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Guitar lesson: Can You Play Classical Guitar Without Nails?

Aug 17, 2007
Most classical guitarists use a lot of time polishing and grooming their right hand fingernails. In order to play with nails you have to have good nails and working with them a lot. Is it possible to play witout nails? Let's take a look at no nail playing!

Angel Iglesias, a great spanish guitarist touring Denmark round 1953 played with nails in the same way as Segovia, Llobet and Barrios did. Some guitarists at this time played with their fingertips.

Another great Spanish virtuoso who toured Denmark in periods, Francisco Alfonso, (whose father studied with Tárrega) used only his fingertips. The differences of their tone quality was described by people who had heard them both:

"Alfonso's tone was unusually beautiful, round and soft while Iglesias' was harder and somewhat sharp."

Personally I have played classical guitar with nails and without nails and I can see some advantages from playing without nails:

1. You will come nearer your guitar through the contact between your fingertips and the guitar string.

2. You can play with your fingers on electric guitars without the risk of damaging your nails.

3. Playing guitar without nails will force you to play with the highest degree of articulation and concentration.

4. You will be able to play piano properly without disturbing nails.

5. You will get a soft and beautiful tone on your guitar if you consistently work on it.

Pujol a guitarist who played without nails wrote, "the flesh best transmit the feeling of the soul...such an unresponsive medium as nails interferes, somehow with the direct contact of the artist's sensibility to the string."

The art of playing without nails must be developed. You have to work with your tone as much without nail as with them. If you have used nails and start to play without nails you will feel uncomfortable before getting used to the different technique involved and before you develop callouses on you fingertips.

As times goes by you will improve your tone through your harder fingertips and your better articulation. You cannot be sloppy in your playing with this technique.

Even if you will go back to playing with your nails again you will see an improvement in you playing due to a better technique.
About the Author
Peter Edvinsson is a musician, composer and music teacher. Visit his site Capotasto Music and download your free sheet music and learn to play resources at http://www.capotastomusic.com
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