The Fretting Problem In Numbers
If you want to play a note, youll have to use your fingertips to put pressure on the strings and frets. The total height of the fret and the string will determine at what point youll be able to start applying sufficient pressure.
The average fret wire is about 1mm. There are some exceptions, but its not likely these concern you. In addition to the fret, well also take the string into account. These vary a bit when it comes to the gauge:
- Electric guitar 0.229mm to 0.254mm
- Acoustic guitar 0.305mm to 0.381mm
Now that youve been presented with these numbers try to imagine putting pressure on the strings with anything longer than really short fingernails. Its nearly impossible. Of course, youll not always have your fingers at a ninety-degree angle, but this should give you an idea of how fast your nails can become a problem in terms of length.
Can You Play Guitar With Long Nails
Playing the guitar usually doesnt require you to consider any cosmetic variables. However, your fingernails are the exception to this rule, as they are an extension of your fingertips. Growing them might get in the way of your ability to play the guitar at your best.
So the big question is, can you play the guitar if you have long fingernails?
In short, playing guitar with long nails on your fretting hand is not ideal. It will limit your ability to put enough pressure on the frets and strings with your fretting hand. On the other hand, if youre playing classical guitar or fingerstyle, playing guitar with long nails on your picking hand is actually an advantage.
Lets take a look at what the limiting factors of long nails can be. Now, long is a bit of a subjective word, to begin with. So well try to figure out at what point fingernails are too long to play with, why this is the case, and what the advantages are too long fingernails.
Do You Need Long Fingers To Play Guitar
When I faced any problem to play new guitar chords, it makes me think, do I need a long finger to play guitar.
I think it happens some of you guys also. Right!
It is true that if you compare short fingers vs. long fingers. Long one gets the extra benefit.
Like You have to 6 tall to play basketball.
But I think with a comfortable guitar neck, thumb position. Wont make it difficult to learn and play guitar.
Can I use acrylic nails?
There is an opportunity to get certain. Perhaps not only are you going to get control of this form and state of ones own nails.
Nevertheless, you will also guard your nails out of the usage. And also tear of actively playing that may happen in the event that you play with a good deal.
Do you need long nails to play fingerstyle?
A whole lot of folks like it. However, it is maybe not required. Learning finger-style is chiefly concerning procedure. But the long term can offer a particular sound plenty of individuals appear to really like.
Some FAQ about Can you play guitar with long nails?
So how exactly can Dolly Parton engage in these claws onto her behalf hands?
She usually tones her guitar so that she could play the bare chords. Thus, in nature, she does not desire her palms as a result of the. Needless to mention this restricts playing with the guitar a lot.
Could I utilize acrylic nails?
Can I play fingerstyle with long nails?
Could I just develop my nails to displace a thumb-pick?
So what do I consume to find nails that are strong?
Some Other Topic Which Will Help You
Can You Play Guitar Without A Pick?
Sometimes a guitar player wants to make finger-picking. But playing with a pick & at the same time picking is not possible.
So, a question is on your mind. How do I play guitar without a pick?
Yes, I must say I enjoy while playing guitar without a pick. I can feel the strings also there vibration. I am strumming with fingers. So natural.
Guitar Pick is an alternative and refuses the bonding with you & your guitar.
Playing Guitar With Long Nails On The Picking Hand
Although I prefer to have short fingernails on both hands, there are also people that prefer having longer fingernails. Usually, when people prefer this, they play a fingerpicking or strumming style of guitar. Long nails can also serve as a pick of sorts. Its not easier or harder to play this way, its just a matter of getting used to.
The main issue with any other style is that you give up some control with long and even medium length nails. This is a matter of distance since a larger distance will impair accurate play. The fact that you cant use a pick has a lot to do with this as well. Its just really hard to hold a pick correctly when your fingernails reach a certain length.
But if you only want to play in a strumming or fingerpicking style having medium length nails, as long as theyre strong, doesnt have to be a problem at all. In fact, a lot of people prefer their nails a bit longer for this purpose. Look at some of the most famous fingerstyle guitarists, youll find a lot of them have long nails on their picking hand.
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What About The Thumb Nail
While the thumb nail may be longer, it plays by the same rules as the fingernails. Regardless of your thumb technique, file from below, at an upward angle. Create a bit of a ramp.
