Can You Play the Guitar With Gel Nails?


Plucking the guitar strings with your natural nails will likely get them broken or ruined especially if you have soft or weak fingernails. But what other choice do you have if you do not want to use a picker? Will fixing gel nails make it easier? Can you play the guitar with gel nails?

Yes, you can play the guitar with gel nails. As long as the gel nails are not too long, they will not affect how you play the guitar. Some even talk about how they can play the guitar with long gel nails, but this is not for everyone, especially beginners.

How You Can Play the Guitar With Gel Nails

Even though gel nails might not be as strong as other fake nails, here are some tips that will help your gel nails last longer while using them on the guitar

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As your nail grows, the space that appears between your natural and fake nails is the backfill. And as time goes on, the area keeps getting more extensive, and if you are not careful, the fake nails can get hooked on the string while playing, tearing off the nails.

So, to avoid injury or spoiling your strings, you should fix a new backfill to make it last for more weeks. Or you can file the bottom’s edge, so it rhymes with your natural nail. That way, you will not get interrupted by your gel,

File Regularly

Despite having your nails done at the salon, you should know how to file the nails yourself. This means you should have your nails kit at home or with your guitar kit. Then, you can watch videos on how to trim nails and shape them. 

As your natural nails grow, you will need to trim the nails so that they do not become too long to use with the guitar.  And filing it involves trimming it to the right and shape. Because if you are used to almond-shaped nails, and you file your nails to block-shaped, you might find it challenging to play well with them.

Go for the Right Shape

As a guitarist, considering your fret finger angle, you should pay attention to the length of your nails and the shape of the nails. Also, the shape of the nails can sometimes determine their height and cause one part of the nails to be caught up in the strings.

The almond shape is one of the most common nail shapes guitarists go for, mainly because it mimics a picker’s shape and curves. And the next most common shape is the block nails because of their flat edges and unlikeliness of getting caught between the strings.    

Go for a Gel Manicure

A gel manicure involves using a U.V. light ray on the shellac. This might not last more than a few hours after playing, but it is a cheap and fast way to thicken and protect your gel nails. 

Fix Acrylic Nails First

Many guitarists prefer acrylic nails over gel nails because they are harder and last longer. But if you like the natural look gel nails give, you can fix an acrylic nail and apply gel polish to it. Adding the gel polish can also act as extra protection for the nails.

Try Dip Powder Manicure

The dip powder manicure uses powdered glue to create a long-lasting nail. The process involves fixing gel nails, and after applying the gel polish, you dip your hand in a jar of powder, or the powder is sprinkled on your nails.

This method is preferable because it causes more minor ridges on your nails than the acrylic nails, and you do not need extra equipment like the U.V. lamp. Also, it is very fashionable, and you can choose any powder color you want.

However, this method is not as hygienic as the others, and you might not find it in eco-friendly salons. 

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Last updated on November 14, 2022 9:12 pm

Can My Gel Nails Break if I Play the Guitar With Them?

Even the best nail stylist in the world can not assure you that your fake nails will not break; they can just assure you of long-lasting nails. Though your nail breaking might not happen often, it is best to always be with your nail kit, especially when you have a  performance.

Also, you can reduce the chances of such an experience by taking the maintenance steps stated above.

What Type of Gel Nails Can You Play the Guitar With, Long or Short?

The length of your nails is an essential factor in guitar playing. And some believe that having longer nails on your strumming hand makes it easier to play some styles. For instance, if you play with a classical guitar, you will find it easier to play fingerstyle if you are on long fingernails.

Woman's hand with long nails clamps strings on guitar fretboard

Also, if you are picking the nylon strings on your classical guitar, it is best to have long nails so you can pick it with your fingers’ pads, brightening the guitar’s tone and giving out an excellent volume.

But everyone’s preference differs, and some prefer different lengths on their picking and fretting fingers. So, try out both and see which size is more suitable for you on both hands.

If you are just trying out gel or fake nails, you should start with 2 to 3 millimeters; then, as it grows out, you can note if you feel uncomfortable or more comfortable with the long nails. Then, you can trim and experiment with nail shapes too.

And whether you prefer long or short nails, it is best to go for fake nails because natural nails are usually not strong enough for the guitar strings. And if you keep using them, you might ruin your nails and get injured in the process

Pros and Cons of Playing With Gel Nails

It protects your natural nails from getting ruined by the guitar stringsYou spend time going for a manicure repair every time you play
You can play some strings better because of the nail’s strengthYou can easily get injured if care is not taken
Improves your nails’ aesthetics 


It is not only possible to play the guitar with gel nails, but it is also recommended that you play the guitar with it or any other type of fake nail. But remember that with fake nails, you should pay attention to the length and shape because the comfort of using fake nails to play guitar relies on these factors.

Sourav Biswas

Music is my life and I love to play guitar so much. It's been a part of me for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a musical family, and my parents were always supportive of my passion for music. I am also a freelance writer who has been writing for over 10 years. I have written for both online and offline publications, including Amazon and Medium.

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