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How To Play Flamenco Guitar – From the Flamenco Performer Who Has Taught Celebrities

Flamenco is a huge genre that takes a lifetime to master, but you can get started quickly

by Michael & Rafael

Rafael has taught and performed flamenco guitar for over 40 years, including many famous stars – from EOB (Radiohead) to Jack Peñate (recorded with Adele).

Tired of playing the same chords over and over?

A new course for flamenco guitar beginners. Join thousands of other students taught by Rafael Lloyd Iglesias.

Taught by a lifelong flamenco performer & teacher. Access now at $30 / month.

Learning Flamenco Guitar

Here's the deal: you want to learn flamenco guitar? 

- Flamenco guitar mostly relies on right hand techniques for different strums, known as rasgueos.

- There are many different genres or flamenco palos, with different moods – upbeat and happy, or sad, melacholic and reflective. Most people begin with learning the rumba, which is upbeat and fun at parties.

- But before you jump into it we recommend you take 10 minutes to learn how to sit, hold the guitar and place your fingers.

- Here's your deal to us: you spend ten minutes to learn these things correctly, and in return you'll improve faster, and avoid injuring yourself in future. And we'll show you how to play flamenco. Sound like a good deal? Great.

Getting Your Posture Right

We talk about flamenco guitar posture in detail here, but here's the condensed version:

Sit on a chair or stool and have the guitar at a 45-degree angle away from your body. Like this

You can sit with the guitar going across your leg (as in the shot above), or in the 'traditional posture'. Rafael plays in both. Review this article to see the difference.

Relaxing Your Left hand

You want your left hand to be at loose and relaxed as possible. Instead of your fingers hurting when you press down on the strings / fret, the aim of the game is to apply the least pressure possible. Imagine that you're lazy but very precise; that is how you want your left hand to be. Rafael explains below.

How To Play Flamenco Guitar: The Rumba

Below is the most basic rhythm (and perhaps the most famous) used in flamenco guitar: the rumba!

It requires a few separate steps from the hand:

- A down stroke with your thumb

- An up stroke with your thumb

- A 'golpe' (see here)

- Up with your index, down, then up

That's it – and loop it! You can use any chord you want for this, in the above Rafael uses the E chord.

How To Play Flamenco Guitar: the Buleria

The buleria is the style of flamenco that most guitarists want to learn: it's rapid, hard to stick in time with and super fun. Rafael plays one in the first video on this page.

Here's another one, feel the rhythm in it!

Buleria Golpe

But to do it you'll need to know how to do the 'golpe' – which Rafael looks at below (an excerpt from his online flamenco course).

Buleria Chords

And here are the chords used for the buleria (typically)

Rafael breaks this down slowly with the rhythm in his online course – to get a sense of it, here it is:

Rafael goes into more detail on hisonline course for guitarists – which you can check out here.

Tired of playing the same chords over and over?

A new course for flamenco guitar beginners. Join thousands of other students taught by Rafael Lloyd Iglesias.