Guitarists have never been fond of having long nails. Even aspiring guitarists are frequently advised to maintain their nails neat and short in order to improve their playing.
But can having long nails make it harder for you to play the guitar well? That is definitely not the case. And we’re here to dispel this false impression. Use the tips and tricks in this article to learn how to play guitar with long nails.
How short do your Nails need to be to Play the Guitar?
It goes without saying that it will be challenging and uncomfortable to play the guitar with exceptionally long nails. However, playing with nails that are too short can also be painful and uncomfortable! Pressing your strings down on the fretboard might be painful if you trim your nail too short and expose the nail bed. Once your nail has been clipped, you should at the very least be able to see a thin white line.
What Length Do Long Nails Have?
How can you know whether the fingernail is already thought to be long before we address the primary subject and show you the techniques?
Keep in mind that our perceptions of what constitutes a long fingernail vary. Since most guitarists prefer short fingernails, they may already consider their nails lengthy even if only slight growth has occurred.
However, some guitarists don’t mind a little growth as long as it doesn’t extend past the nail bed. Playing the guitar won’t be an issue at this length because you can still easily hold down the strings. If the fingernails extend past the finger pads, they will deem them to be lengthy.
Rarely, other guitarists with acrylic or synthetic fingernails can hold chords and play guitars with a fair amount of ease. Even though it may have required a lot of time and practice, it is genuinely amazing to be a part of a small group of talented guitarists despite having quite long nails.
However, in order to maintain consistency, we define long nails as those that extend past the finger pads. This makes it difficult to hold a solid tone since the lengthy nails can interfere with holding down chords. Because of this, you’ll need tactics and skills to play the guitar well without ruining the appearance of your nails.
Techniques for Playing Guitar with Long Nails
We can finally begin instructing you on the essential tactics for success now that you have a solid understanding of playing the guitar with long nails.
Improve your fingerpicking abilities
When playing the guitar, the fingerpicking technique involves manually pulling or plucking each string to create a distinct sound. Since it highlights the distinctive tone of the guitar, country songs tend to favour it more than other genres.
Pick strumming with long nails can be fairly challenging. The pick will eventually rotate or slip off of your fingers because you won’t be able to gain a strong grasp on it. And that can be very awkward if you’re performing in front of a large audience. So instead of putting yourself through that, why not strive to get better at fingerpicking?
Obviously, getting acclimated to this playing style might take some time. But with the correct practise and persistence, you’ll undoubtedly master it quickly.
Use your fingernails instead of the pick
If you simply cannot abandon strumming, or if fingerpicking does not fit your playing style, why not abandon the pick entirely?
Here are some suggestions for nail filing that you might want to think about:
- You can give your nails a pointed centre by filing them. You can start with this shape because it most closely resembles a pick. To guarantee a pick-like sound, you must, however, make sure that the sides going to the centre are equal.
- Start with rounder fingernails if filing the pointed centre seems too difficult. Even though they don’t resemble picks, rounder fingernails help the guitar sound richer when you play it. Who wouldn’t want that, too?
- The third nail shape you should think about is one that slopes to one side. This nail design produces a warmer sound, making it ideal for playing classical guitar. You are entirely responsible for determining the slope’s angle. You can experiment with various angles for each fingernail to see which sound suits you the best.
Keep your fretting hand’s nails from protruding past the finger pad
After finishing our discussion of strumming techniques, let’s move on to fretting hand techniques. As was previously noted, maintaining the chord firmly in place on the fretboard presents the most challenge while playing the guitar with long fingernails. The pressure you apply with your fingernails to hold down the chords won’t be the same if the finger pads aren’t applying the same amount of pressure.
We advise you to let your nails grow, but just to the border of the finger pad. In this manner, holding down the chords won’t be hindered by your nails. You still have adequate length with this, but without the bother that can result in subpar sound.
Utilize Open Tuning
If you truly want to keep your nails long, though, we advise open tuning your guitar. Tuning the G string to a G#, the D string to an E, and the A string to a B is required. With these adjustments, you won’t need to apply a lot of force to the fretboard in order to generate the same sounds on the guitar. Additionally, using lengthy fingernails to grip chords is made much simpler by this technique.
In conclusion, I think we can all agree that learning to play the guitar while having long nails is totally doable. With the appropriate strategies, you can quickly become an expert in this particular ability.
You can use the four techniques we’ve described—fingerpicking, replacing the pick with your fingernails, filing your fingernails to resemble a pick, and using open tuning—to play while retaining the length of your fingernails. To determine which method is best for you, choose one or test out all of them.
But keep in mind that it will be challenging at first to play the guitar with long nails. You need to be strong enough to see things through to the conclusion if you want to succeed.
In this video, two guitarists attempt to play the guitar while wearing false nails:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7DBsUbJwng