Practicing Scales: Varying the Tone Colour - Daniel Nistico

Lesson Overview:  Practicing Scales: Varying the Tone Colour

Lesson tips:

  • Scales can used as tools for practicing musical tools such as articulation, dynamics and tone colour.
  • In the 19th century, guitarists were using five different plucking regions, rather than just three (ponticello, normal and tasto.)
  • 19th century guitarists were changing tone colour from measure to measure (see Sidney Pratten’s ‘Guitar School’)
  • Adding changes of colour just takes a conscious decision

Delivered by: Daniel Nistico

Suitable for:   Guitarists of all levels who wishes to gain new expressive tools in their playing.


5) Tone Colour
Now we will draw information from Sidney Pratten’s wonderful Guitar School (London, c. 1859).
Sidney Pratten provides a diagram of the guitar’s plucking region (page 44), indicating five different places to pluck that are marked as such:
Example A - Very close to the bridge: “When a hard or powerful tone is required on the silver (bass) strings particularly for a single bass note. Also for imitating horns or bugles, on the gut (treble) strings.”
Example B - Near the bridge (ponticello): “Hard, crisp tone is produced at this part. For forte and double forte.”
Example C - Halfway between the bridge and the soundhole: “Round, full tone. For general playing.”
Example D - At the soundhole: “Mellow and harp-like tone. For Dolce or soft tone.”
Example E - At the fretboard (tasto): “For soft and delicate passage to be struck gently. For pianissimo.”
(Note the link between tone colour and dynamics.)




For more technique guidance from Daniel


If you're looking for a refreshing alternative to Segovia's Diatonic Major and Minor Scales, then these scales provide the answer.

Mertz's scales do not traverse as many octaves as Segovia's, so they are great material for beginner level, as well as advanced level guitarists.
If you're worried that learning these scales will be too difficult, a link is provided in the preface to videos of the scales being played 10 times. In those videos I reveal one of the practice methods I have used for
improving my speed in playing scales.
The book also comes with an appendix that shows you some in-depth methods for practicing scales. These methods will enhance many areas of your playing, not just speed!

You can also purchase Daniel's Major and Minor Scales eBook here

Daniel Nistico is available for private guitar instruction in Melbourne.

Please call him on 0455 274 744 for more information and to arrange a free trial lesson, or
Click here for information on Daniel's Skype lessons



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