Classical Guitar

Classical Guitar Lessons, Interview, News, Tips & More

  • [CD Review] Connie Sheu: The Woman’s Voice

    Through the history of Western Classical music women have been dramatically underrepresented: consider that the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra has only been integrated from a gender standpoint for a whopping fifteen years. As far as composers go, historical surveys generally include but a handful—usually starting with Hildegard, maybe Barbara Strozzi, then skipping to Fanny Mendelssohn and […]

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  • 2012 GFA Competition Winners

    The Guitar Foundation of America convention, along with its international and youth competitions, just concluded last weekend. 2012 International Competition Winners First Place: Rovshan Mamedkuliev (Russia) Second Place: Celil Kaya (Turkey) Third Place: Silviu Ciulei (Romania/USA) Fourth Place: Ivan Sanchez Flores (Mexico) Watch Winner Rovshan Mamedkuliev Play Youth Competition Winners — Junior Division First Prize: […]

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  • Jason Vieaux on his New Online Classical Guitar School

    Last week, Jason Vieaux and Artist Works launched a new course for classical guitarists. It’s a video lesson platform and you can check it out here. I was able to ask Jason a few questions about his new online lesson series. Before we get to that, however, Jason was kind enough to give ClassicalGuitar.org readers […]

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  • Texas Guitar Quartet Album Review: “Red”

    A few months ago the Texas Guitar Quartet — Isaac Bustos, Jonathan Dotson, Alejandro Montiel, and Joseph Williams — launched a Kickstarter campaign to finance their debut recording. I received the album for which I pledged in mid-March, and after a bout of repeated listens I knew I had to review it. The reasons are […]

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  • 2012 Parkening International Guitar Competition Winners

    The Parkening Competition isn’t really your average guitar competition. First off, the prizes are large. Second, the screening process is intense. The competition took place May 30 – June 2, 2012 in Malibu, California. International Competition Winners First Place: Petrit Ceku Second Place: Rafael Aguirre Third Place: Florian Larousse Fourth Place: Solomon Silber Fifth Place: […]

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  • A Visit to Greg Byers’ Workshop

    As you cross from Sonoma into Mendocino County, the landscape goes through an almost instantaneous kind of change. The terrain becomes rougher, the hills more stark, with clusters of Serpentine rocks piercing the ground. The grey sky above and the almost complete lack of traffic were the perfect complement to my morning drive. I was […]

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Latest Classical Guitar Blog Posts

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. CG.org: 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.