Classical Guitar Tone Production

For many of us, it’s the sound of the classical guitar that drew us to the instrument. Any of us who have attempted to move passed the role of listening and into that of playing have realized that the very sound that drew us to the instrument doesn’t easily emerge from beginner fingers. In the end, the the sound we achieve is a combination of our conscience and the instrument we play, but I think it’s important to address the mechanics. This means looking into our technique, fingernail shape and our ability at manipulating both while using your ears as a guide. The ability to create a consistently confident sound leads not only to improved tone, but allows us to explore the true potential of each guitar we play.

Here are some key points of Good Tone production.

Goal # 1 is Noiseless String Connection. 

  1. Creating a smooth, glass-like surface on the edge of the fingernails
  2. Making a simulataneous connection with both flesh and fingernail

Goal # 2 is Gradual Departure

  1. Attacking the string from an angle using the nail edge instead of the underside of the nail.
  2. Creating a vertical string motion (pushing the string inward)
  3. Make sure the string departs the fingernail on precipice of the last third of your nail tip. The exact point of departure should be smooth and round on all sides of the nail, rather than merely the edge. So make sure there isn’t a sharp edge or point where the string departs the nail.

Things to Avoid

  • Hooking the string with your nail
  • Pulling the string away from the guitar
  • A rough, unfinished nail surface​