Tambour (guitar technique)

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Tambour (also called tambor, tamboro or tambora, written in music as tamb.), is a technique used in Flamenco guitar and classical guitar which is designed to emulate the sound of a heartbeat. It is achieved by using a flat part of the hand, usually the side of the outstretched right thumb, or also the edge of the palm below the little finger, and sounding the strings by striking them rapidly just inside the bridge of the guitar. Durations from a single articulation to an extended drum roll tremolo are possible with this technique. If performed incorrectly, the effect is similar to a right-hand apagado, or dampening of the strings.[1][2]

An example of tambour in popular music can be heard at the beginning of the second verse of "Your Time Is Gonna Come" by Led Zeppelin.

One of the most remarkable modern compositions for the guitar, Sonata op.47, by Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera, was inspired by the folk music of Indians and Argentinean Gauchos and uses a lot of effects typical of the guitar, such as tamboro.[3]

Both tambour and pizzicato can be heard in Aconquija by Barrios.


  1. Stretch out the thumb
  2. Rotate hand and wrist rapidly, causing the side of the thumb to strike the strings.

Variation in tone can be achieved by striking different distances from the bridge and using different parts of the thumb (especially fleshy vs. bony parts).

Variation in chord texture can be achieved by selecting different strings to strike.


  1. ^ Guitar Technique Encyclopedia. p. 56. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Composer's Desk Reference for the Classic Guitar. p. 56. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Annala, Hannu. Handbook of Guitar and Lute Composers. p. 77. Retrieved 15 July 2014.