4 Ways to Apply Classical Techniques to Rock Guitar

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Classical guitarists and rock guitarists tend not to mingle too much. While there are some exceptions—The National’s Bryce Dessner, who trained as a classical guitarist, is one of the rare players that sits in both camps—for the most part the two don’t mix.

But there are definitely techniques and tricks that rock players can borrow from their classical counterparts. After all, the classical guitar has existed in some form or another for almost 500 years—classical players have definitely had time to think about how to approach the instrument.

From finding a new resting position for your fretting hand to bringing chords into your solos, what follows are suggestions that can help open new worlds in your playing. I recommend taking your time and playing around with these ideas—as with any new musical concept, practice makes perfect.

A New Angle for Your Fretting Hand

One thing to experiment with is the angle of the fretting hand. Most players tend to wind up in the “G major claw,” aka, the angle that most players automatically make for a straightforward G major chord. This holds true, generally, even if they’re playing high or low on the neck.

A standard classical approach, however, looks a little different. Francisco Tárrega, the “father of the classical guitar” and possessor of terrific facial hair, demonstrates perfect left-hand technique in this picture:

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