I started to learn Flamenco guitar and I have a question about Picado technique. If I start from 6 string (high E pitch) play descending C major scale I play m(G),i(F),m(E open string) now I need to move to 5 string should I need to start with i finger or m?


  • 1
    Strings are counted the opposite way - the fat E is called the 6th string.
    – Tim
    Dec 6, 2020 at 14:59

3 Answers 3


To make it more clear, we're discussing these two options:

  1. Change finger on every note no matter what
  2. Only change finger when that helps avoid movement (but not when the just-used finger already falls readily on the next string)

I think option 1. is far more common amongst flamenco players – but I don't really know.

What I do know is that both techniques are common with E-bass players. They call the 2. technique raking.

Of course bass tends to be not as breathtakingly fast as flamenco guitar, but the technique is actually almost the same as guitar apoyando / specifically the more perpendicular-angle picado, and because the plucking requires a bit more way and force, economy is just as important.

Whilst many bassists stick to the strictly alternating pattern, I think it's safe to say that raking is the more efficient, faster technique. And yes, it can be blisteringly fast even on bass, especially when using three instead of two fingers.

So, is it a good idea to use raking on flamenco guitar too? I don't know, but I daresay it's a good idea to give it a try.


The specific technique you are practicing is meant to strictly alternate but that does not mean that this is the only technique worth learning. Picado is strict alternate picking. Anchoring is used in this technique too, but imo this is not necessary. By anchoring I mean supporting the right hand by placing the thumb or free fingers on an adjacent string.

Though not strictly Flamenco, Parkening and Segovia have exercises for developing alternate fingering that use every combination of fingers. The Segovia scales in all keys are meant to be played i-m, m-i, a-i, i-a, m-a, a-m, i-m-a-m, p-i, i-p, p-m, m-p, p-a, and a-p, each pattern used for ascending and descending, each done tirando and apoyando. Parkening has several chromatic exercises in his beginner book that follow similar approach to developing right hand technique.

If you are resting the fingers on the adjacent string it is natural to want to use it, like economy picking, but as Parkening points out in his book you are not supposed to "rest", you are supposed to bounce you finger off the next string slightly (my interpretation of his description) thus preparing it to move again. This is sort of like Buddy Rich drum stick technique, or Jun Fan boxing, you move your body back to the original position as fast as possible after the attack.


The whole point of picado is alternating fingers. So, whichever one you used last, you use the other next. Changing strings is no different. It may well be that you use a rest stroke, which puts the just-used finger on the next string, when playing descending scales, but use the other finger instead - and don't use rest strokes! At least if that's what is messing up your playing. They can be, and are used, but that will come later in your playing experience.

  • What about i-m-a-m ?
    – user50691
    Dec 6, 2020 at 21:26
  • @ggcg that seems a bit pointless since the bottleneck will be the middle finger, having just as much work to do as in i-m-i-m. Dec 7, 2020 at 0:26
  • Not true at all
    – user50691
    Dec 7, 2020 at 2:19

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