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Huskyman 12-24-2020 06:18 PM

Classical Guitar Questions
 
So after years of playing a steel string I decided to try something new and give me fingers a break and I bought a Cordoba Crossover guitar and I intended to use it for fingerstyle. It sounds great and I like the more mellow tone but I wanted to so some songs that I typically use a flatpick for and I was too lazy to get my steel string so I tried out a few songs using a thin flatpick and they sounded great. I don't know if this makes sense but it also seems this guitar suits my voice better if that is musically possible? I know pretty much nothing about nylon string guitars so is it considered "bad" or wrong to use a thin flatpick if someone wanted too? I know there is no pickguard but I was paying attention and my pick never touches the body. I guess that is not the same for Willie Nelson though. So what are thoughts about using a pick on a nylon string? Could it harm the guitar at all? Thoughts?

Thanks.

Carey 12-24-2020 07:37 PM

Sounds like it's working great for you- go for it. If you want historical backing,
the medieval lutenists played with a pick/quill.. maybe there's a Crawford Young video somewhere. That guy can bring it!

And John McLaughlin (sp?).

charles Tauber 12-24-2020 07:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Carey (Post 6585042)
If you want historical backing,
the medieval lutenists played with a pick/quill..

Renaissance and baroque lutenists plucked strings with bare fingers, as did early guitarists.

If a pick on nylon gives you the feel and sound you want, there is nothing stopping you from doing that.

ObiWanSymbian 12-27-2020 02:25 AM

Congratulations on the discovery!

I've made it about a week ago. I was in the market for an acoustic to accompany my underdeveloped singing, but I find pick+nylon playing so satisfying, I'm no longer considering an acoustic.

The classical guitar has sooo much to offer in terms of tonal palette.
So much of this depends on our technique, ofc, but our nails shape, thickness and shape play an even greater role than in terms of steel strings.

And as per your and mine discovery - a lot of great tone can be produced with an appropriate plectrum.

Enjoy it, as I'm enjoying my classical.

NormanKliman 12-27-2020 12:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Huskyman (Post 6585006)
...is it considered "bad" or wrong to use a thin flatpick if someone wanted too?

Pecatti capitali if you’re trying to play “classical” or flamenco, but I’m guessing you’re not. You’ll get a lot more out of the instrument with your fingers, though.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Huskyman (Post 6585006)
...Could it harm the guitar at all?

You’ll probably end up scratching the top if you play without a pickguard. The kind that you see on flamenco guitars, usually clear plastic, isn’t expensive (10-20 bucks) and it's easy to apply it yourself.

Dak 12-28-2020 09:31 AM

I play a nylon string with a pick, having similarly switched from acoustic a few years ago.
Decades ago, I tried to play strict classical guitar for a couple years but had endless problems with thin, weak fingernails, finally giving up on it altogether.

I disagree about fingerpicking a nylon string with no nails. I can't stand the sound. Even fingerpicking with good nails often sounds limp and quiet if you don't learn to pick hard and use mostly rest strokes. A flat pick on a nylon string guitar gives you more than enough potential picking power, so no excuse for a weak tone.

You won't damage your top with proper pick control. I got some good advice years ago and learned to anchor my pick hand at almost all times with my pinky. Really vigorous playing, like hard strumming folk, rock, or blues with lots of bending, is sort of an off-menu use of a nylon sting guitar. It has a unique sound for those, but you have to deal with buzz/slap issues and be willing to burn through strings. The wound ones just aren't made for that kind of stress.

Much more difficult to play multiple voice stuff by bouncing back and forth across several strings with a pick, and often nearly impossible to play simultaneous notes as written for classical guitar. Right now, I'm stretching my limits learning Paganini's 24th Caprice, from the violin sheet music. I expect that I will eventually be able to play the theme plus 7 of the 11 variations, including one that is all sliding octaves, but the other 4 look impossible. Most classical pieces that aren't exercises in technical extremism for solo cello or violin should be totally playable on guitar with a flatpick.

My ultimate solution for the multiple voice limitations of flatpicked guitar was to take up playing the piano.

ObiWanSymbian 12-28-2020 11:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dak (Post 6587993)
I play a nylon string with a pick, having similarly switched from acoustic a few years ago.
Decades ago, I tried to play strict classical guitar for a couple years but had endless problems with thin, weak fingernails, finally giving up on it altogether.

I disagree about fingerpicking a nylon string with no nails. I can't stand the sound. Even fingerpicking with good nails often sounds limp and quiet if you don't learn to pick hard and use mostly rest strokes. A flat pick on a nylon string guitar gives you more than enough potential picking power, so no excuse for a weak tone.

You won't damage your top with proper pick control. I got some good advice years ago and learned to anchor my pick hand at almost all times with my pinky. Really vigorous playing, like hard strumming folk, rock, or blues with lots of bending, is sort of an off-menu use of a nylon sting guitar. It has a unique sound for those, but you have to deal with buzz/slap issues and be willing to burn through strings. The wound ones just aren't made for that kind of stress.

