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Guitar lesson: How to start playing classical in 10 minutes

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Guitar skills (opens in new tab): Classical guitar (opens in new tab) is one of our instrument’s oldest styles, dating back to the late 18th Century. Strung with nylon strings and played fingerstyle, classical guitars (opens in new tab) have a warmer sound than a steel string.

What you need to know

Posture: Classical nylon-string guitar (opens in new tab) is usually played sat down. Right-handed players rest the guitar on their left leg and use a footstool to raise this limb. The posture feels unusual but provides better hand position.

Learning: Fingerstyle instructions are written in music using the PIMA system. The P means thumb and I, M and A refer to the first, second and third fingers. The fourth finger is rarely used.

Picking: Try to keep your picking hand quite still, moving your thumb and fingers only for the most economic and relaxed technique. Your thumb should pick to one side of your fingers.

Three key players to hear

1. Julian Bream


2. John Williams  


3. Jason Vieaux


Your first classical piece 

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Start by practising the melody on the middle two strings. Fret with your first, second and fourth fingers and pick all the notes with your thumb. 

You can add the low E string with your thumb too. In between each note pick the open strings with your first and second fingers while allowing all the notes to ring together.

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