I'm a passable electric guitarist of many years.

People are often thrusting accoustic guitars at me and saying, dude you know loads of songs.. I've seen your band! I say.. yes it is true, my part to Rio by Duran Duran sounds mind blowing... with the rest of the band, and my full pedalboard... but it sounds like this on your battered old ovation....

While thrusting the guitar back at them I mumble that in fact electric and accoustic guitars are different instruments, and disciplines... But I just come off whack, and eyes glaze over.

So.. recently I bought a beautiful Ibanez nylon string accoustic and I need a party piece... Can anyone recommend a song, or piece that will showcase the beauty of nylon strings?

I mean in my imagination I'll belt out the best version of Danza Del Altiplano ever.. and hand back the guitar to the now dumbfounded entertainment freeloader as if it was nothing.. But in reality.. sensible recommendations please.. :)


I would actually recommend you Danza del Altiplano! Why are you objecting about it? :—) It's not really that hard. (And I mean it, from looking at the score, it should be quite easy — if you don't mind some left-hand work (legatos and such), but I guess you could be used to that from the soloing at the electric?)

Some more pieces I would recommend (and some of my first too):

  • Try to search for La Tempestad from Juan Serrano. It's a super easy flamenco piece, but it will blow everyone's mind. (There is a lot of chord strumming in it, intermixed with short melodic passages. Also a very basic usage of percussion (hitting the body of the guitar with your thumb), easy to do but awesome sounding.)
  • If you would go for something more classical, maybe you could try Prelude no. 1 from Heitor Villa-Lobos? Most of the time you're just playing on open strings and moving one finger around; though it gradually lets a little bit trickier (but not too much). The open strings contribute a big lot of volume and you will sound like 2 guitars at once while not having to break a sweat.
  • To impress some more romantically-based friends, you could try Tarrega's Lagrima. A simple but beautiful piece. Or have a look at his other preludes, they're all awesome (but some of them will be harder than Lagrima).
  • I'll probably think up some more... I'll just need to remember what I was playing these 7 years ago.

And I should add some more notes about that:

  • It's definitely not the most basic stuff you could find — not by a long shot. When I started with the classical, I had already a good grasp of the instrument; but you do have too, so they could work.
  • I don't say you won't struggle with them, but hey, how can you get better without struggling? And they all sound awesome.
  • Perhaps most importantly, I silently imply that you are willing to read score. (Though you can certainly get a tab for Lagrima and maybe for the Prelude too.) If you can't read score, you could consider trying to learn it — it's not too hard and it's definitely worth it (since it opens up a lot of possible ways to become a better musician). And the people here will surely help you if you have trouble with it.
  • Very thorough.. thank you. Yes I did start to learn Danza.. and yes my left hand is satriani shred legato seasoned.. but my right hand has the same utility as a pirates hook. For that reason I'm currently practicing samba rhumba strumming with the aim of eventually doing Bamboleo, which if I can remember the Basque Spanish would be a show stopper. I'll investigate your reccomendations, you sound like you understand my requirements perfectly. – Richard Aug 2 '18 at 18:19
  • Flamenco rhumba strumming obvs – Richard Aug 2 '18 at 18:27
  • @Richard, you're welcome. Just remember to take it easy, you don't need to play it at a supersonic speed like some people on YT do. If there is anything you can't go through, just take it slow and it will fit in eventually. – Ramillies Aug 2 '18 at 19:05
  • It's the palm slap in rhumba strumming that I'm struggling with ATM. I can't seem to recover from it fast enough. I know it must be that my hand is too high, but no matter what I do there's a noticeable delay before the upstroke. The finger flick (Rasgueo) seemed to come naturally. I'm currently at half speed and occasionally get confused about where I am in the strumming pattern. But at least Bamboleo doesn't have finger style.. which is alien to me and should be what I focus on. I can do a passable Greensleeves because it's essentially only thumb and index finger. Django minor swing? – Richard Aug 2 '18 at 23:31
  • Actually I tried minor swing but it needs Stephan Grapelli and a drummer to fill the gaps. Shame really.. I love the piece. – Richard Aug 3 '18 at 0:16

Here are some references that come from the top of my mind, in pretty different styles. There is absolutely NO order in this list.

And since you say you have an old battered Ovation, i'll allow myself to leave some acoustic references too down below.


  • Bach's Cello suites (adapted for guitar, of course). The first movements are accessible to the majority. Difficulty is progressively increasing. Probably an excellent starting point, and mind blowingly beautiful!
  • Gardian Angel by John McLaughlin. There exist 2 versions:
    • The studio one (on Electric Dreams album): extremely beautiful if you like the genre. Excellent to pratice positions, wrist agility and finger style picking. It is tricky but doable.
    • The extended version (on Friday Night in S. Franscisco among others) where you'll find master improvisation by John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola and Paco De Lucia. The rythm section only should be an incredible source of inspiration, just like this whome album, actually.
  • If you're in for it, you'll probably be able to adapt most of the songs of Bob Dylan (adapt, transform, revamp... you decide).
  • Private Investigation by Dire Straits seems to be a pretty good option. I mean, we all love that nylon guitar melody, do we? Sounds accessible. Will have a devastating effects on those who listen.
  • I don't know much about Jango Reinhardt, but I would sure love to know more about him if I had an nylon string guitar in my hand.
  • There is this guy on YouTube called Yoni Shlezinger. He's doing a lot of finger style cover, many of which is probably super doable on nylon.
  • Many songs off the album Grace Land by Paul Simon sound super awesome on a nylon guitar. Some have actually been revamped by P. Simon himself on a nylon.
  • If you've got the fingers for it, go for some flamenco. I mean there must be some accessible tunes, although Paco De Lucia seems pretty completely out of reach to me...
  • If you have a french audiance, go for Georges Brassens. Classic, classy, fun, funny, and probably much more of a challenge then what people think.
  • Any bossa nova idea? I don't know any thing in this genre...


These are all mind blowing artist with devastatingly beautiful accoustic songs. Many are accessible, much are known and loved by most. Chances are you'll make a strick on those.

  • Neil Young
  • CSNY
  • Bob Dylan
  • Dave Matthews
  • Brook Miller (she is sadly unknown, but she is amaisingly talented)
  • Tracy Chapman
  • John Mayer
  • Led Zeppelin (they have probably as many accoustic songs then they have classic rock)
  • Tommy Emmanuel (it would not be fair if I didn't mention him. There must be some songs, ideas, licks you can get from this amaising artist)
  • Thanks.. that's a great reply. I wanted originally to learn Bamboleo by the Gypsy Kings, but the flamenco rhumba strumming pattern is just develishly difficult to master.. I'm sticking with it, and that is my current number one. I like the idea of Bach, there are some cantata's that might be good to do if they're simple enough, I'm no classical guitarist. – Richard Aug 2 '18 at 14:23
  • By the way, thanks for introducing me to Tommy Emmanuel. I'm awestruck. – Richard Aug 2 '18 at 14:33
  • By the way, thanks for introducing me to Tommy Emmanuel. I'm awestruck. – Richard Aug 2 '18 at 14:33
  • I'm so happy I shared this with you! Isn't he amaising? You may want to check out some interviews he did, or his TED talk. He also seems to be super nice guy! – avi.elkharrat Aug 3 '18 at 9:44

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