How to deal with classical guitar nails and piano playing?
November 29, 2008 5:46 PM   Subscribe

How do I manage my nails for playing both classical guitar and piano? Is it possible?

I play both classical guitar and piano, and have the requisite long nails on my right hand for proper playing of the former. The problem I run into is that long nails on the right hand force me into a suboptimal technique on the piano -- I know this by feel and by comparison, because recently my nails broke on my right hand and everything felt much better on the piano.

I've tried making my nails shorter, but my experiments have essentially revealed to me that making my nails short enough to not be a hindrance on the piano results in problems in my guitar playing.

I guess what my question boils down to is: is there any sort of removable nail system that will allow me to play classical guitar when I need to and piano when I need to? Or am I just going to have to deal with problems on the instrument I choose to favor?
posted by invitapriore to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Isn't this what fingerpicks are for?
posted by kickingtheground at 6:28 PM on November 29, 2008

Response by poster: Unfortunately, kickingtheground, good tone production on the classical guitar requires certain things that fingerpicks can't really provide.

A good tone is produced by a combination of fingernail and flesh striking the string, as well as a broad, rounded contact surface on the nail itself -- fingerpicks taper too much and seem too long to allow your finger contact with the string.
posted by invitapriore at 6:31 PM on November 29, 2008

why not drugstore fake nails?
posted by sunshinesky at 6:38 PM on November 29, 2008

Best answer: Perhaps this stuff would work for you?
posted by CKmtl at 7:52 PM on November 29, 2008

Looking at CKmtl's link reminded me that the guy who played classical guitar in one of the restaurants I worked in long ago used to glue strips cut from ping pong balls to the nails on his playing hand. He said they were easier to remove than anything else he had tried. Granted, this was in 1985, so I imagine that the technology for this has improved somewhat since then, but it might be a quick and easy fix (provided you have ping pong balls around).
posted by ralan at 9:09 PM on November 29, 2008

fingerpicks taper too much and seem too long to allow your finger contact with the string.

I wonder if there's any possibility of modifying them, then... like filing them down so the taper isn't as sharp. Well, of course, it's still going to be different from actual nails and fingertips.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:29 PM on November 29, 2008

Best answer: You absolutely need RicoNails.

I cannot recommend it enough. The guy is a genius.
posted by mi at 7:49 AM on November 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh, yes. You answered my prayers, both of you, though I think I'll probably go with RicoNails because they look easier to deal with.

Infinite thanks!
posted by invitapriore at 8:50 AM on November 30, 2008

IME you can play classical guitar without nails. I was often complemented on my tone when I was studying (shame about the fluency, speed etc!) When I cut my nails off I was able to get a sound that was as good to my ears if slightly different.

Your right hand fingers get a bit of a callus, in the same way your left hand fingers have.

When I was studying, this guy was quoted as playing without nails, because he's a lutenist. Tone sounds pretty good to me.
posted by Not Supplied at 8:52 AM on November 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Alaska fingerpicks are pretty awesome-- the front bit slips under your nail, so it's like a removable nail extension.

When you get them they are too long, but you clip/file them down to the perfect size for yourself, so you get the flesh, pluck sound you're after.
posted by Static Vagabond at 9:05 PM on December 1, 2008

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