Stroke angle on the strings with proper wrist position

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...

Stroke angle on the strings with proper wrist position

Post by Albert » Sun Aug 27, 2017 7:42 am

Brand new at this and I spent most of the day working on my right hand and wrist position. It seems that if you let your right arm fall naturally and let the fingers move naturally (like making a fist) - the angle stroking the strings will not be perpendicular.

I found that when I tried to make it perpendicular I bent my wrist and not long after experienced pain. Once I realized the angle was not perpendicular the pain went away because it was more natural. ( I found out that my wrist was bent by video recording my playing.)

It feels a bit strange crossing the strings at an angle but it seems better ergonomically. If this is correct than others may avoid pain or injury with proper positioning.

I hope this helps others just starting out like me.

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Re: Stroke angle on the strings with proper wrist position

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Sun Aug 27, 2017 11:35 am

Avoiding terms like proper and correct, cos its all good just a matter of what we do with it ...

... you will probably find you are best off with your right arm resting on the guitar about where the bridge would extend to if it were long enough, bring your fingers to the strings about where they go over the rosette (the pattern round the soundhole) and give your wrist a slight lift so the fingers can work at each joint. Then aim each finger stroke in towards your elbow, roughly 45 degrees to the string. If you experiment with dropping the hand as you did before you should find both the tone goes thin, the wrist gets stressed, and the stroke is less stuck on the string and more of a glide. In other words there is a similarity of interest in the better (normal) tone, the most relaxation and the easiest stroke. This is especially the case with nails.

Everything in this game takes getting used to, its one of the things that makes it a 'classical' instrument, where we tend to use consciously developed techniques, rather than a folk instrument, where one tends to go with natural tendencies.
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Re: Stroke angle on the strings with proper wrist position

Post by Albert » Mon Aug 28, 2017 7:41 am

Hi, Stephen and thanks so much for your reply. I will take your admonition to heart :).

45 degrees to the string is very helpful and clarifying. Also enjoyed your comments regarding "classical" vs "folk." My thinking is changing day by day as I transition from one to the other. My instrument changed as well as I traded in the acoustic I had for a classical (C5). It is quite a different experience.

Have a great week and thanks again.

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Re: Stroke angle on the strings with proper wrist position

Post by tormodg » Mon Aug 28, 2017 8:12 am

Here is a blog post with a video which might be helpful: ... ae3a736909

With the position explained by Stephen above, I find that a slight anticlockwise twist of the forearm (ie, lift the side of your hand away from the strings so the thumb gets a little bit closer) gives me slightly more control and a more pronounced and warmer sound. This is explained by Hubert Käppel in his book "The Bible of classical guitar technique" which is mentioned in the video above.
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Re: Stroke angle on the strings with proper wrist position

Post by ronjazz » Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:14 pm

It may also help to think of the fingnail as a "bow" like a violin bow, and drawing it across the sign until it releases will produce a round, warm sound. That's why the angle makes a better sound.
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