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Should You Grow Your Fingernails to Play Classical Guitar?

You’ve probably seen at least one. The classical guitarist with longer nails on the right and short ones on the left. It seems a bit complicated and a true commitment to keeping those nails at optimum length, and it certainly can be a point of curiosity for the casual observer. Are classical guitar fingernails right for you? At what point should you grow them? Here are some things to consider.

Why Nails?

First of all, why grow your nails at all? The answer is TONE. Longer fingernails can give you more tonal options. From lush, warm tones to bright, metallic sounds, nails can be used exclusively or with the tips of your fingers to create distinct tone colors that you might find appealing as a player.


Are they Necessary?

Look, it’s all about preference. Growing your nails on the right hand is not absolutely necessary to play classical guitar. It’s your choice if you want to play without nails. But even though you can find historic reference of serious players who did not grow their nails, pretty much everyone since Segovia has done so. If you are really serious about classical guitar, we recommend you give it a try.


How Long is Long?

In truth, you don’t need to grow your nails all that much. A little bit goes a long way. They do need to reach past the tips of your fingers, though. Growing them too long can be a hindrance, so try different lengths and see what works best for you.




Shape Shifting

Just like every fingerprint is unique, the shape of your fingertips and how they connect to your nails can be very different. There’s no one perfect length or shape that will fit everyone. You may have rounder or flatter tips and they may slope away from the nail or lean right up against it. Try different shapes to see what’s the most comfortable and useful for you.


Good Vibrations

What are we trying to achieve here? Think about it. When a string is struck in a way that makes it vibrate in a circular motion, it sounds full and round. When the string is hooked and plucked by the nail, it vibrates back and forth, making it sound more harsh. Your goal should be to shape your nails so that the strings slide off the nail without getting hooked. Ideally you want to push through the string without snagging it. 


So, are classical guitar nails right for you? You won’t know until you try! 


Looking for more tips? Once you’ve grown your nails, here are some pointers on maintaining them. 


Want to learn classical guitar from the best? Try a free lesson here today.


Other articles you might like:


Classical Vs. Acoustic Guitar: A Complete Guide

What Makes Classical Guitar so Classic?

Spanish Guitar or Classical Guitar: A Lesson on Leyenda






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