Playing the guitar with long fingernails: Is it really necessary?

What is the difference between playing with or without nails? How long should I have them? How do I file them? In this post we will answer these questions. We will see how to play the guitar with long nails and if it is really necessary.

Why play guitar with long fingernails?

Playing the guitar with long nails completely affects the sound. With them we get a warmer sound and a much rounder tone than if we play without them.

However, certain techniques and tips for filing the nails must be taken into account in order to obtain the desired sound. The execution will also have an influence, since when  plucking we must do it with both fingertip and fingernail. If we play only with the fingernail, it will sound too metallic.

Types of nails, I have type c nails.

Differences between playing with fingernails vs. playing with fingers

Playing with fingers only: The sound is dry and cutting, there are hardly any nuances and the melodies lack luster. Playing only with fingernails: Sound too metallic, strident, with too much brightness and little body, it is as if you were playing only with plectrums.

Playing with fingernail and bud: Round, bright and at the same time deep sound, you can make nuances because depending on the angle of attack you can get a more metallic or warmer sound, which is important when playing music because the nuances are necessary.

Listen to the difference between these three sounds:

I want to play the guitar with nails, what should I do?

The first step is to let them grow for about 2 to 3 weeks until they reach a considerable length. Of course, don’t forget to clean them regularly, as dirty nails are unsightly and unhygienic.

The next thing to keep in mind is that you need to have a file and a buffer to start with. You can also use woodworking sandpaper that is not too rough.

The 2 methods of nail filing

There are two schools, so to speak, of nail filing. On the one hand, we have those guitarists who file their nails in a rounded fashion and others who prefer a more angular and rounded filing. Here you have both options:

Rounded nails

I usually file my nails in a rounded way, here is a video where I explain how to do it:

Angled nails (on ramp)

The second option we have is ramp filing. There is no one option more correct than another, in fact, there are great guitarists that use this filing method so you can try it too. You can follow the same tips from the previous video and apply them to this filing method.

My nails are weak, what do I do?

On the one hand, it is important not to leave the nails too long because the longer they are the easier they can break.

Nails also wear out the more you practice and they will lose their shape, it can even happen that they crack at any part of the tip, so you must be careful because they can easily get tangled with any sweater or garment. That is why we must file them when we see that we have broken a piece.

On the other hand, there are nail strengtheners that are also recommended if you have weak nails, you can even use a transparent nail polish and add chopped garlic. You should leave it for several days and then apply it on your nails. At first it smells but after 10 minutes the smell disappears. You can also remove the garlic smell with lemon.

Of course, you can not miss a good  nutrition where cabbage, broccoli, lean meats, eggs, almonds, etc. abound. But this is another matter.

Which guitar can I play with long fingernails?

You can play long fingernails with virtually any  type of guitar. However, the pressure you exert on the Spanish or classical guitar should not be the same as if you play acoustic or electric guitar, as your nails are much more likely to wear down and break easily.


Nail filing is a very personal thing where the type of filing, the type of nails and fingers you have or the positioning of the instrument and the wrist come into play. Therefore, it is important to keep checking our sound with the guitar once we have finished filing the nails in order to achieve the desired sound. Do you play with long nails? Do you plan to do so?

Like this post? Please share to your friends:
Leave a Reply

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: