How to Use Tone, Expression & Dynamics in Fingerstyle Guitar

Learn how to use tone, expression and dynamics from guitarist Adam Smale in this online fingerstyle guitar lesson from Howcast.


I'd like to talk to you about some classical techniques. Being able to explore the classical realm is great to bring into your own playing. The whole thing about classical guitar playing is all about tone, expression, and dynamics.

Dynamics means loud and soft. So, traditionally, classical guitarists would play their guitar on the opposite leg, like this. Now, that feels odd to me, but I thought I would bring that up. You can try this if you'd like. It does help with your left hand, because it helps with your left hand position better, as well as your right hand in order to get good tone, how your fingers come across the strings. But myself, I still prefer this way of playing, and we'll just talk about those techniques.

Let's talk about tone. You definitely don't want to come underneath the string and play it like that. It's not a very appealing sound. You want to make sure your finger comes over the top of the string. Most of the motion that your finger's making is coming form the large knuckle here. [plucks guitar string] And you also want to, [plucks guitar string] almost as if you're pushing the string down, kind of, and you get a nice, round sound as opposed to a sharp sound.

So, once you get better at playing different chord progressions and stuff, you can add some expression to your playing. Expression can be many things. You can slow down, speed up a little bit, play louder and softer. So maybe something like [plays guitar] will bring some depth into your playing by playing expressively and using some dynamics.

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