Now that you have learned the right hand position for the classical guitar, lets put it to use.


To start off with, lets set up our fingers into the default position with the P on the 4th string (D), i on the 3rds string (G), m on the 2nd string (B) and a on the 1st string (E).


Without doing anything with the left hand we are going to play an arpeggio on the open strings. With your right hand in place, release your thumb and fingers in this order:


p – i – m – a


As you play each string let it ring so after you have played all four strings you can hear them all sounding at the same time. The four notes sounding after you have played the strings form a chord (which is and E minor 7th chord if you happen to be interested) which you arpeggiated. Instead of playing the notes of the chord all at the same time, an arpeggio breaks up the chord so that the notes appear in sequence. It doesn’t matter what sequence the notes appear in, it is still an arpeggio if you break the chord up note by note.


To play two arpeggios in a row, you are going to need to reset the hand and prepare the fingers to play again. To do this, place the fingers and thumb back in the default position all at the same time. If you don’t replace all of the fingers at the same time then some notes will still sound while some are silenced and it will sound a bit messy. Replacing the fingers serves two purposes; it both silences the strings and prepares the fingers to play once more. Both actions will become a big part of your playing. For instance, in a technique called ‘bass stopping’ you will place your thumb on a string only to silence it but not to play it. And, in a technique called ‘preparation’ you will place fingers on the string before it needs to be played so that it is fast and accurate.


Lets try two arpeggios in a row, with right hand preparation in between each arpeggio.


Step 1: play p – i – m – a from the default position

Step 2: replace all the fingers and the thumb on their strings in the default position, silencing the notes

Step 3: starting once again from the prepared default position play p – i – m – a


These three steps (or really just the first two in alternation) allow a constant stream of notes to form a flowing arpeggio, which is a common technique in classical guitar music. Don’t worry if there is a bit of a pause when you prepare your left hand in step 2. Over time you will become faster and more fluid in this motion.


In right hand arpeggios 1 for the classical guitar, we looked at playing an arpeggio going from low to high strings with the right hand fingering

p – i – m – a.

Playing the arpeggio in reverse – a – m – i – p requires some different movements and is often a little more challenging for the beginner. With the p – i – m – a  arpeggio, we could prepare our hand by replacing all fingers and the thumb on their repective strings to play the arpeggio. However, when playing a – m – I – p the fingers don’t get a chance to prepare on the string they are about to play making the accuracy and speed of the arpeggio that little bit more challenging.

Taking it to the next level: preparation for the right hand.