I see most classical/flamenco guitar players use fingers IM instead (rest stroke or picado). Coming from an electric guitar background, I find the rest stroke technique extremely uncomfortable.

Is it possible to achieve great speed playing with thumb/index instead of index/middle (rest stroke)? Are there any examples in acoustic guitar?

  • Since the thumb is often used for "bass" accompaniment, while at the same time I and/or M are used, I'm not sure how you would want to use PI instead of IM.
    – user18490
    Oct 26, 2017 at 4:02
  • 2
    Why do you refer to rest stroke? IM(A) are also used in free stroke, not specifically in rest stroke. Perhaps it helps to indicate what (part of a) piece(s) you're thinking of or are trying to play.
    – user18490
    Oct 26, 2017 at 4:05

1 Answer 1


The rest stroke has nothing to do with thumb or any fingers any more than free stroke, so is irrelevant. But - it's much more difficult to achieve, especially for beginners, so isn't so commonly used.

If the thumb made for faster, better playing, players would be using it more. Fingers actually are better for this - all in the same plane, and physically more similar than the thumb.

Thumb, in classical playing, being more fleshy, produces a softer sound, and thus is often used for the accompanying bass line or arpeggiated chords, usually on the lower strings.

Having said all that, using apoyando, or rest stroke, surely won't work on fast passages, as there's literally no time to rest. So, do away with that for now, try to use much less thumb - that'll set you up for later stuff - and get used to using at least I and M, and certainly introduce A into the party. It might just help to consider the classical guitar as different in many aspects from the electric, and indeed, the acoustic guitar. As one probably would considering a bass guitar, for example.

  • I was taught to use rest strokes for fast passages and indeed my rest strokes are faster than my free strokes. I imagine this comes down to personal preference and how one practices.
    – bfootdav
    Oct 27, 2017 at 19:45
  • It does a bit, @bfootdav, however it is fastest to have your fingers free, for fairly obvious reasons.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Oct 28, 2017 at 21:41
  • What are those obvious reasons? As explained to me with a rest stroke you make one movement to pluck (your finger is then stopped by the next string) and then a second to pluck again. Two moments of effort. With a free stroke you pluck, have to stop the motion of your finger and then pluck again. The idea being that less energy is expended with a rest stroke allowing for faster playing. In the end I don't know if/how such a thing could be measured. A brief search on the internet shows the split in opinion exists.
    – bfootdav
    Oct 29, 2017 at 17:28

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