The classical guitar, sometimes referred to as the Spanish guitar, is an acoustic instrument which has nylon and metal wound nylon strings.
Essentially you play by plucking the strings to produce tunes.
It is not an instrument of great antiquity, the so-called classical guitar seen today only evolved towards its present form in the second half of the nineteenth century. The repertoire for the instrument was once considered quite limited, but the dedication of great guitarists in the twentieth century, such as Andres Segovia, Julian Bream and Leo Brouwer has ensured the scope available continues to expand and evolve.
The range of music available for classical guitar is now vast. There are arrangements for music which dates back many centuries to the latest twenty first century compositions. The classical guitarist may play the simplest of tunes,whilst some music is technically so difficult only a genuine virtuoso would dare to attempt it.
Perhaps the greatest strength of the classical guitar is the range of sounds a skilled player can produce through the instrument. It has been likened to an artist’s pallette through which a vast range of colours can be mixed and produced.
Anyone wanting to play classical guitar should be prepared to learn how to read music, it is still possible to play without good sight reading skills, but, in my opinion, it limits the range of music the student can attempt. Furthermore, good sight reading skills give scope to compare different editions of the same piece of music, and I am often surprised by the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) differences that can be found.
“Classical guitar” is perhaps best viewed as an approach to guitar playing, with its own conventions and characteristics; it is a living and evolving instrumental style which is open to considerable interpretation and schools of thought. Every player has the scope to put their individual stamp upon any piece of music they seek to interpret.
In my view, learning the classical guitar develops a musical understanding and sense of precision in playing which benefits any guitarist with a willingness to study the instrument seriously and persevere for a period of time.
Some guitarists may eventually decide they want to focus primarily on other playing styles which fall outside the so-called “classical genre” but the skills techniques and discipline developed through the classical guitar will not be lost and continue to be of immense help.