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Overview of the Classical Guitar (Guitar Lesson)

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Danny Voris

Overview of the Classical Guitar

Danny provides an overview of the topics that will be discussed in this lesson set. He also explains the origin of the classical guitar.

Taught by Danny Voris in Classical Guitar seriesLength: 5:57Difficulty: 0.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (02:04) Lesson Series Overview Welcome to the Phase 2 Classical Guitar series with Danny Voris! In this lesson series, Danny will cover the following topics:

-Origin of the classical guitar

-Anatomy of the classical guitar

-Installing nylon strings

-Proper posture and playing position

-Shaping the nails

-Essential right hand techniques including tone production, free strokes, rest strokes, tremolo, rasgueados, arpeggios and much more

- Essential left hand hand techniques including hammer-ons, pull-offs, finger independence, finger stretches, trills, mordents, and much more

-Famous classical guitarists and recordings

-A vast array of repertoire from each of the prominent style periods (Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and 20th / 21st Century)

-Arranging popular melodies for solo classical guitar

-World music styles
Chapter 2: (03:54) Overview of the Classical Guitar I. Origins of the Classical Guitar

A. The Roman Cithara

Around 40 AD, the Romans entered Hispania (modern day Spain). They introduced the Spaniards to an instrument called the cithara (sometimes spelled "kithara"). This instrument had a wooden sound box. The sound box or body consisted of two tables connected by ribs. The strings were stretched from a tuning bar to a bridge-like tailpiece on the body.

B. The Arab Lute

It is not known whether the early descendents of the guitar were invented by Romans or Arabs. The long necked lute was first produced in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq, northeastern Syria, and southeastern Turkey) around the 4th century BC. The lute is typically associated with the ancient Arab kingdom.

In the 8th century AD, the The Moors brought an instrument called the oud from Africa to Spain. The oud was a tear-shaped lute. It was flat in front and round on the back. Ouds were typically made with four strings and did not have frets.

C. Short Necked Lutes

The European "guitar" was classified with short neck lutes. Short necked lutes appeared centuries after long necked lutes. These instruments had gut frets that were tied to the neck. They either had flat or round, carved backs. The lute originally had four courses of strings. Courses were invented in the 14th century. A course is a pairing of two strings tuned in octaves.

D. The Vihuela

In Spain, an instrument called the vihuela replaced the once prominent lute.
The Spanish vihuela is the closest instrument to the modern classical guitar. This instrument was created in the fifteenth century during the Renaissance period. Some of its features include a smaller and thinner body in comparison to the modern guitar. The original vihuela featured four courses of strings. A fifth course was added in the 15th century. The 6th bass course was added later in this century. The third string was tuned to F#. For this reason, many Renaissance pieces arranged for classical guitar require the third string to be tuned to this pitch. The tuning of the first string varied from E up to an A depending upon the piece.

There are 8 books of music written for the vihuela. These are the first publications of guitar music.

1. Luis Milan – El Maestro (1536)
2. Luis de Narvaez – Los Seys Libros del Delphin (1538)
3. Alonso de Mudarra – Tres Libros de Musica en Cifra para Vihuela (1546)
4. Enrique de Valderrabano – Silva de Sirenas (1547)
5. Diego Pisador – Libro de Musica de Vihuela (1552)
6. Miguel de Fuenllana – Orphenica Lyra (1554)
7. Juan Bermudo – Declaracion de Instrumentos(1555)
8. Esteban Daya – El Parnaso (1576)

II. The Modern Classical Guitar

The first modern classical guitar was built in Italy around 1779. The body of this guitar was slightly smaller than guitars produced today. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the size of the body was increased to expand the volume range of the instrument. In addition, the bracing within the body was changed to the modern fan style.

III. Comparison with Steel String Guitars

There are many notable differences between classical guitars and steel string acoustic guitars. Classical guitars are strung with nylon strings. Most acoustic guitars are either strung with phosphor / bronze strings or steel strings. Nylon produces a softer, slightly more expressive tone compared to steel. Unlike steel strings, nylon strings do not feature a ball end that is held in place by a bridge pin. Instead, nylon strings are tied to the bridge. Also, the tuning keys face backwards on a classical guitar. On steel string acoustics and electrics, the tuners extend directly outward from the headstock. In terms of the neck, the classical neck is wider and does not taper. This will definitely take some getting used to if you are a traditional acoustic or electric player. Lastly, a pickguard is typically not installed on classical guitars. Nylon string guitars with pickguards are called Flamenco guitars. Rapid strumming and percussive sounds are important to the Flamenco style. Over time, these techniques eventually wear away the protective finish applied to the wood. The pickguard is glued to the top of the body to prevent damage to the finish and wood.

Preview of Next Lesson

The classical guitar is held in a different fashion from traditional acoustics and electric guitars. Danny will explain the proper way to hold the classical guitar in the following lesson.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Supplemental Learning Material



Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

MelucchoMeluccho replied

Are there Subtitles available on each Video?