The thumb nail shape is usually far more forgiving than the fingernail shape. As long as you have any thumbnail at all, you can generally sound decent. Not so with the fingers.
How To Trim And Shape You Nails Correctly For Guitar
The length of your nails is not the only thing that its important. Once your nails have grown, you can then trim and shape them for the guitar.
But how should your trim and shape your nails correctly for the guitar? A drop-like shape is recommended. Make the left side of the nails smooth so that the finger can pluck the string without frictions. Position the fingers at a 45-degree angle and pluck the strings with both flash and nail.
IMPORTANT: Pluck the strings with both flesh and nails. The first part of the finger that touches the string is the flesh, followed by the left side of the nail. This is why I like to trim my nails so that the flesh on the left side of the finger is uncovered.
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Who Plays Without Nails
Some truly fantastic fingerstyle guitarists play without nails, and I actually learned from them that this was even an option!
MY personal idol, Tommy Emmanuel plays without long nails. He just uses the flesh of his fingertips. Take a listen to this video and you tell me if theres a big sound or not.
Even though its a little difficult to see his fingertips because hes going so fast, I can assure you hes not using his nails. He is using a thumbpick though, we can talk about that in other article but I highly recommend trying one!
Another great fingerstyle guitarist is Michael Fix. Hes another phenomenal musician. Heres one of his pieces. Is that a big enough sound for you?
While comparing yourself to the best guitarists around isnt really a great benchmark, its definitely worth seeing what the best are up to!
In the next section Ill show you a couple fingerstyle guitarists that are all about the long nails.
Interesting point Virtuoso Pepe Romero advised classical guitarists to play with flesh for at least one year to understand the basics of producing a sound, even if they choose nails later. Taken from Adam Raffertys article, check it out here:
You Could Use Acrylic Nails
Its not uncommon for guitarists to get fake nails added to one of their hands. In other words, some players may actually go to a salon to get fake nails, like women commonly do.
Its definitely not as common as simply growing them out, but its something worth considering, because not only will it save you a lot of time, but theyll probably look a bit better too.
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Develop Your Skill In Fingerpicking
Fingerpicking is a guitar-playing technique where you pull on or pluck the strings individually to produce a unique kind of sound. It is especially popular among country songs since it helps bring out the guitars unique tone.
When you have long nails, strumming with a pick can be quite tricky. Since you wont get a good grip over the pick, it ends up rotating or slipping off of your fingers. And if youre performing in front of a crowd, that can be really embarrassing.
So, to save you the humiliation, why not try and improve your fingerpicking skills instead?
Admittedly, it might take some time to get used to this playing style. But with the right practice and patience, youll surely get the hang of it in no time.
Can I Play Guitar With Long Nails
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If youre wondering whether or not its possible to play guitar with long nails, youll need to take a look at your preferred genres and individual playing style. Whether or not you can keep your nails and still play will largely depend on your personal taste.
There are concrete measures, however, that you can take to make playing guitar with long nails easier. This article breaks down styles of guitar playing that better accommodate long nails and then offers a few easy tips to help you preserve your nails while still progressing on the instrument.
First off, however, its helpful to discuss the effects of long nails on your playing style and clarify when nails turn from an asset for certain styles to a detriment in all of them.
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Should I Cut My Nails To Play Guitar
Ill be honest when I began teaching my friend guitar, I suggested she cut her nails down to normal length.
I would recommend the same to you, if youre serious about playing the guitar.
If youre intent on becoming a fingerpicking pro, then keeping the nails on your strumming hand long could benefit you.
For long-nailed guitarists who are confident enough to learn a new tuning style and how to play chords in a new way, that could be worth trying!
But for anyone else, Id highly recommend trimming your nails so you can hold chords properly and comfortably.
Guitar Nails The Left Hand :
We will start with the short and more obvious one the left hand that you are fingering the chords with. This one should be TOTALLY clipped all the time.
I clip mine once every 3 days max, and dammit, I really don’t know why so many people do not do that themselves, but I always see guitarists with huge left-hand fingernails buzzing all over the guitar and struggling to nail the chords just because their fingernails get in their way by not letting them fully press the string to the fretboard, touching other strings and etc.
Just make sure you’re always on top of that and have them clipped and nicely maintained the benefits are well worth these 30 seconds once every 3 days.
