Fernando Sor’s guitar technique: a good analysis by Rob MacKillop

“Sor played without nails. He generally used only the thumb, index and middle fingers.”

I think that the blog of Rob MacKillop is inspiring and very useful.

His research on the guitar technique is very interesting, especially regarding the use of the right hand: as I have got to write, Rob plays guitar without using fingernails of his right hand, with extremely charming results.

Today I want to share with you a brief but interesting article written by Rob in 2008, about the guitar technique of Fernando Sor:

Sor’s Method, published when he was 52 years old, presents the mature reflections of a successful, internationally respected musician. 
It contains as much text as music, and speaks with an assured voice.

Obviously MacKillop also focuses on the right hand technique of Sor:

It is in the use of the right hand that Sor distances himself from most of the players of the day, a fact which he was conscious of. 
He shared the same hotel in Paris as his compatriot, Dionisio Aguado, a nail player who could dispatch lightening-fast single-line runs, which Sor could not.

Sor played without nails. He generally used only the thumb, index and middle
fingers. He sometimes placed his little finger on the soundboard.


He never uses the right hand for damping the strings, favouring the left hand


He sometimes plucks the strings nearer to the fretboard in order to imitate the harp, and sometimes places his left hand fingers half-way between frets, producing a deliberate buzzing sound in imitation of the trumpet.

Never in my life have I heard a guitarist whose playing was supportable, if he played with the nails. The nails can produce but very few gradations in the quality of the sound: the piano passage can never be singing, nor the fortes sufficiently full. (F. Sor)

Therefore I strongly recommend you read the full article, available in PDF on Rob’s site, at this address: