Playing Classical Guitar in Free Stroke versus Rest Stroke

By Jon Chappell, Mark Phillips

Part of Classical Guitar For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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