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  #1  
Old 12-29-2020, 10:10 PM
imc2111 imc2111 is offline
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Default Playing classical with no nails professionally. Is it possible?

Something I’ve always wondered. Is it possible to play classical guitar as a professional but not use nails, just the fingertips?
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Old 12-29-2020, 11:58 PM
Dak Dak is offline
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I say no way. Nylon strings need to be picked in a sharp, percussive manner to make a decent sound. It has to be a sturdy fingernail or a pick, and you can't play classical guitar repertoire with a pick. It's theoretically possible with squeeze-on fingernail simulation picks of some sort. I'd be interested to know if anyone has ever succeeded with these.
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Old 12-30-2020, 12:30 AM
ObiWanSymbian ObiWanSymbian is offline
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Fingernails are a must.

The “squeeze-on” artificial I’m using are Alaskan picks which I cannot recommend strongly enough.
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Old 12-30-2020, 05:10 AM
dkstott dkstott is offline
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Absolutely it's possible.

This site is dedicated to all the greats who played without nails

https://rmclassicalguitar.com/
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Old 12-30-2020, 08:38 AM
Golffishny Golffishny is offline
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I prefer the sound without nails, both on nylon and steel string. Nails to me sound harsh and thin. To each their own. Just play.
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Old 12-30-2020, 09:51 AM
sam.spoons sam.spoons is offline
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My classical player mate has used the services of his local nail bar in the past when a gig was looming and he had broken a nail. It works well but don't leave artificial nails on for more than a couple of days as your real nail will soften and it then takes a long while for it to recover enough to use them for playing again.

I don't play classical but do play some finger style and I don't like playing without nails, but, annoyingly, I don't get on with fingerpicks either (and I've tried loads). The nearest I've found are Alaska Finger Picks because, unlike conventional fingerpicks, they sit slightly under your nail so the tip is in the same place as your nail would be.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=aLaska+...rkbootcri01-21
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Old 12-30-2020, 02:04 PM
JParrilla JParrilla is offline
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Read this and watch the video:

https://www.classicalguitarshed.com/...t-fingernails/

Long story short its definitely possible. You can attack the strings a bit differently with flesh to get a more nail like sound. Is it going to sound exactly like a nail? maybe not. But is it going to be a deal breaker? I wouldnt think so.
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Old 12-30-2020, 09:18 PM
MarkinLA MarkinLA is offline
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There have been many famed guitarists throughout some 6-ish centuries of the guitar's evolution who've played without nails...
Try it. See if it works for you..
If so, that is all that matters my friend !....

Mark
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Old 12-31-2020, 01:27 AM
ObiWanSymbian ObiWanSymbian is offline
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“As a professional “
That’s the key point.
If you think about the sound made by contemporary classical guitarists, I will repeat myself, but I think that it is impossible to produce this sound without nails, artificial or natural.
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Old 12-31-2020, 11:48 AM
FrankHS FrankHS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sam.spoons View Post
.... It works well but don't leave artificial nails on for more than a couple of days as your real nail will soften and it then takes a long while for it to recover enough to use them for playing again...
Ive had plastic nails on my "a" continually for at least 6 years, and intermittently for another 4 years before that. Two simple tricks. Only cover 50 or 60% of nail bed, allowing the rest of nail bed to breathe, and 2., keep the borders sealed from water invasion with nail glue (meaning a light CA retouch every few days.) 90% of fake nail problems are pilot error.
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Old 01-01-2021, 07:32 PM
TBman TBman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dkstott View Post
Absolutely it's possible.

This site is dedicated to all the greats who played without nails

https://rmclassicalguitar.com/
That's a good tone. I'm going to research this.... Calluses?

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Old 01-01-2021, 07:46 PM
FrankHS FrankHS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TBman View Post
That's a good tone. I'm going to research this.... Calluses?
Pretty sure the above gentleman recommends moisturizer on hands to prevent any callouses.
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Old 01-01-2021, 07:52 PM
Carey Carey is offline
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Not sure what playing "professionally" even means, in these days of the [faux?] "pandemic". I'm not a professional by any stretch, but am glad
to now be playing with nails only on my fore and middle fingers.. it has taken some time to build a callus on the ring finger, but the sound is purer, if a little quieter; the flesh-only thumb was quite a bit easier, IME. It depends on what
kind of sound really speaks to you (or as importantly, your potential audience!), of course.

Adding: I attended a class given by Nigel North once, where he made some
of the most ravishing and rhythmical sounds that I've heard on a plucked instrument, and without nails.. he then said [dismissively, maybe] "I don't play the gitaah.." He was playing a guitar someone handed him, to demonstrate. One anecdote.

Last edited by Carey; 01-01-2021 at 08:22 PM.
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  #14  
Old 01-02-2021, 12:19 AM
Dak Dak is offline
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The initial question was: is it possible? You can get over that bar with just one counterexample, so it appears the answer is probably yes.

OTOH, Django Reinhardt invented a whole guitar playing genre and wowed the world for decades, with only two fretting fingers. Jeff Healy was blind and played his guitar lap steel style, and was probably on par with the best blues jammers in history. Beethoven composed some of the best music ever written while completely deaf and half-mad. Almost anything is possible for the best of the best, but they are extreme outliers...

My objection to using flesh finger nubs as picks on a nylon string guitar is that it is definitely a handicap. It makes getting a good sound, which is already hard enough for normal people who aren't world-historic masters, vastly harder. To me it seems like trying to reinvent the wheel. If you don't have suitable fingernails, you are probably better off changing strategy at a fundamental level, like playing a different instrument or a different guitar style, than trying that much harder than the next guy to get a similar outcome because you are fixated on playing traditional classical guitar.
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  #15  
Old 01-02-2021, 04:35 AM
Dogsnax Dogsnax is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carey View Post
the [faux?] "pandemic".
Moderators....please address this comment.
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