MelucchoMeluccho replied

I mean English subtitles :)

devinmysykdevinmysyk replied

i love guitar and classical music. So i have not been playing classical to long. My idol is Randy Rhoads. if you know him, do you know what classical guitarist he might of listened to?

devon mccreadevon mccrea replied

if you want to become a good classical guitar player. Listen to Andres Segovia he was the one who really established what a great classical guitar player should sound like.

ShadowPizzaManShadowPizzaMan replied

If you guys want to hear some amazing players for classical guitar, look up David Russel, Sharon Isbin, and William Kanengiser. They are some of the best players out there.

Brig07Brig07 replied

I love the Flamenco and Classical guitar, they sound so distinguished and passionate

Brig07Brig07 replied

Thank you for having explained the main differences between acustic and classical guitars. I used to think they were exactly the same thing.

enf11enf11 replied

I love guiter

barryrbarryr replied

actually, found him

barryrbarryr replied

What happened to the lesson from Danny? Neither itn or his bio appears.

jnc51jnc51 replied

I'm starting the Classical Guitar. I still have a Steel String Acoustic but for some fingerstyle playing I want to get into the Nylon Classical

devon mccreadevon mccrea replied

Get a nylon string guitar before you start learning classical guitar. If you try to learn classical on a steel string you will develop bad habits and not to mention you might damage your nails practicing some skills. Learn other guitar styles before classical if you do not have a nylon string guitar. You are going backwards instead of forwards if you try to learn on a steel.

evilhedgehogevilhedgehog replied

looking good, can't wait for more! :)

cstelmacstelma replied

Thank you for adding the classical guitar genre!!!!!

Classical Guitar

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

The origins of the classical guitar date back to the fifteenth century. The vihuela, lute, and baroque guitar are the early predecessors of the guitar. With its origins reaching deep into the past, the classical guitar repertoire spans over five hundred years worth of material. Danny Voris explains the techniques necessary to mastering this timeless art form.

Overview of the Classical GuitarLesson 1

Overview of the Classical Guitar

Danny provides an overview of the topics that will be discussed in this lesson set. He also explains the origin of the classical guitar.

Length: 5:57 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Preparing to Play the Classical GuitarLesson 2

Preparing to Play the Classical Guitar

In this lesson, Danny covers proper posture and how to hold the classical guitar. He also explains how to shape the nails in order to produce the best tone possible.

Length: 19:44 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Installing Nylon StringsLesson 3

Installing Nylon Strings

Danny demonstrates how to install nylon strings on a classical guitar.

Length: 12:58 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Left Hand TechniqueLesson 4

Left Hand Technique

Danny covers the basics of left hand techniques for classical guitar.

Length: 20:19 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Finger Independence Lesson 5

Finger Independence

For lesson five, Danny discusses left hand finger independence. He also discusses hammer-on and pull-off technique.

Length: 17:06 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Right Hand TechniqueLesson 6

Right Hand Technique

In lesson 6, Danny discusses and demonstrates right hand technique for the classical style.

Length: 24:26 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
ArpeggiosLesson 7


Lesson 7 is all about arpeggios. Danny provides discussion and exercises designed to build your right hand skills.

Length: 8:43 Difficulty: 1.5 FREE
The Importance of ScalesLesson 8

The Importance of Scales

Lesson 8 covers scale exercises in the classical format. Danny provides a few patterns that focus on finger independence and position shifts.

Length: 6:26 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Renaissance PeriodLesson 9

Renaissance Period

In lesson 9, Danny begins discussion of the five different musical periods of classical guitar music. He starts with the Renaissance.

Length: 40:19 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Robert Johnson's AlmanLesson 10

Robert Johnson's Alman

In lesson 10, Danny takes a more in depth look at a Robert Johnson's "Alman." This lesson contains a detailed explanation of fingering.

Length: 27:36 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Behind the Scenes with Danny VorisLesson 11

Behind the Scenes with Danny Voris

Danny Voris discusses the major music periods and the advent of tonality.

Length: 7:19 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Baroque PeriodLesson 12

Baroque Period

Danny discusses and demonstrates a piece from the Baroque period.

Length: 22:17 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Classical PeriodLesson 13

Classical Period

In lesson 13, Danny discusses the Classical period of music.

Length: 20:53 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Romantic PeriodLesson 14

Romantic Period

In lesson 14, Danny discusses the Romantic period of music. He demonstrates a famous piece from this period commonly referred to as "Romance."

Length: 21:11 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
The 20th CenturyLesson 15

The 20th Century

In this lesson, Danny discusses the 20th century influence on classical guitar.

Length: 22:43 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Danny Voris

About Danny Voris View Full Biography

A unique guitarist in the region, Wright State alumnus Danny Voris, musically fulfills audiences with a mixture of exciting guitar playing and talented compositional skills. After graduating WSU in 1989, Danny obtained a teaching position at Sinclair Community College. In the fall of 2000, Danny obtained a scholarship to the graduate program at The University of Akron. After graduating the University of Akron in 2002 with a Master’s degree in Classical Guitar Performance, Danny returned to Dayton. There he began teaching at Jim McCutcheon Music Studios and at The Miami Valley School in Kettering, Ohio.

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