How To Play Guitar With Long Nails?

Will you let me describe your nails? I guess they are pretty long! Are you wondering if there’s a way on how to play guitar with long nails? Well, there is. However, let me be clear that there are times that long nails are advantageous and disadvantageous. Let’s have a look at it and talk about how you can do it!

The Classical Guitar

This instrument is something that revolutionized the modern-day guitar-driven music. This iconic wooden piece is not the first portable stringed instrument. In fact, archeologists found out that guitars have a rich history that dates back as far as 4000 years ago.

But hey, the classical guitar requires you to grow long nails on your playing hands. So, asking if how to play guitar with long nails is actually a fad in playing classical guitar pieces. The greatest potential sound of the classical guitar is achieved with a properly shaped playing hand fingernails.

But yeah, I know, classical guitar music is not really a hit in today’s world. Actually, only a few people listen to it. If you want to listen to an excellent classical guitar piece that showcases the sound produced by long nails, you might want to listen to this.

Your Hands and the Guitar

Most people are right-handed, and usually, the left hand is the fretting hand, and the right hand is the strumming or plucking hand. Now, to avoid confusion with left-handed musicians reading this article, let’s just refer to the hands as fretting hands and plucking hands.

Long Nails on the Classical Guitar

If you love classical guitar pieces and you are inspired to study and play classical music, it’s essential that you grow your nails on your plucking hands. Classical guitar strings are struck with a 45-degree angle with a bit of the flesh on the fingertips.

how to play guitar with long nails

Without long fingernails, you won’t get much tone from your classical guitar. It would sound dull and weak. But with the right shape and length of nails, you will have amazing tone and louder sound projection.

If you are interested in playing classical guitar with long nails, it’s best to have a tutor. Sure, you could watch a lot of youtube video tutorials to learn about it, but, a youtube tutor won’t give you live feedback on how you could correct how you play.

Here’s how you pluck your classical guitar strings.

Step 1

Rest your thumb on the low E string and plant your index finger on the G string, your middle finger on the B string, and your ring finger on the B string.

Step 2

how to play guitar with long nails

Make sure that the tips of your fingers are touching the guitar strings.

Step 3

To play a note, give the string a gentle press and, using a swift motion, pluck the string with your finger towards your palms. Remember, your finger should press the string gently with your fingertips and pluck it without hooking the strings.

For more information on how to start playing classical pieces on your guitar, you can watch this video to help you begin!

Hybrid Picking with your Playing Hand

You have probably heard about hybrid picking somewhere. If this is, however, you first time to hear this term, I’ll give you an overview and discuss how it’s done.

The guitar pick is held with the thumb and index finger of your playing hand. This allows you to strum your guitar and play music. However, when playing with fingerstyle technique, strumming and plucking strings is your strings is mixed to play the melody and the rhythm parts of songs.

Imagine strumming your guitar while precisely plucking individual strings to create an interesting melody and rhythmic harmony.

This is how it’s done.

Step 1

Hold your pick with your thumb and index finger.

Step 2

Plant your hands on the bridge. If you will be playing muted notes, you can touch the strings on the bridge of the guitar. Keep your palms from touching the strings if you want the notes to ring.

Step 3

In hybrid picking, your pick plucks the low E string, A string, and the D string. You can always deviate from this depending on the music you are playing. However, by default, your pick is to strike those strings. You can use your guitar pick to strum or pluck those strings.

Note: When strumming the strings with your guitar pick, keep your playing hands close. Control the way you strum so that you don’t make exaggerated movements. This gives you more reaction time if your middle and index finger will pluck nearby strings for the melody.

Step 4

The middle finger and index finger are on standby and ready to pluck your melodic line. The high E string, B string, and G string are the default strings that these fingers play. Long fingernails on your playing hands will help you, as with the classical guitar, bring out great tone from your guitar.

Without long fingernails on your playing hand, it would be quite challenging to do fingerstyle with hybrid picking. The guitar pick is like an extension of your thumb and index finger. Growing longer nails on your middle and ring finger would compensate and extend their reach to gain access to your guitar strings easily.

Long Nails On Your Fretting Hands

Unfortunately, long fingernails on your fretting hands would make guitar playing difficult. It’s not impossible to play the guitar with long fingernails on your fretting hands. However, you will find your fretting fingers in an awkward position to properly fret the strings.

how to play guitar with long nails

Also, this awkward position may lead you to mute other strings. Overall, many musicians would agree to a consensus that fretting fingers should have short nails.


Playing the guitar with long fingernails is not impossible. In fact, some disciplines and techniques would require you to have long fingernails to project better sound.

Classical guitar playing techniques would need you to grow your nails on your playing hands long and properly shaped. Hybrid picking is great for fingerstyle and would also require you long fingernails to develop good technique.

However, having long fingernails on your fretting hand is not generally advised as it may give you trouble fingering your chords.

Now, I bet you know how to play guitar with long nails! Read more about proper plucking techniques and your long ginger nails will help you bring out good music!


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