desert, and then to the moon. How do I protect it? Who are the composers and performers for the classical guitar? What are the differences between classical guitar and flamenco guitar? Can anyone recommend some flamenco music to listen to? How do I learn to sight read?

ANSWERS ======= A1.1 What distinguishes a classical guitar and a classical guitarist?

A classical guitar has some specific features in its anatomy. It has six strings with the treble strings made of nylon and the bass strings made from nylon wrapped in brass wire. The body is symmetrical ie. no cut-outs at the higher frets and is made of wood. There are no electronics involved, so no pickups - volume comes from simple resonance in the guitar body. A classical guitarist is more than someone who simply plays a classical repetoire. The way the guitar is played is also important. Essentially, a classical guitarist plays by plucking the strings with his right hand fingers and thumb - strumming is a special effect, and no pick is ever used. There are other strong recommendations on the general posture of the entire body and guitar for classical guitarists that distinguish them from other guitarists. A1.2 I want to start playing the guitar and to buy one. Which guitar should I buy? (A quick guide to buying a guitar)?

If you are a complete beginner then I don't suggest you go out and buy a guitar worth hundreds or thousands, but I guess you don't need telling. On the other hand, some cheap guitars are really awful - so here is how to try and tell the difference between a bargain and a bad banjo. The price of a guitar is largely determined by the woods used in its construction - cheap guitar bodies are made from plywood or laminates. As the price increases woods such as rosewoods, cedar and spruce will be encountered. These latter woods will also age well, with the sound of the guitar improving with time, unlilke the cheaper variety which are at their best when new. As a beginner, there is little harm in buying a plywood guitar - as long as it fits some other criterion...


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In general, the guitar should be solid with no loose bits inside - giving the guitar a small shake will determine this. The guitar's neck should be straight. This can be checked by sighting along its length. Good fret work can also be checked at this time by running your fingers along the edge of each side of the neck. Each fret position will need checking to make sure that there is no buzzing of strings on poor frets. Do this simply by playing a note at every single fret position on the board, ensuring you place a your finger close behind each fret when you do so. The action of a guitar (the height of the strings above the fret board) is down to personal choice, but it is recommended that you pick a guitar with low action (strings near the fingerboard) as this will make fretting easier. Do not buy a steel string guitar and replace the strings with nylon ones. There are two main reasons for this. Classical guitars are less rigid than steel strung ones, allowing the strings to vibrate the wood more, producing better sound quality. Secondly, steel string guitars tend to have necks which vary in width. A classical guitar should be 2-1/8" across over its entire length - you'll need the width to correctly finger both the left and right hands. Japanese makes, such as Yamaha, Takamine and Rodriguez are cheap and quite cheerful, usually being perfectly adequate for beginners. It is only after some months/years practice that you may want to spend the money on an instrument where the tone is something very important to you. One overall guideline is this: take someone who is experienced in guitars with you. For example, a tutor (if you have one) or a friend who has been playing classical guitar for several years. Tutors may also be able to show you the good shops, good bargains, or offer you guitars from other students of theirs who are progressing onto a finer instrument. Cost: cheap and cheerful: 50-180 pounds sterling. expensive: 350 - thousands pounds sterling.


How do I start to learn (teacher or book)?

Undoubtedly it is better to have a teacher. A good teacher will be able to guide you correctly through the technical points of posture, hand position, etc. far better than photos or illustrations in texts. It is possible to learn through books, but it will take longer and you may develop poor habits that limit your abilities and are hard to break after months of playing. Of course, the down point about a teacher is that they cost about 17-20 pounds an hour ($15-$25 US) A very useful approach is to find a teacher that offers group classes with 4-6 students. The cost per lesson is usually much lower, and you'll learn both by direct instruction and observing your classmates approach problems. You can later schedule additional group or private classes as you desire. In addition, your teacher will be invaluable in terms of advice on beginner instruments, sources for music, strings, and other beginners in your area with whom you might practice. My advice is to get a teacher if you can, but if you can't, work closely with good, reliable texts.


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Where can I find a teacher?

Look in your local papers, and also ask at your local library where they could well have a list of music tutors. In the UK, the monthly magazine "Classical Guitar" maintains a list of teachers who subscribe. Also, local music shops often have a list of teachers who offer either group or private lessons. A good source of information about teachers is your local guitar society, or any college level institution with a music program. In the U.S., you can also contact teachers through the Guitar Foundation of America. When you contact a prospective teacher, do not hesitate to ask about: o Qualifications. Is the teacher an active performer? Does he or she have a degree? Does he or she have a great deal of teaching experience, in years and numbers of students? Are his or her students satisfied with their lessons? Is their work primarily in classical guitar, or jazz/rock/whatever? Although these questions do not necessarily indicate a good or bad teacher, this is important information to use in your final decision. Approach to study. Does the teacher emphasize the importance of information and the structured introduction and application of it? The teacher should be able to clearly articulate what you will learn from them. Students who really want to become better players quickly identify teachers who seem to spend most of the lesson providing vacuous entertainments, or who do nothing but point out wrong notes and assign new repertoire, or who offer little advice other than to "practice harder." Be particularly wary of those who do not take immediate and specific measures in response to any painful condition which may arise.


In general, find a teacher whose competency you believe you can basically trust, and give them your best effort. As your studies progress, judge whether you are learning anything -- y

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