Big hands and nylon string guitars

August 20th, 2012 11:13 pm

I recently began teaching a new student with really large hands. He came to his lesson with an electric guitar he recently purchased from a friend. Every time he tried to make a chord his left hand fingers would each cover two strings – whether he wanted to or not. It was impossible for him to precisely depress one string without hitting another.
So I let him try my nylon string guitar. Much better! Now he can precisely hit one string with his finger tip without muting or sounding any adjacent string.
Nylon string guitars which are usually classical guitars have, as a rule, much wider necks. A wider neck means wider string spacing making a less crowded situation for hands big and small. The neck on a classical guitar is flat across as opposed to having a radius. This also contributes to that wider feel.

Play “Romance”

February 14th, 2012 11:44 am

Romance or Romanza is to classical guitar what “Stairway to Heaven” is to classic rock or what “Autumn Leaves” is to jazz. It’s very recognizable and a lot of guitarists do it as their first classical piece.

“Romance” has two different sections. It starts out in E minor which has one sharp in the key signature. This is considered the easier part.The second section is in E major which has four sharps. Less use of open strings and more left hand stretches make this section more difficult.
Anyone using the tab to play this should refer to the corresponding notation above for suggested left hand fingering and where to bar. The “C” next to a roman numeral shows when and where to bar. For example, CVII means to bar your finger across the 7th fret. The dotted line that comes after shows how long to leave it there.
DC al fine means go back to the beginning (E minor section) and then end the piece when you get to the word “fine”.
The letters next to the notes indicate the right hand fingering. P = thumb, i = index, m = middle, and a = ring finger.
Maintain this pattern throughout the entire piece.
Click here to play “Romance”.

Fretboard or Neck Radius

January 9th, 2012 11:31 pm

Fretboard or neck radius refers to the arc of your guitar’s fretboard. With the exception of classical guitars, all acoustic and electric guitars have a slight curve going across the fretboard.

The middle of the neck being slightly higher helps out the weak spot in the middle of your finger when you barre.

Looking at the specs sheet for a guitar you might see Fretboard radius – 7.5″ or Neck radius – 12″

So how can a fretboard have a 7 1/2 or 12 inch radius when it’s clearly no more than 2 inches wide? Take any size circle and cut the width of your guitar neck out of the circumference. This gives you the slightly rounded fretboard. The larger the radius the less severe the arc.

Guitar radii range from 7 1/4 inch (vintage Fenders) to 16 inch (steel string acoustics). New Fenders have a 9 1/2 inch radius and Gibsons have 10 and 12 inch radii.

Some newer guitars have compound radii. This means it has a small radius at the nut and becomes flatter as it goes up the neck. One of the new strats has a 9 1/2 inch radius at the nut, 12 inch at the 12th fret and a 14 inch radius at the 15th fret.

I think it’s safe to say you get used to whatever neck radius you end up with.
A smaller radius makes it easier to make chords but tougher to bend strings without them choking out. That can be compensated for by setting the action slightly higher. So a guitar with a bigger radius allows you to keep the string action lower making string bending much easier.
Personally I’m a fan of the 10 inch radius on electrics and 16 inch on acoustics.

Play Rudolph (solo piece)

December 4th, 2011 6:44 pm

It’s 21 days until Christmas and holiday tunes are being requested. This week a student asked for a finger
style version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. This is not the easiest version but not too difficult for anyone willing to take the time and sit with it.
It is basically just the melody against a bass line that is mostly half notes. Enjoy!
Here ya go – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Silent Night

November 26th, 2011 7:00 pm

Ok. It’s Thanksgiving weekend and the holidays are here. So, I’m posting a fingerstyle version of Silent Night.
The arrangement is considered easy and is meant for beginning fingerstyle players.
There is actually two versions. The first one is just single melody notes against open string bass notes.
The second version includes a simple harmony line.
Have fun, take your time, and make it pretty!
Click here – Silent Night