In Fingerstyle, the guitarist brings three musical elements into the performance using only one instrument: melody chords, melody notes base notes and we see in this video, Alexandr Misko taps along with the melody. These different styles would normally be played by different band members but is standard for classical guitars.
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The nylon string acoustic guitar is referred to as the Classical guitar and has a mellow sound. Guitarists pluck the strings with fingertips or fingernails. Plucking the string in different positions emit different tones from a single note making the instrument versatile.
Playing the Nylon vs Steel Strings
The acoustic guitar differs from a steel string acoustic guitar as the steel string is usually played with a pick and can mostly be heard in country and folk music (Fingerstyle Guitar). Because it has a bright loud sound the steel string is used in rock music also. That is the general inkling but you are not limited to playing any music style on any guitar. To further compare, the steel guitar has more strumming so you may even get away with slouching. As well,there is a tendency to harmonize. Not so with the classical guitar which is more technical and somewhat regimented because you are mostly playing from sheet music where the fingers work independently.
Neither the nylon or the steel string guitar need amps. The box or sound chamber resonates and amplifies the vibration of the strings attached to the sound board.
Fingerstyle vs Fingerpicking
Homespun Music, the world’s largest catalog of music lessons distinguishes between the two stating that “fingerstyle” is playing the acoustic guitar without a flatpick, using your fingers to pluck and strum the strings. They acknowledge that “fingerpicking” means many things to different people but that it is generally defined as an alternating thumb, two- or three-finger style (Homespun). A wikipedia reference further explains that the thumb keeps rhythm, playing “alternating bass” patterns on the lower three strings, while the index, or index and middle fingers pick out melody and fill-in notes on the high strings.
A Giant Surge in Fingerstyle Guitar
Musicians worldwide have been playing this style guitar for years as handed down from previous generations. Their origins are many, including England, Africa, Italy, Mexico, United Kingdom and so on. But, according to ³Mark Humphrey in Fingerstyle Guitar Journal, the years spanning the 1960s to the 1990s saw an “extraordinary level of expressive” skilled guitarists bringing Fingerstyle into the spotlight. Not that lack of skills inhibited the style. Poet, Richard Barnfield, a contemporary and associate of Shakespeare referred to lutanist, John Dowland (1562 to 1626) as him “whose heavenly touch/Upon the lute doth ravish human sense.”
The difference seemed to be that the late 1960s was the Golden Album Era when the music industry surpassed Hollywood. A media came into existence by which record companies unleashed music in abundance to the masses.
Losing Themselves in the Music
On the leading edge were artists like Steve Howe energizing listeners with his ‘progressive rock fingerations (“Fingerstyle Guitar”). His virtuoso was off the chain. He contended that *there isn’t very much music that you can’t play on one guitar. That it doesn’t restrict you, but in fact, allows you to play kinds of music that you couldn’t do with a group. Yet, he apparently adapted styles conducive to playing within a group as he did go on to join Asia, GTR, then ex-Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett.
Others among the many guitarist creating ⁵”dazzling patterns of sound from a single guitar” was Perppino D’Agostino, according to Derk Richardson. Richardson who was magazine editor with Acoustic Guitar magazine from 2003 to 2007. Perppino was already a successful music artist, referring to his music as “minestrone music” by the time he came to the USA in the 1980s to add his flavor of Fingerstyle guitar.
A Look at Finger Style with Keb Mo a.k.a. Kevin Moore
Moore’s bio on Homespun where he is a music instructor notes that he is a Grammy winning blues and pop performer, using acoustic and electric guitars for his contemporary music compositions (Homespun). He is also an actor appearing in many films. In this brief demonstration he shows some Fingerstyle playing and in the second video is a live performance in France, but where he switched to the electric guitar.
Notice that Keb started out playing Fingerstyle then in the last demonstration he wore finger picks for the Fingerpicking portion of the instruction. Notice the bright sounds versus the softer sounds of Fingerstyle. Either way, there is no strumming as we normally see those on the steel string or electric guitars.
Here, Keb is now playing electric showing the flexibility of an artists who wants to play both types of guitars. Keep in mind that the acoustic allows much of the artist’s individual style because you are plucking individual strings in a particular manner and not just strumming across them all.
What it comes down to is that the guitar an artist chooses allows their highest music expression. Which means it’s reasonably comfortable porting it about allowing you to get an additional play or practice time; you like the appearance (style, color, etc.) and you like the sound (electric, steel or nylon).
How do you know if the classical (nylon string) guitar is for you?
Buy a classical guitar if:
- you are very much into classical music as you will practice more when you play music you like
- the higher standard of specific finger technique appeals to you
- you lean more towards fingerstyle than strumming
- you like the artistic expression capabilities
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- Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (Alexandr Misko) (Fingerstyle Guitar), Alexandr Misko, 25 Nov. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jx4okVd3K14&index=2&list=LLj3OmaqQG8Mw3rtByX74sbQ&t=0s.
- “Fingerstyle Guitar.” Wikipedia, Wikipedia, 2009, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fingerstyle_guitar.
- Humphrey, Mark. “Fingerstyle Guitar NEW DIMENSIONS & EXPLORATIONS VOLUME THREE.” Fingerstyle Guitar, 2013, pp. 1–38., www.fingerstyleguitar.com/.
- “Fingerstyle Guitar.” Homespun Music Instructions, Homespun, 2018, http://www.homespun.com/fingerstyle-guitar/.
- “Fingerstyle Guitar.” Homespun Music Instructions, Homespun, 2018, http://www.homespun.com/ fingerpicking/.
- Kevin Moore. “Exploring the Guitar with Keb’ Mo’.” Fingerstyle Guitar, Homespun Music Instructions, 2018, www.homespun.com/instructors/keb-mo/.