Guitar players finger nails


If you look at the picking fingers of a guitar player, don’t be surprised if you see long finer nails. So the next time you see a guy with long finger nails on one hand only, ask him if he’s a guitar player before jumping to any conclusions, ok?

I am a guitar player who plays many different styles of music. From classical, folk to SOME country and blues. I use a pick for the most part, I use a pick in combination with my fingers and I also use straight forward finger nails.

When I started playing classical guitar seriously, my nails were great. I took gelatin capsules and some nail hardener that my aunt, and beauty salon owner, told me to use. Maybe when your young, you have stronger nails? Anyone aware of this stat?

So I don’t have fake nails on all the time. I tend to put them on only when I know I will need them to play live somewhere OR if I’m working on perfecting a piece of music that I am working on at that time. Your finger nails, like your skin, need to breath.

If you have them on all the time, it can do some serious damage to them. They will become brittle and break like crazy. Aesthetically, it can make your nails, and even you, look like your some kind of weird person who lives on the fringes of society. If your into that sort of look, then look no further.

When I have them off, I do a light buff and apply a nail moisturizer to them once in a while. I can’t stress this enough.

I’ve tried things like Ecrnal, Triple Strong Gel and even crazy glue. Bruce Cockburn uses crazy glue, but it just doesn’t work for me. I’ve talked to countless people and there seems to be no other solution out there for me. Does anyone out there have the magic bullet that I am searching for?

Keep on Jammin’

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  1. Mike says

    I have long nails not for any reason though so some ppl think it strange. Now I cant just tell them I play guitar. Wow hope no one asks me to play for them.

  2. Thomas SG says

    I wish your nails get better man. My friend plays the acoustic…he never encountered nail problems, but he has broken them several times. I personally suggest you give your nails some time, and they will grow thick. Keep trying the moisturizers.

  3. says

    Hey Thomas, I’ve been waiting for years and there is no light at the end of the tunnel! I guess it’s on in the genes and I got the short end of the stick.

  4. Renee says

    You might want to try Nail Magic. I have worn acrylic nails…not fake ones, the acrylic is polished over my real nails. But like you stated I do take them off to let my nails breathe. In the meantime I bought come Nail Magic at my local beauty supply place and it does work. They also have a web site, if you are interested

    BTW great blog and loved your videos…I love Hendrix!

    Peace ‘n Music

  5. Stan James says

    I use a pick as much as possible to prevent my fingers and nails from getting worn and broken. My father has been playing guitar for years and most of his finers are hard and white from it.

  6. Guitar Lessons says

    I knew a guy who had short nails except for his picking finge – which was very long. it was gross!

  7. says

    Hum, I’ve never tried that one Renee, thanx!

    ” I have worn acrylic nails…not fake ones, the acrylic is polished over my real nails. ” What do you mean by this? Please write back because you have sparked my interested in this.

    Keep on Jammin’

  8. says

    Those are great sounding calluses there Stan. Has he tried fake nails, or does he play a certain style that requires that sound that you get from your finger tips?

  9. says

    As a rule I think long nails are gross, but as a guitar player in my younger days I can see the point. I still have my guitar but haven’t picked it up in anger in years, I think you might have just inspired me to blow the cobwebs off it and revisit my youth. Thanks.

  10. Robert says

    I like keeping my nails as short as possible. I do fingerpicking as well and I find that it allows me to switch easier from fingerpicking to using a pick. The only time I felt the need to grow them nails was when I studied classical. So as you stated you play Classical as well I can see the problem.
    What about trying some banjo picking finger picks?

  11. says

    Now thats the spirit Judith!

    It’s responses like yours that keep me going doing this blog, right on girl!!!

    Judith, Keep on Jammin’

  12. says

    I’ve been trying a couple of suggestions from many readers on this blog. They seem to work for some aspects of my problem but not all. I haven’t found that magic bullet quite yet so I am open to any and all ideas!

    Thanx Robert for the comment

  13. Eric says

    I play but it still creeps me out seeing it on people. I don’t know why, but I still like the softer sound of finger picking without nails. To each their own I guess!

  14. says

    It’s ok to be creeped out with something like this Eric! I have encountered other people with this same phobia .

    I just tell people that I play classical guitar as well. They seem to understand that train of thought.

    I’m not lying! I do incorporate classical techniques when I play with or without a band. I find that if you can expose, and lightly educate, people to this, they begin to recognize nails as part of the equation of playing guitar. Then it kind of de-mystifies the fear of it.

    I love to have a full sound when I play everything. When I have to have a soft touch, I just play softer, not hitting the strings as hard. I think that is a VERY important gift to execute live. I think it is an essential part of a guitarists arsenal! Dynamics ROCK!!! The sign of a good musician in my eyes.

    Keep on Jammin’ Eric!

  15. Pablo Flamenco says

    I must have some of those ‘Hard Nail’ genes. I play flamenco guitar so they get a beating. Ocassionally I have to get the super glue out and repair them. But touch wood they hold up well!

  16. says

    You lucky son of a gun Pablo. You realize that you are the envy of most guitarist out there that are not blessed with the “Hard Nail” genes! You must think that we are a bunch of cry babies over our soft nails.

  17. says

    You know, I was wondering. Isn’t there some type of vitamin that makes your nails stronger? Is it Vitamin E? I can’t remember. I only ask because I’ve started playing more classical guitar pieces and I’m having the worst time trying not to break a nail.

  18. Pauline says

    Take a Biotin supplement daily, they don’t cost much and in a few months, you will definitely see and feel a difference to your fingernails. Biotin will help to strengthen your nails, it does this by your nails growing thicker.

  19. says

    Wow, that’s freaky Pauline! I’ve just started taken Biotin for other health reasons so I guess I can add that to it’s fabulous effects.

    I’m just at the end of the old part of my nails, I just took off the acrylic nails about 1 month ago, and they are growing abnormally slow for some reason. I wonder if Biotin slows down nail growth? Has anyone heard of this before???