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Intro to Spanish Guitar

The World of the Nylon Six-String

Some of the world’s most beautiful and exciting music has been composed for and played on the Spanish guitar. Although it may not be as popular as many other forms of music today, it has always maintained a passionate and loyal fan base around the world and has influenced most other genres of music from country to metal. Today, we will give you a history of the Spanish guitar and the fundamentals of its sound and its performance.

What is Spanish Guitar?

Spanish guitar is actually synonymous with classical guitar but is so named because of its roots of manufacture and early use in Spain. It is not only used to describe its origins and style but the design of the guitar as well.

The backs and sides of most Spanish guitar bodies are constructed of rosewood or maple for resonance and durability. The soundboard is often made from spruce, rosewood, or cedar because of their resonance.

The look, feel, and sound of an acoustic guitar are quite different from those of steel stringed guitars. Classical guitars are typically considerably smaller with wider necks. Strings are commonly made from nylon with a fine wire wrap around the bass strings. Nylon strings are much softer and gentler on the fingertips than steel strings. They also have a much lighter and quieter sound.


The Spanish guitar as we know it today was developed in the late 19th century. It has its roots in ancient times when numerous guitar-like stringed instruments were developed and played. Their shape is based on designs of early romantic guitars from France and Italy.

Works composed directly for guitar made their first appearance in the late 1700s, although they were derivative of compositions for other instruments. Spanish guitar music came into its own in the late 19th century. Francisco Tarrega (1852-1909) was considered the father of modern classical guitar. Andres Segovia (1893-1987) was the most popular classical guitarist of the modern era.

Playing Technique

Spanish guitar is typically played while seated with the guitar on the lap and one foot placed on a footstool. It is played with the thumb plucking from the top of a string downwards (downstroke) and the other fingers plucking from the bottom of string upwards (upstroke). A pick is never used. The fingers are always in contact with the strings.

As with most other musical instruments, you can self-teach with the help of videos and books, but this is not recommended for Spanish guitar. This is a highly-stylized and specialized genre and needs more finessing than other styles of guitar playing do. It is highly recommended that you get one-on-one lessons with an instructor who is proficient in playing Spanish guitar.

Spanish guitar can be much harder to play well than other genres of guitar, but if you are persistent, work hard, and keep your attitude up, you can become quite good at it.

Give It a Try

Mastering Spanish guitar can be an extremely rewarding experience. Check out your local guitar shop to see what is available.

Phone Glenn Sutton at: 619-306-3664.

Services include:

  • Acoustic Guitar Lessons
  • Electric Guitar Lessons
  • Bass Guitar Instruction
  • Classical Guitar
  • Spanish Guitar
  • Learning to Write Music
  • Advanced Improv Techniques
  • Performance Techniques
  • TABS or sheet music



  • Rock
  • Classic
  • Folk
  • Jazz
  • Improv
  • Blues
  • R&B/funk
  • Metal


  • Rancho Bernardo
  • San Diego
  • Poway
  • Rancho Penasquitos
  • 4S Ranch