Can You Play Ukulele With Long Nails

Ukulele enthusiasts, ESPECIALLY GIRLS often wonder, can they play ukulele with long nails or they should cut them out?

Well, it’s totally OKAY to play ukulele with long nails on the strumming hand. But you should keep fretting hand nails short as long nails on fretting hand make it difficult to play chords and riffs.

Long nails when used on the strumming hand, make the sounds louder, crispy, and crunchy.

However, if you want to strum ukulele with long nails you should practice it along. Long nails may affect your speed as they can stick with the strings.

Let me explain this topic to you in detail.

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Can You Play Ukulele with Long Nails?

Can You Play Ukulele with Long Nails

It depends.

If you love crispy sounds then you should use long nails on your strumming hand. Keep in mind that this will affect the speed of your playing.

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Because long nails can bog down the strings. So, if you want to play ukulele with long nails you need to practice with it.

With time you will become familiar with long nails and your speed will improve also.

If you don’t like crunchy and crispy sounds then you should avoid long nails as they decrease the damping in strings. That’s the reason why long nails lead to crispy sounds.

Don’t ever, use long nails on the fretting hand, otherwise, it will be difficult to hold chords and play riffs on ukulele.

Keep fretting hands nails short to make it easy to hold the fingers on the fretboard.

Read also,

Can You Play Ukulele with Acrylic Nails?

Can You Play Ukulele with Acrylic Nails

Yes, you can strum ukulele with acrylic nails and it sounds the same as natural nails.

If you follow Dolly Parton, in this article she explains how she uses Acrylic Nails to play the harp, violin, and other instruments.

Acrylic nails are just like natural nails that can be attached to your nails whenever you want. After use, you can take it off from your nails.

Acrylic nails are a good alternative to natural nails.

If you want to play ukulele with nails in a song and without nails in the next one then this is a good option for you.

With acrylic nails, you don’t need to raise your natural nails and whenever you want to play crispy sounds on ukulele, you just need to put them on your nails.

How Long Should Your Nails Be for Ukulele?

How Long Should Your Nails Be for Ukulele

The ideal size of nails on the fretting hand should be about 1 to 1.5 millimeters.

Anything more than this size will make it difficult to hold the strings on the fretboard.

However, on the strumming hand, you can raise your nails as much as you are comfortable with to strum with it.

You can use the nails in place of a pick. Long nails on strumming hands make the sound crisp, sharp, and louder.

How Do You Strum a Ukulele Without Hurting Your Nails?

ukulele strumming finger position

To strum a ukulele without hurting the nails is to keep your hand at a 45-degree angle.

This makes all your fingers within reach of the ukulele strings and the angled position prevents the nails to bog down with the strings.

Here are some points you should keep in mind when strumming ukulele with nails.

  • Keep the nails cut at the perfect C-shape. Nails should not be in un-even shape. Un-even nails can hitch between the strings.
  • Keep the hand positions at 45-degree to the ukulele’s body.
  • Don’t raise your nails above a certain length such as 6-8 mm.
  • The point of contact should be the tip of the nail.
  • Do not apply more pressure on the strings when strumming.
  • Release the string with a relaxed fist.

Keeping these points in your mind when practicing you will definitely see the improvisation.

Long Nails for the Fretting Hand

Long Nails for the Fretting Hand

As I have told you above, you should not use long nails for the fretting hand.

  • When you use long nails on the fretboard, you will see the damping effect will decrease which leads to lose your control on sound dynamics.
  • Strings sound like without the mid-frequency and added high frequency.
  • The sweetness of sound will be gone.
  • Even you find it difficult to hold chords and progressions.

So, you should not raise your nails on fretting hands as a beginner.

Can Long Nails Help on the Strumming?

Yes, long nails help with strumming. They act like a pick and make your ukulele sound crisp, loud, and clear.

However, you find it difficult to play with long nails at first. But with time you will be familiar with this.

Just keep the points in mind discussed above, and you will get the most out of it.

Do Professionals Use Long Nails to Play Ukulele?

Yes, I have mentioned Dolly Parton who is the music director from the USA. She uses acrylic nails to play different stringed instruments such as the harp, violin, guitar and also ukulele.

There are other ukulele players out there who use long nails or acrylic nails to strum their ukulele.

How Can You Play Ukulele with Long Nails

If you know the proper method then you can play ukulele with long nails easily.

Some of the methods I have mentioned above.

Such as the angle of the finger placement should be 45-degree which makes your fingers reach all the strings easily.

You should use different fingers for different strings such as the upper string should be played with the thumb, the second one with the index finger, the third with the middle finger, and the lowest string with the ring finger.

Don’t press the strings deeply and release the strings gently. As deep as you press the strings as much difficulty you will face to strum.

Always use the tip of the nail to strum the strings and nails should be cut down in C-shape.

How to Maintain Long Natural Nails While Learning Ukulele?

When you play ukulele with long nails it may break and wear out them. So, you should always maintain your nails.

You should use a good nail cutter and shape the nail in C-shape. Don’t leave cambered nails which could bog out with the strings.

Keep your nails in even length. If one finger has long nails and the other has shorter then when you strum your ukulele the finger with long nails could hitch up with the string.

Frequent cutting of nails is necessary for a ukulele player. Whether you are playing with long nails or short nails you need to maintain their round shape.

How and Where to Get Acrylic Nails for Ukulele?

Acrylic nails are common beauty products, so you will find them in offline and online stores.

Amazon is the best online marketplace to order the perfect size acrylic nails.

You can reach offline beauty stores to get acrylic nails. Also, some musical instrument stores sell acrylic nails which are designed to play ukulele and other stringed instruments.

Is It Better to Play Ukulele with Fingers or Pick?

I have mentioned in my other articles that ukulele is a fingerpicking instrument so the best option to play ukulele is fingerpicking.

BUT, if you want more crispy, loud, and clear sound then you can use a pick. But, don’t use hard ones. Hard picks can damage the nylon strings used in the ukulele.

Use soft picks built for nylon strings which you can find in musical stores.

One of the common problems of using a pick on ukulele is it may detune the strings especially if the strings are new.

Nylon strings are less elastic that’s why they detune frequently. And, when you use pick then this problem may become bigger.

Is It Okay to Play Ukulele with Thumb?

Play Ukulele with Thumb

Of course, in fact, the thumb is one of the prominent fingers to play ukulele.

We use the four fingers for four strings on the ukulele in which the thumb is used for the first string (G).

You can also use your thumb to play all the strings however it’s not a prevailing method.

Instead, you should use your thumb only for the 1st string (G), index for the 2nd string (C), middle finger for 3rd string (E), and ring finger for the 4th string (A).

Bottom Line

So, above I have given the answer to that can you play Ukulele with long nails or not. I think you’ve got your answer.

I always suggest my readers play without nails however, exceptions are there. You can experiment with long nails on strumming and see if it’s the right method for you.

If yes, then go ahead and if not then cut down our nails and start strumming with naked fingers.

That’s it.

Happy ukulele playing.

Gautam Roy is a recording engineer and a blogger from India. He loves listening music, playing Guitar and Ukulele, writing, and travelling. He is also an active investor and a successful entrepreneur.

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