Great Classical Exercises

Acoustic Guitar Solo Fingerstyle Basics

by Gary Lee Joyner

Elementary classical guitar exercises have much to offer contemporary fingerstyle guitarists. They provide an opportunity to practice reading standard notation, they’re fun to play, and they’re good for developing skills. You can use them to work on hand and finger independence, bass lines, intervals, voicings, and melodies.

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Here are some selections from Mauro Giuliani’s popular 120 Daily Guitar Studies for the Right Hand. This series uses the same C–G7 chord progression throughout the exercises. As you play through each measure, hold the entire chord down as you would when playing a contemporary folk-style pattern. Play the notes with downward-pointing stems with your right thumb.

In Example 1, your right-hand index and middle fingers pluck the first and second string, while your thumb moves across the fifth, fourth, and third strings. Everything is played on the beat. Be sure to include the D note on the third fret of the second string in the G7 chord fingering. Work for a smooth right-hand motion and even tone and volume. As always, play slowly until you get it down.

Examples 2 and 3 break the notes into triplet arpeggios. A handy way to count triplets is 1-pa-let, 2-pa-let, 3-pa-let, 4-pa-let. This helps you keep your place in the measure as you count. Example 3 reverses the order of the index- and middle-finger notes.

Excerpted from Solo Fingerstyle Basics

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