Classical Guitar

Classical Guitar Lessons, Interview, News, Tips & More

Classical Guitar

Latest Classical Guitar Blog Posts

Earlier today, GFA president Martha Masters sent out an email asking for some help. Dear GFA Members, In the past six months, GFA has begun dialogues with five school districts in Southern California about adding guitar programs throughout the district. These dialogues have all originated from personal connections with Superintendents, members of the Board of […]

Michael Karmon is a California-based composer who dedicates much of his output to the classical guitar. We sat down (virtually) for a little interview about his background, composition process, and new models for commissioning music. Tell us about your musical education and the path that led you to the guitar MK: I took the […]

Most musicians (myself included) spend way too much time thinking, fantasizing, and obsessing over their instruments. Whether the object of desire is a vintage specimen or the latest contemporary fad, I have noticed a tendency in my own thinking to anticipate all kinds of tonal, musical, and practical improvements with the acquisition of the next […]

Classical Guitar News

What is Classical Guitar?

Classical guitar is a six string chordophone. There’s a good chance you’re familiar with steel string or electric guitars. Classical guitar differs from its steel stringed cousins in a few key ways:

  • The strings on a classical guitar are nylon.
  • Classical guitarists play, for the most part, with their fingers — finger picking — rather than with a pick.

Despite the classical in the name, classical guitars don’t have to be used to play art (classical) music. All genres are performed on nylon string guitars, but this website is mostly focused on their use for art music.

The modern classical guitar’s lineage traces its origins back to 16th century Spain, where the classical guitar’s ancestor, the vihuela, was in use. Composers Luis de Milan and Luis de Narvaez (among others) composed for and performed on the instrument. In renaissance France, a four course guitar was in used by performers/composers Adrian le Roy and others.

During the Baroque era, a five course guitar emerged. Composers such as de Visee and Corbetta (both in France) and Sanz (in Spain) were actively performing and writing music for the instrument. Sometime in the time between the late baroque and early classical eras (late 18th century into early 19th century), a sixth course was added to the guitar.

19th century guitar virtuoso composers such as Fernando Sor and Dionisio Aguado performed on a guitar similar to the modern classical guitar but not quite the same. During the late 19th century a luthier by the name of Antonio Torres built what could be called the first modern classical guitars. In the 20th century guitar virtuoso Andres Segovia popularized the classical guitar for the general public. Other artists such as Julian Bream worked closely with modern composers on new works for Classical Guitar while Segovia stuck to a more traditional music track.

Today the classical guitar continues to enjoy popularity with the art music crowd. Guitarists from around the world, from metal heads to classically trained prodigies, flock to universities to study the instrument. This has led to many classical guitar festival and competitions along with new guitar departments at many colleges.