The flamenco thumb is the most important digit to control. Some players (though rather limited players) limit nearly all their playing to rasgueado and thumb. One such is the marvelous Antonio de Rosa. You will need to learn to play on one string, and this is addressed in the “alzapúa” section, as well as crossing the strings in an up and down direction.

pdf file Download the first tablature file thumb string crossings.

pdf file pulgar-string-crossing

When using your thumb bear the following things in mind-

  • Play apoyando (unless you are playing some types of arpeggios or tremolo).
  • Play into the guitar, allowing the string to ride from the fleshy side of your thumb over the nail.
  • It is possible to achieve a more brilliant tone by using your nail in a more perpendicular position. However, this may increase the movement you need to get to the next note, so bear this in mind.
  • Practise slowly and deliberately – speed comes of its own accord.

Alternating index and thumb

One very important flamenco technique is to alternate the thumb with the index finger. Here are two exercises to practise this technique that can be quite impressive as it sounds like you are playing many more notes than you really are.

Here is a sample:

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JPEG file download tab: thumb and index finger.

pdf file Download the tab: thumb and index finger with double thumb strokes.


  1. JAssie
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Hi miguel i have a question to ask while using thumb and index finger should i play apoyando for both ?

  2. Posted July 14, 2008 at 10:56 am | Permalink


    You would probably find it a lot easier if you played tirando with the index and apoyando with your thumb.


  3. miguelbengoa
    Posted July 6, 2011 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    This is a very good question to which I have put a lot of thought. The truth is is that there is no one correct answer. To follow one instruction such as planting or to rigidly stick to one posture can be counter productive in the long run. There is no “correct” way to do things. What is correct for one person may not be correct for others.

    Learning how the body works and how to use the body most efficiently is a very good way to start. There are some very good guides. One of these is “The Biomechanics of Guitar Playing” by Dr. Joaquin Farias. There is also a similar book specifically for the flamenco guitar by the same author but it is older and not as developed as the one mentioned here. They are inexpensive and I would recommend buying both.

    Another book that is well worth reading and following is: “What every musician needs to know about the body“. This is a body mapping course developed by Barbara Conable from Andover Educators.

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