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I have been learning guitar (using a pick) for 4 years, I play only a few chords and a minor scale. I have a metal string guitar, but I'd like to play Flamenco style.

  1. Is it possible for me learn Flamenco on a metal string guitar?
  2. Will playing Flamenco on a steel string guitar "sound right"?
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BTW, you have to forget striker/pluctrum/pick. Flamenco is played with fingers. –  Chiron May 6 '11 at 22:27
    
This question is very similar to Skills needed for classical guitar. (It's not a duplicate, I think.) –  neilfein May 6 '11 at 23:08
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@Neil I don't think so, Flamenco guitar and classical guitar are so different. Majority of Flamenco guitar right hand techniques don't ever exist in classical guitar. –  Chiron May 6 '11 at 23:16

4 Answers 4

Playing Flamenco style on a steel string guitar will be rather painful I am afraid. Also, you will be getting an overly bright sound, and it won't sound anything like traditional Flamenco playing, which is nearly always played on a nylon string guitar.

With this style of playing, there are a lot of subtle things you have to know, much like classical guitar, so I would highly recommend that you do at least a few lessons with a good flamenco teacher so that you can get important things such as posture, left hand positioning and proper right hand technique down pat before you embark on some self learning.

Also perhaps you could pick up a decent, cheap nylon string guitar at a pawn shop or second hand dealer to experiment with this style?

Good luck with it!

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I've had good results with Thomastik Nickel Flats and short round nails. By varying the mount of nail involved in the attack I can get an appoyando that's almost a pure sine wave; and an enganchando with a selection of higher harmonics (by varying the location on the string - dark and sweet at the neck, bright and punchy at the bridge). Drink whole-milk lattès for your nails! –  luser droog Oct 7 '11 at 0:46

I agree. "Flamenco" is a very specific style of guitar which incorporates many techniques that are specific to the nylon-string classical guitar. Or more specifically, the Flamenco guitar which is slightly different. Flamenco guitars traditionally have the clear-plastic "golpeador" or tap-plate on the front so you can do the percussive effects without damaging the top. Also, these guitars are frequently topped with cedar rather than spruce for a lighter and more responsive instrument. Also traditional are friction tuners, but almost no one uses these any more.

Flamenco is primarily a dance-accompaniment style, with solo passages.

There is a great deal of Latin music which is Flamenco influenced, and that may be more what you are interested in....

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I believe you have it backwards, Flamenco players usually use the brighter (both in tone and wood color) spruce tops to the darker red (and darker toned) cedar that most classical players use. –  crasic May 13 '11 at 10:00
    
Yes, it's spruce for flamenco guitar, not cedar. Furthermore the traditional wood for the back and sides of a flamenco guitar is cypress, whereas on a classical guitar, it is mahogany or rosewood. –  Wheat Williams Jun 23 '12 at 18:59

Don't ever play Flamenco on metal string guitar, you will break your nails. Not to mention you aren't going to sound Flamenco any way.
Rasgueados and Alzapua are all about hitting the strings with your nails. Flamenco playing is so demanding on the right hand and takes a lot of time and efforts to develop decent techniques, you have to pay special attentions to palos and the compas.
Flamenco is all about the rhythm.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palo_(flamenco)
http://www.compas-flamenco.com/en/palos.html

One famous book is Juan Martin 'El Arte Flamenco De La Guitarra', avaliable in English too.

My personal recommendation is to get a teacher, Flamenco is really hard to get and grasp not to mention it is really easy develop bad habits and miss the whole palos & compas thing.

To conclude:

  1. Get a teacher.
  2. Get the suggested book above.
  3. Live and breath Flamenco palos and compas.
  4. Be extremely patience.
  5. Practice, practice, practice.

Flamenco is a unique world, live it to the max.
(On November 16, 2010, UNESCO declared Flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.)

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Even though it wouldn't sound at all like flamenco, rasgueados is the only way you can achieve fast triolet rythms without a pick. I know that's not the topic of the question, but with proper nail care and technique, rasgueados doesn't hurt at all on metal strings and can allow one to play all type of rock and metal rythms without having to use a pick. I know I do. And it allows your right hand to be fully free from a pick, hence go from picking to multifinger-tapping in one shot. –  Chipsgoumerde Mar 22 '13 at 11:33

Another factor is that, compared to the classical guitar and the flamenco guitar, the typical steel-string acoustic guitar has a very narrow string spacing, at the nut, at the bridge, and everywhere inbetween. This narrow string spacing is not sufficient to play the left-hand fingerings required of classical or flamenco guitar, and is not sufficient to enable your right-hand fingers to pluck the strings finger-style using the techniques that flamenco requires.

In short, a steel-string acoustic guitar is designed for an entirely different musical purpose, style of playing, and style of music than that of a classical or flamenco guitar. So if you want to play flamenco, you need a flamenco guitar, or for starters, a classical guitar.

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