4 Ways to Apply Classical Techniques to Rock Guitar

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Notice how the hand aligns with the frets. It makes the pinky a lot easier to use, since it can actually reach all of the notes. While the G-major approach works perfectly well for an awful lot of playing, this classical position can help you more easily fret chords and play melodic passages outside of your comfort zone.

You don’t have to use the classical left-hand position for everything (in fact, I’d recommend using both, depending on what and where you’re playing), but it certainly opens up your options.

Ornate Fingerpicking Patterns

It might seem a little obvious, but in classical guitar-playing, you use your fingers. While some rockers certainly make great use of fingerpicking as well, there is a huge range of patterns and techniques that rock guitarists can learn—if they know just the very basics of reading music.

The combinations your fingers can execute extend far beyond Carter Family Picking or rudimentary folk patterns. But to learn the patterns, you’ll need to know how your picking positions are written on a piece of music. From the thumb to the ring finger of the picking hand, they’re often noted like this:

  • p for pulgar (thumb)
  • i for indice (index)
  • m for medio (middle)
  • a for anular (ring)

The pinky usually isn’t used, simply because with conventional classical technique it can be difficult to reach the strings, though that certainly hasn’t stopped some players.

In the link here, you’ll find the first 20 of Mauro Giulani’s 120 right-hand exercises from Studio per la Chittara, Op. 1—essentially a massive collection of exercises and technique drills. Even if you can’t read music, the right-hand patterns Giuliani uses are simple enough that you can follow along. They do get trickier, though.

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