Have come to realize that no matter how careful and sharp I try to finger-pick the guitar using my right hand (keeping the chord-shapes pressed with left hand to play Arpeggios or melody in general), at anything over say (roughly) 100bpm, the notes have hardly any sustain and almost instantaneous decay. This gives a very "muted" sound to the notes, instead of the distinctive acoustic guitar twang.

  • Is the above observation a shortcoming of my technique and insufficiency of training (and of course experience) ?
  • Are there some techniques to improve the clarity and ring of the notes in such cases ?

Please note that the style of finger-picking I've practised and learnt involves 50:50 combination of flesh and nail of the index, middle and ring fingers, instead of purely picked using nails.

  • 1
    Practice more and practice more slowly. Aug 21, 2018 at 2:40
  • Looks like the answer to all of my miseries (with learning guitar) are "very very slow", while I'm in a great hurry to prove to myself that I can do it, and stay motivated. Thanks @ToddWilcox, for your insightful contributions.
    – bdutta74
    Aug 22, 2018 at 9:05

2 Answers 2


Basically, the comment by Todd Wilcox sums it all up (although I'll put it the other way around): Practice more slowly, and practices more. So yes, it's a shortcoming in your technique and/or insufficient training.

The good news is that you will improve if you just keep practicing.

Pick up a copy of Mauro Giuliani's 120 right hand studies, and start studying. Start at a pace at which you can make all notes sound clean, clear and evenly. Then start putting the accent in the arpeggios on a different notes to increase control of your fingers. Only then increase the pace slowly.

They're not the most entertaining exercises in the world, but they will help.

  • Thanks Willem, appreciate the answer. Yes -- agreeably, the answer to every question I ask seem to be "very very slow" :-) and I cannot but agree that I do seem to forget that, more often than not. As noted in my comment to ggcg's answer, I am learning on acoustic steel-string (although I do have a Nylon string Classical guitar) as per my teacher's instructions. Moreover, I choose to ignore what seemed to be much harder western classical notation using staff, clefs, bars. Without those, I suppose Mauro Guilliani's exercise can't be benefited from.
    – bdutta74
    Aug 22, 2018 at 9:03
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    Well, technically, you don't need the book: The exercises basically feature every possible arpeggio combination (between p-i-m-a (thumb to ring finger)) to arpeggiate over an open C and open G7 chord, with twists added as you progress to the book. So it's not that hard to invent your own collection of exercises. The convenience of the book is more that (a) you don't have to invent them yourself, (b) you can easily keep track of combinations practiced, and (c) it's quite exhaustive: Giuliani was quite thorough in writing down variations that wouldn't quickly come to mind. Aug 22, 2018 at 9:12
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    if you look at this free pdf, you only have to remember that for all exercises, the first bar is an open C, and the second bar is een open G7. The plucking finger indication is provided by p-i-m-a: The thumb, index, middle, and ringfinger respectively. That's all you need to get going :) Aug 22, 2018 at 9:16
  • I would like to add that Pepe Romero reprinted much of Guilliani's exercises in one of his books. There, he changed some of the exercises to E7 --> A to relieve stress on the index finger.
    – user50691
    Aug 22, 2018 at 10:57

There is some missing information in your question. You say 100bpm but you don't say if you are playing quarter, eighth, sixteenth, triplets, etc. You can't leave it to us to guess.

I can say that people do play very fast using classical (and bluegrass, etc) finger style. You need to train your right hand to attack perfectly every time. It's a long process. You will find that one day you can play 1/16 notes at 100bpm but it falls apart at 110bpm, months later you'll be fine at 120pbm and fall apart at 130bpm. Practice not only more slowly, but very slowly, e.g. one note per beat at 60bpm. Pay attention to what your fingers are doing when they have nothing to do! That is part of the training. I recommend using the planting technique, get the correct finger to the string it will pluck, long before it needs to pluck it. Once this is in your muscle memory you'll get clean speed. In addition to Giuliani's book I'd recommend

Guglielmo Papararo, La Technica Degli Arpeggi per chitarra classica.

This has just about every combination of right hand fingerings in triplets, quads, sextuplets, etc. Giuliani has you holding chords (which you need to do) while these exercises are done on open strings allowing you to focus your mind on the right hand alone.

  • Thanks @ggcg. Does these technique (in the books recommended) apply even if one is not following a Classical Guitar curriculum ? Add to it the fact that I cannot read music in the Classical Western notation -- only the neophyte tabs and chords-by-alphabets mechanism. So the pieces I am learning, have tabs along-side the Classical Western notation (staff, cleff, bar...). I suppose without being able read notation, those books wouldn't be usable. Any chance anyone has translated those books into instructions using tabs ?
    – bdutta74
    Aug 22, 2018 at 8:55
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    Yes, they should offer some help. They are exercises designed to isolate right hand movement. As for "reading", there isn't much to read as 80% of them are open string. Classical notation also indicates string number in a circle for each string, so it's a little like tab. The book I mention does NOT offer instruction on proper hand posture etc, or practice habits. You may want to follow the advice of others on that front as well. Take it slow, every movement should be intentional. "Planting" is a techniques that works for speed picking as well.
    – user50691
    Aug 22, 2018 at 10:54

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