Much more difficult to play multiple voice stuff by bouncing back and forth across several strings with a pick, and often nearly impossible to play simultaneous notes as written for classical guitar. Right now, I'm stretching my limits learning Paganini's 24th Caprice, from the violin sheet music. I expect that I will eventually be able to play the theme plus 7 of the 11 variations, including one that is all sliding octaves, but the other 4 look impossible. Most classical pieces that aren't exercises in technical extremism for solo cello or violin should be totally playable on guitar with a flatpick.

My ultimate solution for the multiple voice limitations of flatpicked guitar was to take up playing the piano.

I agree with most of your points.
Especially the one on intolerably low quality of nylon sound when picked with flesh.
Too bad many sellers present their instruments like this.

As for accompanying my vocals and playing two or more lines AlaskanPiks that I use for classical playing are just fine.

The Caprice... Iím with you. 7 variations are doable. To an extent. Remaining 4 require you to sell your soul. And one may not suffice;)

Dak 12-28-2020 12:17 PM

Yeah, I can tell just by looking over those variations that if they aren't impossible, they are definitely not worth the effort. I'd rather save it for an attempt at a movement from a Bach cello suite or violin partita/sonata.

I didn't know about Alaska Piks. I tried a few different plastic and metal fingerpicks designed mostly for banjos a while back, but didn't like any of them.

I'm pretty satisfied with the limitations of playing with a flat pick.
I mostly play by ear, mostly melodies, and I tend to invent my own pieces/improvisations based on imitating fragments of things I hear - sometimes even tv show themes. I'm not trying to become a performer, just explore music for my own enjoyment.

The best thing I did in years was take up the piano. It has helped me learn theory, ear, improv, and multiple voices far beyond what I would have just playing guitar. At this point, if I had to only play one instrument for the rest of my life, I'd choose the piano.

starchase 01-05-2021 10:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Huskyman (Post 6585006)
So what are thoughts about using a pick on a nylon string?

Thanks.

Ian Anderson made much success with the concept, ie., Look Into the Sun and Reasons for Waiting, and especially Thick as a Brick. I'd love to know how he creates such a cool musicallity with that guitar!!!
John :D

Cincy2 01-06-2021 05:57 AM

"Even fingerpicking with good nails often sounds limp and quiet if you don't learn to pick hard and use mostly rest strokes."

Modern classical guitars with lattice bracing or wood / kevlar double tops don't have this problem. My classical holds its own very nicely with my steel string instruments when both are played finger style with nails. I would encourage the OP to try a few. Some luthiers are able to create a traditional warm sound using these techniques, some can't. Try before you buy.

Cincy

Rapido Eduwardo 01-10-2021 11:56 PM

I am trying to get away from using acrylic nails. I have been using glue dots as adhesive - and it works. But I just got a little weary of doing that so I am now going without the acrylic nails. It is (so far) a really great experience. I have a little bit of fingernail so strictly speaking I am still using nails. I like the sound I get and don't miss the hassle of keeping up with glue dots, alcohol, etc..

Dak 01-14-2021 08:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cincy2 (Post 6596890)
"Even fingerpicking with good nails often sounds limp and quiet if you don't learn to pick hard and use mostly rest strokes."

Modern classical guitars with lattice bracing or wood / kevlar double tops don't have this problem. My classical holds its own very nicely with my steel string instruments when both are played finger style with nails. I would encourage the OP to try a few. Some luthiers are able to create a traditional warm sound using these techniques, some can't. Try before you buy.

Cincy

I looked into lattice bracing. Pretty interesting, but does the volume/brightness make up for playing without nails? Is it available in affordable guitars?

The OP is someone who is just starting on nylon and specified no nails. They probably don't want to spend $2000+ to start. I have played for years, and plan on decades more and I'll probably never spend that much.

Also, this person is at a beginning point where they could just develop a vigorous picking technique that will work on any guitar in the first place, as opposed to playing softly and being forced to buy special expensive guitars to accomodate that technique choice.

gmr 01-17-2021 07:31 PM

Using a pick on nylon seems to have worked out pretty well for Willie Nelson.

pf400 01-18-2021 09:08 AM

I hardly ever play my nylon string Yamaha unplugged. Through the amp I get great tones with 1 mm picks or even thicker, or with my acrylic nails. No sign of wear on the Yamaha, but my Martin steel string is showing wear on inner edge of the rosette. Both are about 10 years old.

MC5C 01-18-2021 12:59 PM

Tommy Tedesco, LA studio great and member of the Wrecking Crew, famously played all of his classical guitar pieces with a pick. Wrote about it in his column in Guitar Player magazine. Famous also for one time the conductor kept asking him to play different instruments that a studio guitar player was expected to have on hand - called for balalaika, mandolin, etc, Tommy ducked down under the divider, resurfaced, and played the new instrument. Totally different sounds. The guy next to him cracked up, because all Tommy had was a classical guitar...


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