How to Play Rasgueados: the Basics

I frequently talk about using rasgueados off of the guitar as an exercise to build strength and dexterity in the hands. In this video and post, I’d like to talk about rasgueado technique and show you a few of the most common rasgueados.

Long Ball: a Game of Patience

Rasgueados take time. You can learn basic rasgueado technique fairly quickly. I hope you get the basic just by watching this video and reading this post.

However to become really smooth and even and fast with your rasgueados, is simply going to take some time and practice.

I recommend putting them into your technical practice every day for just a few minutes. Over time, they will get faster and more well defined.

At first, many people’s rasgueado technique sounds a bit “mushy”.  There is a lot of sound, but without order, structure, and organization. When you practice rasgueado technique deliberately, you will start to hear each individual stroke.

It is an amazing effect, and one that Spanish flamenco players have perfected to a high art.

What is a Rasgueado?

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

Rasgueado (also called Rageo (spelled so or Rajeo), Rasgueo or Rasgeo in Andalusian dialect and Flamenco jargon, or even occasionally Rasgueado) is a guitar finger strumming technique commonly associated with flamenco guitar music. It is also used in classical and other fingerstyle guitar picking techniques. The rasgueado is executed using the fingers of the strumming hand in rhythmically precise, and often rapid, strumming patterns. The important characteristic of this strumming style is the fingernail (outer) side of the finger tips (as opposed to their fleshy inner side) is also used, and in such case, in reverse of the way it is done when the fleshy side of the finger tips is used, namely downward (index, middle, ring and little finger) and upward (thumb).

Rasgueados as exercise

Apart from being an impressive guitar technique, rasgueados are also an amazing workout for the hands.

You can do them with both hands on your legs, chest, steering wheel, or anywhere else.

They are great way to keep in shape while traveling, or when you are unable to practice. And if you get into the habit of doing them regularly, your hand strength and overall guitar abilities will skyrocket.

For more on using rasgueados as exercise, visit this post.

Rasgueados covered in this video:

(Reminder:A = ring finger, M = middle finger, I = pointer finger, P = thumb, and C = little finger)

Additional tips

1. When practicing and playing rasgueados, and working on your rasgueado technique, play close attention to the way that your fingers extend.  Often, one finger will try to “follow” another finger out.  This makes it so that you then have to pull that finger back before extending it through the strings, which slows you down.

2. Go slow and master the motions one at a time.

3. Keep a steady rhythm at all times.  Using a metronome is a great idea with this and most all technique practice.

4. Remember, you don’t have to strike through every string.  When your fingers extend, they create an arc.  They may strike two, three, four or more strings.  If you want to strike more strings, simply move your hand closer to the strings, and you will.  If you try to strum through all the strings with each finger, it will be difficult to build speed and proper rasgueado technique.

Allen Mathews

Hi, I’m Allen Mathews. 

I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.
Click here for a sample formula.

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