Learning Classical Guitar


In this article I'd like to share my thoughts on learning classical guitar. Before I do I think it could be important to explain the term 'classical guitar' and how it differs from say 'electric guitar' or 'acoustic guitar'.

Fundamentally there are no differences! Guitar is guitar. They all have strings and they all need to be played using our fingers.

Acoustic vs Classical - what's the difference?

For me the primary difference is the type of music that is played on the instrument. Of course there will always be crossover pieces that can work on all 3 types of guitar but for the most part the music that has been written for classical guitar is written for the nylon string guitar.

As that type of guitar used gut strings before nylon strings came along has been around for around 200 years, any music that was written during that time could probably be considered 'classical guitar music'. 

Therefore if you are learning classical guitar there is every chance that you will be playing music that was written a long time ago in Europe. Pieces by composers such as Mauro Giuliani, Francisco Tarrega, Fernando Sor, and Johann Sebastian Bach will be in your repertoire; you will be learning to use at least 4 fingers of your picking hand and you definitely won't be using a pick or plectrum. 

Another big difference is the use of polyphony which simply means playing more than one note at a time in the form of a melody, supporting notes, & a baseline. The truth is that this style or playing can be found in both electric and acoustic guitar but rest assured that the original style developed on the nylon or classical guitar and was transferred across once those two types of guitar found popularity in the early part of the 20th century.


My reason for learning classical guitar was pretty simple - I loved being able to play an entire piece by myself without a band! I also found it intellectually rewarding and I just loved hearing that music played by the greats such as Julian Bream, John Williams, & Andres Segovia

Beware because learning classical guitar is extremely addictive and often players from other genres will come to the classical guitar and fall in love with it and sometimes not return to their previous styles. It matters not for the joy is in the journey and unlocking all the wonderful possibilities that exist on this 'mini orchestra'. 

If you are considering learning classical guitar I suggest finding a great teacher and getting yourself a couple of good foundational books. Online guitar lessons are another marvellous way of gaining knowledge and accelerating your progress. I teach by Skype so be sure to check out the 'Lessons' tab in the menu bar for more information.