Learn to play Carnatic Indian Classical on Guitar (Acoustic / Electric)

This used to be a product details page, selling video tutorials for Raga and Indian Film Song Technique on Guitar.

But since I started uploading unrestricted tutorial and how-to videos at youtube.com/themusicianself, the products were made available on the youtube channel for free.

Instead now you have another option. A task you could do with the following three videos.

Please see the below 3 videos. See if they are too easy for you or too difficult or something in between. Then, use the contact form below the videos to let me know your doubts, observations, problems etc. I will reply to you and help you on your path to being a better musician. Thanks.

beginner 2 string scale: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FSFBrQYtTI

C major to mayamalavagowla: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UM2VEeCUAKU

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httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4isrZ-m_XJw In the above video, watch Indian Classical song Alaipayuthey played on an Acoustic guitar, without any effects or edits, as recorded on a point and shoot camera using the camera mic.

Want to play Carnatic on the guitar but can’t find something easy enough to start with? Don’t know where to start? The finger and hand movements on the Carnatic guitar videos you see are too fast to follow? Need something simple enough to understand? We will be playing Carnatic on a standard tuned guitar – acoustic guitar will do.

Hand and finger movements to play Indian classical on the guitar

The video below shows an adaptation of Thillana in Dhanshri on the guitar. Playing this song on the guitar involves a mix of vertical and horizontal movements on the fretboard, little finger usage, hammer ons, pull offs and slides. (See below for the link to buy detailed instruction videos for this Thillana) httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSBagEsVlq4 To play carnatic on the guitar, you want to learn the basic hand and finger movements associated with Carnatic playing. The different kinds of slurs and hammer on pull-offs along with slides give the carnatic sound.

When starting out it is a vertical skill growth, but once your muscles and brain are used to the underlying movements, further carnatic playing on guitar will be more of a horizontal plane repertoire making. Here is some learning material which will help you start and guide you in the right direction helping  you form the right habits?

Beginner to Guitar?

Try out the Beginner Videos towards the bottom of this page, to get you started.

Basics of playing Carnatic on Guitar?

Any Indian classical phrase is made of Slides, hammer ons and pull offs. As you get better with slides, hammer ons and pull offs, your Indian classical on guitar playing gets better too. You can practice the slides, hammer ons and pull offs. You can practice them as part of a song. So that, you get to practice the basics and by the time you are done, you are playing a song, a complete composition, which serves as a benchmark or assessing tool for your growth in playing, at the same time a final product you can perform for yourself or for an audience. These videos break down the compositions to phrases, phrases to its component notes, fingering, frets – strings, hammer – ons, slides and pull offs. So, yes, you don’t need any other basic instruction to start playing Carnatic. These videos show you the basic most elements and how to execute them. Then, when they are sequenced together, you get the satisfaction of playing a complete song.

Using standard tuning for Indian classical

We will be using the usual standard tuning for the guitar, and won’t be changing the tuning. The same usual guitar tuning will be enough for us to play carnatic. Guitar is used the world over to play widely different kind of music. Extremely long phrases, fast phrases, long interval phrases – all have been played on the guitar – paganini melodies, Malmsteen and other masters… The standard tuning is about how the notes on the strings are arranged on the instrument, for convenience of playing music on the instrument. When vertically moving between the strings, the standard tuning offers a convenient, compact arrangement of notes between the frets. When playing carnatic, or imitating any vocal based music, we hit on a consonant in the given phrase, play the remaining elaboration (aa or ee or oo extension after the consonant) on the same string, without hit, while sustaining the sound by using slides, hammer ons, pull offs. Keeping the Carnatic or classical nature of the music is achieved by playing elaborations between consonants on the same string, starting with a hit on a consonant. You will understand this better when you start working with the videos. Using chords along with playing Carnatic, is possible since we use standard tuning. The vast expertise of western harmony can be applied immediately to Carnatic or Indian classical when we use a standard tuned guitar to play Indian classical or Carnatic.

Playing Carnatic on the Guitar – the Bigger Picture

When you are just starting out to play the horizontal movements, slides from say, the first string 7th to the first string 3rd fret, your hand may find it difficult to stop at the right fret. Similarly when doing a slide from the left to the right, you may stop short the first few times, the movement over the frets maybe too obvious or you may overshoot and go to the fret further from where you are supposed to stop. In my experience, there is very obvious muscle movement learning that happens with time. Similar to the ‘whip’ that Bruce Lee used to talk about, the ability to touch a far note and come back and then maybe execute one more short slide to the right. It is fun. The finger tips will hurt in the beginning, but then that is the pain that precedes satisfaction. The videos includes detailed slurs, slides, hammer-on, pull-off combinations that will make you practice the right movements that will help you continue with carnatic playing. You get immediate access to phrase by phrase videos showing each phrase played along with the fret and string numbers spelled out – this helps a lot when starting to play. 

Varaveena – Raga Mohanam Geetham on Guitar

On this site, we have discussed the Mohanam Geetham and the basics of how to start playing it on the guitar by understanding the gamakas involved for each swara and phrase.

Here is a video where I play it on an acoustic guitar with no effects or edit, directly to the camera mic.


The instruction video to play the geetham shows the movements step by step, slow and with narration on which string and frets are used for each part of the geetham.

The geetham is explained using the swaras and also how it is played when the Saahithyam is sung (the saahithyam version needs to include at places, more than one swara in a single hit, played using slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs.).

Buy the detailed instruction video for $6.95:

Mahaganapatim Manasa Smarami (Raga Nattai) – Complete Video Tutorial

Example Instruction Video: Download Video (The full video is on this page, or here.)

Click on the button below to gain access to video tutorials explaining to you how to play Mahaganapatim on the guitar, for $38.

If you are buying from within India, please write to me using the contact form to proceed with the payment and to get the download links.


Till date no one has ever asked for a return for these videos, probably because the description and example videos clearly guide the learner/buyer. Maybe that is a better guarantee than offer for return and refund.

Please watch the example provided on this page, which clearly show you what you get in the lesson bundles. Watch them, decide and get the full lesson bundles.

If still for some reason you would like a refund, let me know within 60 days and you will get the refund of the amount you paid minus the Paypal charges. (Refund from Indian paypal accounts are possible only within 24 hours. Anything after that, I will be able to do only a paypal payment to you, for which paypal takes charges).

Write to me

Please write to me using the contact form below, in case you have anything to ask.

If you are buying from within India, let me know, since you won’t be able to buy through paypal.

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Beginner Videos

The Very Basics

Three videos that can help you start with guitar. These are unedited videos, with important concepts mentioned repeatedly so that the listener is reminded of it.

Raga Guitar Mastery Begins

  1. Raga Guitar Mastery Begins – Starting to connect notes using simple slides, Hammer ons, Pull offs
  2. Raga Guitar Mastery Begins | C major scale to the most basic Carnatic Raga mayamalavagowla

C major scale to Alai

How to start with the C major scale, basic lesson, and practise to easily start playing carnatic slides. Download Video

Start playing Slides