What is the best way to learn Flamenco guitar so you’ll be able to spice up your guitar playing with new timbres and expressive?
In case you want to reach a mastery level of the right-hand technique, the flamenco guitarists brought it to the full extent.
Also, if you already play the classical guitar, it would be a perfect match for you since a large part of its repertoire is based on Spanish music.
It’s not only a guitar it’s a culture
Without a doubt, the best way to learn Flamenco guitar is to born Into the culture.
The art of the Flamenco is the product of the culture and the guitar is only one part of this.
Whereas you can learn a great deal about playing flamenco guitar from those sources, the lessons are at their best if you immerse yourself to the greatest extent possible in all aspects of Flamenco.
First Best way to learn Flamenco Guitar
If you can afford to live several months to a few years in southern Spain and learn from the local guitarists, go to the local pub every night where you do, sometimes without spontaneously, flamenco jams, it would be ideal for you.
Another option, as a friend of mine who is an amateur guitarist has done for a few years, is going there for an intensive month of studying with a particular teacher every year and return with material for a year’s practice( he found his guitar teacher in Jerez De La Frontera).
For those to whom neither of the above is an option, you have many Flamenco books and online courses.
All the best sellers Flamenco guitar book on Amazon are great.
As for Online Courses, I found the guitar course of Adam Del Monte as of a great value or this of Manolo Franco which is comprehensive and also contains transcriptions in tabs and standard notation.
In addition, I would recommend you to attend Flamenco performances listen to the music of the greatest flamenco guitarists ( listed below) and learn as much about flamenco dance and song as you do about flamenco guitar.
As soon as you take hold of the basic techniques and rhythms I urge you to find Flamenco artists within your community and use your guitar skills to accompany first dancers and later singers.
You can learn the art of Flamenco more quickly and profoundly by placing yourself in the context of dance and song accompaniment.
Allow yourself to become completely obsessed with the art and to surround yourself with an ambiance of Flamenco aficionados.
What type of guitar can you play flamenco?
The best way to learn flamenco guitar in on a nylon string guitar although the traditional flamenco guitar has a special aesthetic of its own, any nylon string guitar can be “set up” for Flamenco playing.
Flamenco guitar Luthiers build the instrument differently than classical guitar using different woods and with some change in the details of construction.
Primarily, Spanish cypress wood is used for the back and sides of the flamenco guitar.
Cypress is lighter in color and weight than the Rosewood generally used for good quality classical.
The wood of a Blanca(white i.e cypress) Is usually shaved thinner then interior braces are more dedicate and the overall dimensions slightly smaller than the Negra(black, i.e rosewood).
Also unique among all the modern guitars, flamenco instruments are often fitted with the traditional wooden tuning pegs, rather than standard tuning machines.
The instruments which came to be classified as either Flamenco or classical have distinct sound qualities, each appropriate to the style of music they are designed to play.
classical guitars need to be richer and more sustaining in tone whereas Flamenco guitars tend to have a brighter, more percussive sound.
The Choice of Blanca for Flamenco, however, was originally more a function of economics than aesthetics, musical or otherwise.
As the modern guitar developed in Spain during the second half of the 19th century, the more expensive instruments were built with Rosewood imported from Brazil and finely machined tuning gears, intended for well- to- do, upper-class patrons who studied classical music.
These guitars were much too costly for the Gypsy players who could only afford cheaper instruments fashioned of locally grown cypress and fitted easily curved wooden pegs.
Many Flamenco player today prefer the power and projection of rosewood and consider cypress “old fashioned”. The first Flamenco guitarist of international prominence to use a classical guitar was Mario Escudero, who had this to say on this subject:
“there are no classical guitars and no Flamenco guitars- there are just good guitars in bad guitars.”
As mentioned earlier you can play Flamenco on any nylon string guitar.
the only edition is the golpeador ( tap plate ) which protects the soundboard against the golpe ( tapping) techniques used in Flamenco.
Any competent luthier or guitar repair person can fit one for you.
Less important but recommended for Flamenco is in a lower “action” ( Height of strings from fingerboard) than in usual on classical guitar.
Lower action facilitates the playing of slurs and produces the most appropriate sound of the rasgueado strumming technique.
Flamenco playing position
It would be contrary to the spirit of Flamenco to dictate a proper sitting position for playing the guitar.
Flamenco playing positions can be casual or formal depending on what is comfortable for each player.
The traditional position is to sit with the big straight both feet firmly on the floor and the lower bout of the guitar resting on the right thigh. The head of the guitar in health quite high so the left hand is at eye level when playing in the first position.
Many concert Flamenco guitarists choose the classical guitar position with the left foot elevated on a footstool and the waist of the guitar resting on the left thigh.
A compromise between these two was used by Sabicas: left leg on a high footstool to lower boat on the right thigh and upper boat on the left thigh. Paco de Lucia and many of his generation have adopted a more casual position with the right leg crossed over the left and the guitar resting on the right thigh.
All of these possibilities are perfectly suitable as long as they are comfortable and workable. In choosing one, consider the position your body would be in without holding the guitar:
is your back straight? are your hands and arms free to move comfortably? can you remain in this position without strain or fatigue?
As with the classical guitar, Flamenco right-hand technique makes use of the fingernails, not only the fingers. Properly shaped nails open many possibilities where tone production is concerned and are an important component of some of the techniques themselves.
Nail length and shape are of course a matter of personal preference but popular wisdom has it that flamencos generally use shorter nails on their index middle and ring fingers then classical players and a longer one on the thumb and little finger.
Flamenco players especially those who are accompanied dancers are prone to excessive nail wear caused by playing a lot of rasgueado. To protect and fortify the nail surface they often coat the nails with any number of products- clear lacquer, various glues or even false nails made of dental acrylics.
A suggested list of Flamenco guitarists
Every important Flamenco guitarist has made his own contribution to the tradition and certain variations are inevitably associated with artists.
Here is a list of prominent Flamenco guitarists from the 18th century until today:
Ramon Montoya 1880-1949
Nino Ricardo 1904-1971
Diego Del Gastor 1908-1973
Mario Escudero 1928-2004
Pepe Habicuela 1944
Paco De Lucia 1947- 2014
Gerardo Núñez 1961
Vicente Amigo 1967
Diego del Morao 1978
If you already play the nylon string guitar, flamenco techniques will enrich your guitar playing even if you only want to add some color to your guitar playing.
If you consider going deep into this distinct art, I would suggest you take advantage of the online courses and available books. After you require the basics, כind yourself a good place in Andalusia to study, or take private lessons with a local recommended guitarist there.