Introduction To Classical Guitar Tremolo

Posted on December 21, 2010


Tremolo is one of the most popular techniques in classical and flamenco guitar styles. We will begin to study this technique on our two thinnest strings by setting our right hand thumb up over the B string, and our right hand ring, middle and pointer fingers over the high E string.

Place your left hand ring finger on the B string at the fifth fret. Your two thinnest strings should now produce a unison when played together.

To begin the tremolo, play the B string with your right hand thumb. While this note rings out, play the high E string with your right hand ring finger. Play the high E again with your right hand middle finger and finally with your right hand pointer finger.

The pattern goes: thumb, ring, middle, pointer. Repeat this pattern as a stream of sixteenth notes. Your right hand thumb always plays on the B string, while your right hand ring, middle and pointer fingers always play on the high E. Here is example 1:

Next, we will begin focusing on moving our right hand thumb across the strings. Your thumb will play one string, and then cross over to the next. Your right hand ring, middle and pointer fingers will not play any notes but will remain in position above the high E string. Watch the accompanying video for an explanation of the left hand fingering. Basic chord diagrams are included below. Here is example 2:

Finally, we will combine example 1 with example 2. Your right hand thumb and left hand chord positions are identical to example 2 while your right hand ring, middle and pointer fingers resume the function they served in example 1. Every time you play a note with your right hand thumb you follow it up by playing your right hand ring, middle and pointer fingers on the high E string. Unlike example 1, your right hand thumb will be on a different string each time the thumb-ring-middle-pointer pattern is repeated. Here is example 3:

Next time, we will explore the flamenco strumming technique “rasgueo” and begin incorporating the right hand pinky finger.

Lefties, just switch the words “left” and “right” in this article and everything here will apply to you.

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