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What is
the
Classical
Guitar?

Sound Production


The classical guitar is a type of acoustic guitar. Acoustic guitars have a hollow body that allows them to produce sound without the need for electrical amplification.


Tuning


As with most guitars, the classical guitar has six strings that are tuned as follows: (lowest pitched) E, A, D, G, B, E (highest pitched)


String Material


Unlike other acoustic guitars, classical guitars have nylon strings rather than steel strings. Nylon strings produce a more mellow sound and help to give the classical guitar its unique sound.


Size and Shape


Classical guitars typically have a smaller sized body than steel strung acoustic guitars. The smaller size allows classical guitarists to adopt a more vertical playing position. (See playing position below.)


Left Hand Technique


For a right-handed guitarist this is the hand that frets the strings to change the pitch of the notes produced. The technique for the classical guitar is similar to that of other playing styles. Although there are some differences such as the vibrato technique used.


Right Hand Technique


For a right-handed guitarist this is the hand that is used to strike the strings to produce sound. Classical guitars are traditionally played by plucking the strings using the thumb, index, middle and ring finger. It is much rarer in classical guitar to strum the intrument and devices such as plectrums are never used.


Playing Position


Classical guitarists perform with the instrument in a fairly upright position. This stance aids technique by making it easier to reach notes located furthest away from the musician. The position is created by placing the guitar between the legs with the weight taken by the left knee. The left foot is normally placed on a foot stool to increase the angle of the guitar further.


Origins of the Classical Guitar


Although guitars existed since the baroque period with origins stemming from the medieval instrument the lute, the style and shape that we associate with the modern classical guitar was designed and popularised by guitar maker Torres in the Late 1800's.