Wondering – can you use a pick on a classical guitar? Wonder no more! Our article explains all.
For some musicians, using a pick to perform on the classical guitar is like committing a sacrilege. Many well-known guitarists like Willie Nelson have been seen utilizing picks with them, resulting in astonishing classical music, though.
Using picks in classical guitars is acceptable. The classical guitar can produce a strong, brilliant tone when performed using picks. However, the lack of a pickguard that safeguards the surface from the pick that is placed beneath the strings could destroy the guitar. Usually, they need to be played with using fingernails since that is when they become more efficient and effective. Therefore, it is possible to play a classical guitar using a pick though it could cause damage to the finishes if one fails to be keen with how they pick.
Though classical and flamenco guitars lack pickguards, other types of guitars like electric guitars and steel string guitars have this characteristic.
Playing Techniques For Classical Guitar
The left-right hand and posture are common techniques for playing classical guitars. During a guitar presentation, the hand that makes a sound significantly influences variables like tone variation and musical dynamic.
By and large, every musical expression is determined by the hand which plays the strings. Generally, the dominant arm, typically the right hand with most players, has always been designated for this function. String musicians typically use the right hand to operate the bow for the same reasons. For the left-handers, the case would be the opposite.
A classical guitar is usually held by the left leg, which is elevated by the footrest. Alternatively, one could raise the guitar with the aid of another device to place it in the middle of the player’s torso. There are basic factors to consider while selecting a playing stance; they include; posture and the left and right hands.
Posture influences the stability of the classical guitarist. It also helps avoid any muscular tension emanating from the assumed position. It also provides the arms with free movement to execute any technical moves without having problems supporting the instrument. Lastly, a comfortable posture provides the classical guitarist with a conducive environment to concentrate when playing the different chords, thus eliminating any potential discomfort or fatigue that could occur due to being uncomfortable.
The Right-Hand Technique
The right arm serves as the etude’s primary driving power. The hand should be complete with no additional motion to enable it to work effectively throughout the piece. The arm also needs to extend backward and forward as it falls and rises from the sixth string to the first string in conjunction with your four fingers playing the strings.
The Left-Hand Technique
Except for a delayed break in the twenty-fifth bar, the left hand on Etude one is so often immobile and only alternates after every two bars. Therefore, extracting chord forms from the sets is the initial thing to tackle. Strumming through every note in the sequence while incorporating the guiding fingers and necessary fingering should start at bar one.
The process will enable quicker transitions when the speed picks up because the fingering won’t take as much concentration. It is beneficial to spend a few minutes switching between the notes after you have internalized them. The strings must squeak as little as possible; concentrate on fast releases and precise finger positioning.
Key Differences Between Classical And Fingerstyle Guitar Playing
Classical guitar playing is a technique used to play guitar while accompanied by written repertory to help guide the musical presentation. In contrast, the fingerstyle playing technique comprises using fingertips other than barre tones to make a performance.
Then again, classical guitar playing has been very structured since it elaborates on which fingernails should pluck particular strings, unlike the fingerstyle playing technique where the key element is an alternating thumb bassline rhythm, where the thumbs repeatedly strike multiple baseline strings.
Due to a clear emphasis on both technique and understanding of compositions, classical guitar players formally learn the playing skills. On the contrary, fingerstyle playing is mostly self-taught. In classical guitar playing style, the melodies sang are composed, but in fingerstyle playing, most of the music played is from personal creations or renditions.
Fingerstyle guitar playing is an extremely popular and well-known type of music that many artists have done covers or original songs in this style. There is one more thing called ‘finger picking.’ The difference between “fingerpicking” (using just your fingers) versus ‘fingerstyle,’ which includes using a thumb pick as well, can be subtle, but it’s more jargon than anything else since they both will help you create a technique for building up techniques within songs by utilizing them together like before going into full-blown performances with all five members on stage at once!
Can You Use A Pick On A Classical Guitar?
Picks are pretty much allowed in classical guitars, though to many guitarists playing with a pick sounds bizarre. Since the particular ins has no pickguard like the electric and steel-stringed guitars, playing the instrument with a pick could destroy the finishes on the instrument’s body. However, the decision of whether using the pick on a classical guitar is right or not lies with the guitarist.
