The ascending “frenado” is slightly more difficult than the descending “frenado” simply because of what part of the hand we are executing this. Where the descending “frenado” is played by moving your fingers and knuckles in a more natural direction, the ascending “frenado” is going against all of this making it easier to get stuck. It is very important to practice this slowly at first and get the technique right.
The strum is executed using your thumb as the initial point of contact with the lower strings and as you move in an upward motion you turn your hand slightly. During the turn, the knuckles of your remaining fingers will be the ones receiving the impact and stopping all of the strings from playing. At first doing this may hurt a little, but once you get the hang of it this will become second nature to you.
As can be seen in the video above, the overall result is a “tack” sound. This sound is part of the sounds which will be included in your toolbox that you can refer to when playing any song. It is also exactly this sound which gives the Cuatro the unusual twist of being a percussion & string instrument at the same time. The “frenados” can be compared and used as a method to replace the maracas, hence, having the effects of playing two instruments at the same time…..pretty cool!
Once more, please ensure that you practice this slowly at first before trying to play at a higher tempo. If you feel that your hand is getting sore or beginning to hurt, give it a rest for some time and then come back to it. The process is similar to that of getting calluses on the tips of your fingers from marking strings.