Home Forums Student Challenges Fingernails?

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    All the great ukulele players I’m seeing have long nails on their strumming hands. Can we get some information about fingernails and the ukulele. I don’t see this with guitar or banjo pickers. Banjo pickers use picks that fit on their fingers. Would finger picks work or is there something special about the ukulele that requires nails?

    • This topic was modified 5 years, 5 months ago by cwaggoncwaggon.

    Hey Cwaggon,

    Aldrine answered your question in this week’s Thursday Live Lesson. You can check out his answer here:

    He goes over your question right at the end of the lesson, about 57 mins in. Hope this helps!

    -Kira (UU Staff)


    Classical guitar players have the long fingernails as well. When I took classical guitar lessons (a loooooooong time ago), half a class was spent on fingernails, shaping, length and care. I hadn’t expected that.


    Aloha cwaggon!
    We answered your question on this week’s Thursday live lesson. We also briefly touched up on it again on the live help afterwards.
    Basically uke players use their nail as a “built in” pick. We need long nails to do techniques such as tremolo. Without the nail, we would have to use picks and since the uke is a nylon stringed instrument, it doesn’t quite sound right with picks. We use them when necessary (kind of like how I’ve been using a thumbpick lately since I broke my thumb nail)


    How can I make my nails harder? They tend to break easy.


    @wpeterson57 This website might be useful for you.

    The too long didn’t read version is to make sure you stay hydrated and keep your nails hydrated. Soaking your nails in water or using harsh shampoo will make your nails more brittle, especially if you live in a low-humidity environment. Keeping your nails relatively short, properly filing your nails, and using moisturizing lotion will help. Some people, especially professionals, will use nail gelatin or fake nails if they have a show and their nails broke but I wouldn’t recommend doing this on a regular basis because every time you remove the gelatin or fake nails you make your nails more brittle.

    If you want to get super technical into maximizing your nails you can look up what classical guitarists do. I’ve attached a very detailed article/video on how some classical guitarists shape their nails.

    Fingernail Lesson for Classical Guitar

    For me personally, I only use my thumbnail and I make a point to keep my nail relatively short compared to Aldrine (a little bit longer than the image below). I find that if my nail is too short I can’t get a proper tremolo with my thumb, but if my nail is as long as Aldrine’s it will break because of how low the humidity is here in California.

    In case you are curious I really look up to Kalei Gamiao and have attached a video of him using a thumb tremolo.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 2 months ago by marcgmarcg.
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