Whops! Looks like I’ve been slacking on the left hand trimming for a few days It’s definitely harder to press down some of the chord shapes when your nails look like that.
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What Happens At The String Level
To understand how to shape your nails, you need to first understand how they stroke the strings.
When the string is activated in a circular motion, the resulting sound is warm and beautiful.When the string is snagged or hooked, the string vibrates with more of a back-and-forth motion, which makes the sound brash and ugly.
So we want our stroke to activate the string in a circular motion . To do this, the string must slide off of the skin and fingernail as the finger moves through the string.
If the finger nail snags in any way, it will produce a bad tone. A good stroke produces a good sound.
So we dont need necessarily long nails. We instead benefit from well-shaped nails that work with our playing technique.
Is It Better To Have Long Or Short Nails For Guitar
On the strumming hand, nails are better for striking strings when fingerpicking and adds volume. Personally i keep my finger nails really short on both hands and i would recommend that others do the same as i don’t think there is much of an advantage to fingerpicking if you have long nails, short nails work just fine.
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Why Most Guitarists Don’t Have Long Fingernails
First of all, we’re talking only about your fretting hand. Fingerstyle players often grow out the finger nails on their picking hand to act as individual finger picks. If you’ve ever seen a Flamenco guitarist you’ll see their picking hand has longer fingernails that are very well maintained and shaped. But let’s talk about the fretting hand, which guitarists typically keep short.
The primary reason, really the only reason, is that long fingernails prevent you from properly fretting a note. Since you want to fret your strings with your fingertips , long fingernails tend to get in the way. In these cases you end up fretting with the pad of your finger which causes some problems.
But I’ve seen plenty of good guitar players with longer fingernails, so maybe there’s something I don’t know?
To find out first hand, I decided to take a trip to the local $.99 store to grab a set of fake nails.
OK, here’s what I found….
Full length fake fingernails were way too long. In fact, I found them way too long to do much of anything. So I decided to trim them to what I would call medium length fingernails.
And while it was better, it wasn’t much better. I was able to play a G chord and an A chord as a demo. But it was hard and it took a while.
I suppose if you have longer fingernails regularly you’re used to them and can work around some of the obstacles. But for me it was too much!
Try Filing Your Nails
Filling your nails is another great way to enhance your playing experience. If youre just starting out, you can file your nails in a round shape that helps you to get a fuller tone while fingerpicking.
One more nail shape you might want to try is slopped nails or a share where your nails resemble the shape of the pick. You can choose the slopping angle as per your comfort, just make sure your nail is smooth and there are no hard edges.
Note: if you use your nails instead of a pick on heavy gauge strings, you might end up breaking your nails.
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Should You Try Playing With Nails
I would say its still worth trying the long nails anyway. If you dont try both, youll never know which you actually prefer. Just because you hate the idea of walking around with long nails shouldnt dissuade you from trying it out.
Having long nails is generally recommended, so Id still recommend giving it a go. Well go over a few of the long nails advantages here.
First of all, Long nails are much louder right away. You can think of long nails as little picks on the ends of your fingertips, and everyone knows that playing with a pick is much louder than playing with your finger.
This can be especially beneficial for the beginner guitarist, because you wont need to put as much effort in to each pluck if the sound comes much more easily. Which brings me to my second point:
Long Nails can make fingerstyle easier. This is because each note will require less effort to produce the desired sound.
Once you have all your nails at the perfect length, you can actually play quite well even if youre just a beginner. With perfect nails, the sound comes quite easily.
One last thing worth mentioning about long nails, is that you can get fake nails.
This would remove the inconsistencies, because if a nail breaks, just glue on a new one! In addition to that, if you go to a proper nail salon and get some real strong nails, youll never have to worry about that again!
How Do You Strum Without A Pick
If you tried to strum with three fingers the same as you do when strumming down, your fingers would get caught up in the strings. So using just your first finger is smoother. For both strumming down and up be sure and keep your right hand relaxed. Your fingers should give as the glide across the strings.
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Can Guitarist Have Acrylic Nails
Guitarists can play with acrylic nails as long as they are secured properly, as playing guitar will push your nails away from your finger leading to breakage or having them rip off altogether.
However, having long acrylic nails on your fretting hand will be detrimental to your playing. Having short acrylic nails on your fretting hand and long acrylic nails on your picking hand may defeat the purpose and look of you having the acrylic nails in the first place.