Strength and Accuracy for the Guitarist


Your Weekly Dexterity and Stamina Exercise

Updated November 18, 2004


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Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx


As a native New Yorker and an American, I am still angered by the cowardly attacks of 9/11. Unless we restore New York City's skyline to its condition prior to September 11th, 2001, the miserable scum who attacked us will have won! Visit and rebuild America!



The technique that often gains and loses favor for some odd reason.

And this is strictly aimed at classical guitarists.

Referred to more commonly as the 'rest' stroke, it is easily understood by thinking of the rest stroke as a right hand plucking technique whereby the plucking finger travels past the string as it is plucks and comes to rest on the string adjacent to it. [IE when plucking the g string, the finger comes to rest on the d string.]

I spoke with another former student of the late great Albert Blain and he has told me that in certain academic circles the apoyando or rest stroke is no longer taught. Blain pushed apoyando on his students for one reason: artistic expression. Why? Well, in Blain's day, acoustic electric instruments were mostly unheard of and I know, as a disciple of Segovia, he would have refused any artificial amplification of the instrument as an abomination. The apoyando allowed the recitalist to generate higher volumes from an acoustic instrument than would be available using the free stroke.

The phiti to the right shows the
free stroke. In this stroke, the finger strikes the string at an upward angle allowing it to pass the adjacent string without touching it. Because the finger is expending energy to curl up towards the palm as well as (some would say) having to lose impetus through increased accuracy to miss that adjacent string, the free stroke is a thinner sound, less volume being the most obvious difference. I have known some fine players who have eschewed the apoyando and do play at good volume and with full tone. They have expended years of extra effort to do so. Why not use a tool that works? Apoyando is not evil!

The photo at left shows the apoyando or rest stroke. Think of it sort of like the way a bass player plucks the strings. Please note that in these self-taken pictures--try taking pictures of your hand while holding a guitar and demonstrating a pluck--that my hand position has not rotated away from proper position. Some players often rotate the wrist to switch to apoyando mode and I believe it is this unnecessary movement that has pushed some players and instructors away form the apoyando. Please note that my finger has just completed plucking the g string and is resting on the d string. My finger is straight, the entire weight of the finger has been used to produce a fat, round and loud tone. My free stroke is almost as loud, almost as fat, almost... I prefer having that little extra. It's like Spinal Tap's Marshalls that go to eleven. I've got that little bit extra when it is needed.

Okay, so you play and instrument equipped with a Fishman bridge or are mic'd up and running through the sound system from hell. Why would you need an apoyando technique? Well, how many guitarists don't want a broader dynamic range?

Learn the apoyando. It is not hard to master and will result in higher volume and fatter tone. Use the Segovia edition 'Major and Minor Diatonic Scales' book and run your scales both rest and free stroke.

Andres Segovia: Diatonic Major and Minor Scales Composed by Andres Segovia. For guitar. Format: instructional book. With standard guitar notation, fingerings and introductory text. Scales. 9x12 inches. Published by Columbia Music Company.
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Enjoy these exercises and come back next week for more!.


The Classic Guitar Method: Now in one volume, much of what the novice classical guitarist will need to know to lead him or her to the recital stage. From proper instrument care and maintenance to the necessary technical skills, musical mind-set, and the standard repertoire—all exposed and explored with enough detail and insight that the student will wish to keep this book handy years to come as a ready reference source.

With the aid of a good teacher, the student will rapidly progress through The Classic Guitar Method attaining technical proficiency and musical eloquence.

This method stems from the need to incorporate a number of schools into a single cohesive curriculum. Years of honing a logical approach to the guitar and the creation of music culminate in this volume. As a self-proclaimed Disciple of Valdés-Blain , much of that famed teacher's focus can be found in Mr. Pellegrin's method.

ISBN: 978-1-4116-9442-2

Published by PAB Entertainment Group, P.O. Box 2369 Scotia, New York 12302

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