Some owners are cool with having their instruments played with soft picks, whereas others do not enjoy picking on them. Therefore, it is more of a personal decision; though, there is no problem in using a soft pick on a classical guitar, only that it could destroy the finishes on your guitar while picking only if they are heavier and your playing pattern is aggressive.
Can You Strum A Classical Guitar Using Pick?
No, one cannot strum a classical guitar using a pick since most of their tones are the form of polyphonic music. It isn’t easy to play polyphonic music tones using singular flat picks, which are meant to be strummed when playing the instrument. Therefore it is not possible to strum a classical guitar using a pick and produce polyphonic music at the same time.
Should A Beginner Use A Pick On Classical Guitar?
One could argue that employing a flat pick is less complicated and thus more user-friendly for beginners. It is less complicated than using several fingers across several strings, strumming a single chord at the moment, or running a soft pick through the chords. Picks help prevent finger injuries which could encourage beginners to use them more often to avoid finger injuries during practice. Therefore, beginners should use soft picks on their classical guitars to avoid finger injuries since it is less complicated than using fingers to play several strings.
How To Choose A Pick For Classical Guitar?
Picks made from nylon (softer picks) could be suitable since they are not heavy and would deliver a crisper sound, brighter tone, louder sound, and clarity without being destructive. The pick’s thickness significantly influences its sound. However, for a classical guitar, a medium/thinner pick, often called a softer pick, would work perfectly since it most resembles the sound and thickness of the nails. Otherwise, it might result in a mellow sound.
Use Pickguard To Protect Your Classical Guitar Finish
Installing a pick guard on your instrument is unnecessary since one uses their finger to play. However, if you need to explore how they would sound when singing a pick, then it would be advisable to install nylon pickguards that are not very thick to enable you to use softer picks while playing with the nylon strings. A medium/thinner guitar pick would work well for a nylon string guitar since it resembles the sound of the nails more than it does to the pick. Therefore one might need to install a pickguard underneath their classical guitar strings. You can read our comprehensive guide on 6 different types of pickguards for a better explanation of pickguards individually.
Q. IS IT A GOOD IDEA TO USE A PICK ON CLASSICAL GUITAR?
Ans. It all depends on how the classical guitarists think since there are guitarists who do not find it necessary to have picked on their classical guitars while others want to have picked on their instruments. Therefore, it is upon the classical guitarists to decide whether it’s a good thing to have a pick on their instrument. It would be cool to have a pick on your classical guitar if at all you understand how to use it. Picks also have the advantage of rendering playing to be much easier than when using fingers. Therefore, it would be an excellent idea to have a pick on a classical guitar, particularly for new classical guitar beginners. Since it also helps maintain your nails in good shape. Using picks helps protect the fingernails from potential damage while playing the classical guitar.
Q. IS IT HARD TO PLAY CLASSICAL GUITAR WITHOUT A PICK?
Ans. Playing a classical guitar without a pick is hard. The pick makes playing much easier for classical guitarists since they don’t have to use their fingers to play. Originally, classical guitarists performed alone, with the guitarist providing both the accompaniment and tune. They accomplish this by playing various strings simultaneously and individually with their thumbs and fingers. As such, compared to electric and acoustic guitars, classical guitars are challenging to play since it takes some time for one to understand the different techniques used in playing classical guitars. One has to study the patterns of its playability, unlike in acoustic guitars, where playability is mostly self-taught since the pick makes it easier for the guitarist to play.
Classical guitars are amongst the hardest stringed instruments to learn how to play. Since it requires one to use fingernails to play them and have various techniques of playing. Unlike electric and acoustic guitars, which have been picked, it is more challenging for the guitarist to use the instruments. However, that does not negate that classical guitars can also be strummed using picks. The pick type must be compatible with the nylon strings for classical guitars.
Medium or thinner picks are recommended for classical guitar music. Classical guitarists also need to understand the different ways in which one can play an instrument. There are several playing techniques used for classical guitars (the right-hand-left hand technique and the posture), as I mentioned above, which greatly influence the quality of playability as well.
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James B. Laskowski was born and raised in Fresno, CA. He has been working as an acoustic and classical guitar expert at Instrument Insight for over 5 years. In this time, he has gained a great understanding of acoustic and classical guitars and gears, their materials, build quality, playability, and versatility. James also has an in-depth knowledge of the history and origins of many acoustic and classical guitar brands.