How do you know when to use the free stroke or the rest stroke when playing classical guitar? This table notes when you should choose to use the free stroke and when your better option is the rest stroke for your guitar playing.

Use the Free Stroke When You Play Use the Rest Stroke When You Play
Arpeggios Slower, more expressive melodies
Chords Scales, scale sequences, and single-note passages
Light-sounding melodies, or filler notes between melody and bass parts Loud notes, or notes requiring maximum volume or feeling of intensity
Melodies or passages where the rest stroke can’t be applied because of tempo considerations, string conflicts, or awkwardness and impracticalities in the right-hand fingering Passages that must be drawn out from their surroundings (either other notes from the guitar or in an ensemble setting), assuming no conflict with other strings