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The Rest Stroke
 

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

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.

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.

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