Flamenco Guitar Techniques: How to Play Tremolo

Learn how to play tremolo in this flamenco guitar lesson video from Howcast.


Hi. I'm Dan Garcia. I'm going to show you how to play tremolo, flamenco tremolo. This is a very attractive technique; it's one of those techniques that people ask you always, "How do you do that? It sounds like 2 or 3 guitars played at the same time." Yes, it's one of those techniques that actually sounds harder than it actually is. It's definitely not easy. You need to practice very carefully and with a lot of patience.

This is how it works: Basically, for every bass note I play, I'm going to play the string that's playing the melody. In this case, I was playing on the first string. I'm going to play 4 notes for every bass note. The way I'm going to play these 4 notes is with my index first, then A, then M, and then I again. That makes it a quintuplet. This is the flamenco tremolo. In classical guitar, you play tremolo, like plain 1/16 notes, which is 1, 2, 3, 4 notes per beat. A flamenco guitar adds one more note to the mix, so we have a quintuplet.

We play thumb, always first, then index. A, M, I. Thumb, I, M. The purpose of this technique is really to sustain a melody, to keep a melody on the top afloat. The problem with guitar is that the decay of a note is very quick. Sometimes, if we want to sustain a melody, it's really not possible. We play the note and it rapidly fades away. Violinists and other instrumentalists have ways of keeping a note afloat, with the bow and such. We really don't. The only way we can do it is repeating it. If we repeat it many, many times, very, very, fast, it gives us that sound or that illusion that the note is being held or almost bowed. Let's give it a try. Thumb.

That's how tremolo works. It's a technique that you have to practice very, very slow. Also, one of the common mistakes with tremolo when you practice tremolo is that if you try to go too fast too quick, what happens is that you lose the attack on the upper string. Make sure you play it with plenty of volume when you're going slow. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. You speed it up with that same volume. If you feel like you're really losing volume when you speed up, bring it down a notch. Keep working on it every day.

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