Trémolo – getting started…

Some visitors have asked for material related to tremolo and practicing trémolo. This technique gives many guitar players problems, but it need not present problems if the right approach is taken to study. Before we begin, some basic terminology.

The terminology:

p = thumb
i = index
m = middle finger
a = ring finger

Now for the advice:

  1. Practice on one string only. Start with your B string. Do not start on your top E string, because later you will find it difficult to adapt to the smaller space that is offered by the second or third
  2. Do this all on your B: using pami (I play flamenco so I do piami)
  3. Plant each finger before release. In other words make contact with the string and then play the note. You should plant – play – relax and plant the second finger ready as you release the first note – and all in one continuous movement.
  4. Immediately after, bring the next finger onto the string. In this way you will be playing staccato – we will speed up later, but first get your fingers contacting the strings.
  5. Practice slowly. I mean r-e-a-l-l-y slowly. Using your metronome set it at 60bpm and play one note per beat.
  6. When you are comfortable with this, play the second string with your thumb, and return your humb to play the first string. Continue so that your thumb plays highE, B, highE, G, highE, D, highE, A, highE, E and then up wards. Do this really slowly ensuring that each and every note has the identical weight.

Getting faster with speed bursts

  1. Start again on the B string. Playing slowly (as above), play four rounds then double your speed for four, repeat. If you cannot so this, set you initial speed slower.
  2. Alternatively, you could just gradually get faster and faster.

Force your fingers to work independently:

  1. Try every variation of finger order possible: pami, pima, pmia, and so on…
  2. If you have problems with a flying index, practice the flamenco trémolo: piami and all the variations.

Increasing extensor strength – this helps returning to the string ready to play your note…

  1. I heard of people practicing with the backs of the nail…. I remember this reading a blog in which Stepan Rak had contributed.
  2. Practice rasgueados – a-m-i (down)-i(up)-a-m-i etc, but do this in 3/4 so that every finger has to take an accent.

And finally, Stepan Rak advocates practising using the little finger, giving it strength, thereby helping the anular…

One last word and perhaps the most important one – even weight and accentuation go far further in giving an impression of speed than does uneveness played fast. If you wish to listen excellent examples of trémolo you could not do better than to listen to some Manolo Sanlúcar and Gerardo Nuñez.

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