How to Play Flamenco Guitar

Flamenco is more than a guitar playing style. It is an art form that originated in the Andalusia region of Spain, and incorporates music and dancing. You don’t have to be from Spain to learn to play flamenco guitar, although familiarity with the culture may help. Flamenco uses the guitar in ways that may be unfamiliar to you, even if you’re a more experienced guitarist. The techniques can be difficult, but with patience and persistence you can master them. If you want to learn to play flamenco guitar, it helps if you already know how to play classical guitar.[1]

  1. 1 Warm up your wrist and fingers before practicing. Flamenco guitar requires tremendous dexterity and coordination in your strumming hand. Even if you’ve been practicing these techniques for awhile, warm ups are important to prevent cramping or more serious injuries.[2]
    • Stretch your fingers gently, and do the picking techniques slowly until your fingers feel loose and nimble. Then you’ll be ready to play.
    • If you feel your fingers start to cramp up while you’re playing, pause and stretch them out before playing again.
  2. 2 Practice hammer-ons and pull-offs. If you’ve played any rock guitar, you may be familiar with this technique. Flamenco guitarists call it legato, and it gives you the ability to play alternating notes on one string more quickly.[3]
    • To play a hammer-on, play a note on one string and then add a finger to the same string so that you’re playing a higher note. You’ll play both notes while only plucking or strumming with your other hand once.
    • A pull-off is the same as a hammer-on in the opposite direction. Instead of adding a finger, you pull a finger off. This enables you to play a lower note on the same string.
  3. 3 Start strumming with the 5 stroke tremolo. If you already have experience with classical guitar, you may already know how to play 4 stroke tremolo. This flamenco technique simply expands on what you already know by adding another stroke at the end.[4]
    • Play the base or root note on the lowest string with your thumb. On the higher E string, play 4 strokes continuously using your index, ring, and middle fingers. You’ll play a total of 5 strokes in this order: thumb, index, ring, middle, index.
    • The goal of a tremolo is to play as fast as you can. Play slowly when you’re starting out, until your fingers get used to the pattern. Then start gradually speeding up.
  4. 4 Exercise your fretting hand to build strength and dexterity. Your fretting hand must have the strength to move quickly between notes and chords, fretting them all cleanly. Practicing chords and moving between chords without strumming is a good way to increase speed in and strength in the fingers of your left hand.[5]
    • Commit to doing strengthening exercises for 10 to 15 minutes a day every day. You may not notice a huge difference at first, but over time you’ll notice that fretting becomes easier.
    • Try basic strength building exercises, such as pressing your thumb and the tip of each finger together. You can do these exercises while reading or watching TV.
  1. 1 Focus on Major scales. Major scales figure prominently in flamenco music. If you’ve already been playing guitar for awhile, they are likely some of the first scales you learned as well. Try playing the scales in a way that emulates the basic rhythm and meter of common flamenco styles.[6]
    • For example, the flamenco style Alegrías is typically in C Major. Since this is a fairly simple scale with no sharps or flats, it can be…
Sasha Harriet

Sasha Harriet

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Sasha Harriet

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