The Rest Stroke
Up to now, most of what we have covered could be played with a pick, but we will
be studying arpeggios that are much easier to play with the fingers. For the single-note
melodies that follow, a pick could be used, but now is a good moment to learn the
principal stroke used for melody lines on the finger-style and classical guitar,
known as the rest stroke.
The rest stroke is the technique that produces the fullest sound from a single
note. It is played by plucking the string in such a way that, when the movement
is completed, the fingertip comes to rest on the adjacent string—hence the name.
Here are the steps:
- The fingertip is placed on the string in preparation.
- As the nail passes the string it catches and sounds the note.
- The fingertip ends the movement on the next string.
- It is most important to keep the finger slightly curved—do not let the joint
yield as the nail plays the note, because this will weaken your attack.
The rest stroke
The rest stroke is quite a subtle movement, because small adjustments can mean
a considerable improvement in tone quality. It is fun to experiment with this, and
good habits developed at this stage will ensure maximum progress. Take a look at
it now from another angle. This picture shows the nail sliding off the string at
a slight angle, with the finger slanted so as to engage the string with less-than-maximum
nail. This change in axis from a head-on approach softens the attack of the finger
to produce a more delicate sound.
The finger is angled to engage less of the nail.
Try these movements out now to see if you can produce a full and beautiful sound.
Remember that the state of the nail is important since rough areas will catch and
produce a grating sound.
Here are the main points to remember:
- Prepare to play by positioning the finger on the fingertip with the nail
projecting over the string.
- Press the string down slightly before playing.
- For a strong attack, play with more nail, i.e., with the center of the nail.
- For a subtler sound angle the nail and the stroke.