First Steps with "Malagueña" (Spanish Classical Guitar)

Lesson #503 • Jul 22, 2023

In this week’s lesson I’ll teach how to get started with Malagueña, the traditional Spanish classical guitar tune. Even if you don’t know this song by name, I would bet you find it recognizable when listening — as it just oozes with Spanish flamenco vibes.

In my video lesson I’ll show you two ways to play the main melody. First, I’ll teach it using strings 2-4, which uses notes you’re already used to fretting while playing the familiar E major and A minor chords. Then, I’ll show you the same melody played an octave lower — which gives a deep & rich bass sound.

Finally, I’ll demonstrate how you can adding the droning high E-string (played after each melody note). While this a bit difficult to learn at first, it’s worth practicing — as it evokes those Spanish guitar flavors and sounds great. Let’s get to it!

  • 0:00 Lesson Summary
  • 1:45 Melody on thinner strings
  • 4:17 Melody on thicker strings
  • 7:30 With droning E-string (thinner)
  • 11:36 With droning E-string (thicker)

Instructional PDF 1 page

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Follow along with the print-friendly PDF!

It includes all of my notes for this lesson, allowing you to follow along at your own pace. You're free to download, print, and share the PDF across your devices.

To download the PDF, upgrade to premium or log in.

Lesson Discussion

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Extended Video Lessons

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Melody Notes on Strings 2-3-4

I recommend starting with this, since it requires the least movement (and stretching) from your fretting hand. It’s also much more approachable when adding the droning high E string, in my opinion.

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Melody Notes on Strings 5-6

This one is a bit trickier to learn, since you need to extend your fretting-hand fingers to the 4th fret. But it’s worth trying, as the bass sound it produces is quite deep and rich — especially when you end with the open 6th string (E). Note, adding the droning high E string can be tough! Make sure you keep your fretting hand arched, so it doesn’t accidentally mute the thinnest string.

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What Makes Malagueña Sound Spanish?

Here’s a great article on Malagueña’s history, with a helpful dive into the music theory (scales, modes, etc). This also includes several famous recordings of Malagueña from different artists. Recommend for sure!


Keith Richards on Learning the Malagueña


Lick N’ Riff Teaches Malagueña

This is the best lesson on this song I’ve found! Very good overview, starting simple and diving deep.

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