Rasgueado Guitar Technique

Posted on January 24, 2011

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Rasgueado is a flamenco guitar strumming technique using the back of the right hand fingernails in a similar way that a flatpicking guitarist would use the pick, creating a very Spanish sound. Adding a capo to your guitar creates an authentic sound. Here are the chords we will use in this lesson:

Begin with your right hand in the same position we adopted in the first two lessons (Introduction to Classical Guitar Right Hand Technique and Introduction to Classical Guitar Tremolo). Plant your right hand thumb on your D string, and make a fist with your other right hand fingers. Now extend your right hand pointer finger, as if you were pointing something out, while brushing the back of your nail over the three thinnest strings. Finally bring your right hand pointer finger back into your fist, as if signaling “come here”, while brushing those strings again on the upstroke. Here is example 1:

Now lets get more right hand fingers involved. Begin again with your right hand in a fist.
Extend your right hand pinky in the same manner as your pointer finger in example 1. Instead of retracting your pinky afterwards, follow it by extending your ring finger then middle finger then pointer finger, in that order. The pattern goes pinky-ring-middle-pointer. At first you should do this in a triplet rhythm as shown in the next example. Once you are comfortable with that, you can speed it up and create a very thick attack by playing those 4 fingers almost simultaneously. Here is example 2:

In example 3 we’ll combine examples 1 and 2. First strum all six strings as in example 2. From that position, retract only your pointer finger as in example 1, brushing over your three thinnest strings. Continue the pattern by extending and retracting your pointer finger as in example 1, until you want another accent. For the accent use pinky-middle-ring-pointer on all 6 strings as in example 2. Here is example 3:

Finally we’ll include your right hand thumb. Begin with your right hand in a fist and your right hand thumb extended, as if you were hitchhiking. Strum all 6 strings from thinnest to thickest with the back of your right hand thumb nail by turning your right hand wrist as if you were turning a door knob. Next extend your right hand ring and pointer fingers as in the previous examples. The pattern is thumb-ring-pointer. Play this is a triplet pattern. Here is example 4:

Have fun combining these techniques with other chords with and without the capo. The techniques we studied in our first two lessons will compliment the rasgueado in your improvisations. Next time we’ll discuss classical guitar vibrato.

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

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