Are long right-hand fingernails *really* necessary for fingerstyle?

No.

I play piano, so long nails are right out.
 
"I keep my fingernails long, so they click when I play the Piano." (Joe Ely, Fingernails)
 
I'm pretty good at growing long, solid nails, but I HATE how they sound
Me too!
I think someone would do better at producing bold tones the rougher/harder their fingertips are.
True. My finger pads are pretty tough after 2+ years of playing with NO nails at all.
But the sound is quite different between nails & pads. I'm just (for now) happiest with pads
The sound is much prettier, especially if you play fingerstyle and/or classical.
I cut to the quick with clippers... then and sand with 220 grit sandpaper. Zero nails for me!
I file down to the quick every couple of days.
I have also realized that I prefer the sound of fingers, rather than fingernails, on ukulele strings
Definitely. Whether the string is nylon, fluorocarbon, or wound, the sound is better IMO. I can’t bear the percussive sound of a fingernail on the string, so I keep a file handy, right next to the tuner, just in case I haven’t filed low enough.
 
"I keep my fingernails long, so they click when I play the Piano." (Joe Ely, Fingernails)

I was thinking about posting a video of that song, but I posted the James Taylor instead...so I'll post this now. :ROFLMAO:

Joe has been a legend in the Texas music scene since 1970, and you can find a bunch of versions of this song. My favorite is the opening track of his 1981 album Live Shots, recorded when he was touring as the opening act for The Clash's 1980 US tour. I wore the grooves off this elpee at the time, and this really will blow your hair back. Turn it up!

 
Whatever works for you. I use nails trimmed, mostly, like Segovia recommended as I studied classical guitar for awhile years ago. I keep them the same length for steel string guitar too.

No nails for bass though.
Can you describe your interpretation of Segovia's advice? Does the length of the nails change based on each individual's fingertip shape?
 
Can you describe your interpretation of Segovia's advice? Does the length of the nails change based on each individual's fingertip shape?
Mine are trimmed so I can barely see them with my palm facing me.

The shape may change as fingertips are different.

I do keep my index nail a little longer as I strum with it.

I am blessed as my nails are thick. My wife wishes hers were like them.
 
Thanks for the comparison. I can't see the fingernails on my strumming hand when the palm is facing me, but the nails are pretty long when viewed
from that side.
fingerpads.jpgfingernails.jpg
 
A few years ago, I'd get acrylics at the nail salon on thumb and pointer fingers. It was fun for a while, I could really get huge volume, banging out massive sounding chords, but eventually I found the tone harsh, with a big time clickety-clack sound, so I stopped that, and went back to shorter natural nails, and more fleshy fingertip pad playing, mostly thumb strumming, which is more warm and soothing sounding, to me.

When I watch Corey and Kalei on TUS videos, and other HI masters, I'm always amazed to see their super long nails (probably acrylic), especially on the thumb nails. It obviously works for them, finesse, but they often play much more chord melody style than I can ever hope to. On the other hand (no pun intended), there are other masters like Kimo Hussey, who seem to excel with short nails and fleshy strumming/picking. Just do what feels and sounds right to you!
 
+1!!!!! Times a million!!!!!

I'm pretty good at growing long, solid nails, but I HATE how they sound. Hate, hate, hate. So after keeping them long for like a year, I'm back to keeping them short, and using my fingertips.

There are definitely folks who use fingerpicks, especially for the thumb. Your pal and mine @4stringboy glues a felt pick to a traditional thumb pick (most of which he's cut off, leaving only enough to form a solid base to glue the felt to) to create a much gentler sound, but I don't remember him mentioning what the length of his other nails are, one way or the other.

As I've been typing this, I'm seeing other replies come in along the same lines, so I'll leave it there. I definitely concur with @scrambled_eggs that flourocarbons will work better with fingerpads for picking for most folks, but ymmv and all that. But in general, this is my principle for all things ukulele, and most things in life: do what you want. :ROFLMAO:

Having said all that, I've posted this before, but I always get a kick out of it: James Taylor's nail routine. When he started his YouTube channel with guitar tutorials, this was Lesson 1b, and as much fingerpicking as he does on steel-stringed guitars, it's a pretty elaborate routine, and also a delightfully endearing video. If you like JT at all, you'll like him even more after seeing this.


Zero nails for me - as a bass player it’s always been about the pads!
 
Zero nails for me - as a bass player it’s always been about the pads!

Ha! I should have thought of that! Simply from the sparkling tone, I'd have bet any amount of money that you're padding rather than fingernailing.

Like you, I'm very fond of the Uke Logic Soft Tension, and those really reward a gentler touch. I have some Aquila nylons that are much better for really banging on, nails and all, but that's no longer what I'm going after.

Thanks for letting us know!
 
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