How To Play Classical Guitar Without Nails

Ever wanted to learn how to play classical guitar without nails? If so, then today is your lucky day! The traditional way classical guitarists play guitar is by using their finger nails. Now back in the day when I was in school studying classical guitar, instead of going to the salon, I saw some guitarists actually glue modified ping pong balls to the existing nail bed because some of them just couldn’t grow nails properly.

Have you ever wondered if it was possible to play without nails? Well it is possible. It’s all about a traditional technique but is there room for an alternate modern approach? Yes. It might not be accepted by traditional classical guitarists but that’s ok. In this video, classical guitarist Brandon Acker gives some tips on playing without fingers nails. Just for your own knowledge, the background music in this clip is “Ground in C minor” by William Croft.

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Brandon Acker: Classical Guitarist – Music Educator

At 4:34 in the video he talks about using the flesh part of the finger to stroke the string with. It appears that when he plays with no nail, the sound is warmer. When he plays with his nails, the sound has a brighter tone.

In addition to being a classical guitarist, Brandon is also a specialist on early plucked instruments. These include but are not limited to… lute, archlute, theorbo and baroque guitar. In 2020, Brandon and his wife opened a new online music school, visit During the Covid pandemic, his educational endeavors enabled students to learn online that were located in differing countries. This online portal allowed for $2,000 to be raised for music charities. This is an admirable accomplishment!

Follow Brandon on his Facebook page, Catch some more of his tutorials on his YouTube channel at You can see him play other instruments mentioned above.

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Contents Of Video

0:00 Introduction

1:27 History of no nail playing

3:40 How to play with nails

4:34 How to play without nails

6:17 No nail performance

7:42 The guitar I’m using

8:05 Nail vs. Flesh comparison #1 9:12 Nail vs. Flesh comparison #2

10:00 Nail vs. Flesh comparison #3

12:13 Tremolo without nails?

13:01 My take-aways

16:45 Send-off

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