Can you Play Bass with Long Nails? Top 3 Effective Tips!

Whether you’re switching from playing guitar to bass or just want to give up your long nails, It’s very obvious to ask whether or not I can play bass with long nails to get a nice-sounding tone?

Here’s the deal:

You could play bass with long nails and get the desired sounding tone but it required to make some serious adjustments in your playing technique. Longer nails allow you to brighten your sound with a nice boost in volume as compared to playing with fingertips.

Let’s get into some of the ways that will help you to play bass without giving up on your beautiful long nails.

How to Play Bass with Long Nails?

Here’re some of the effective strategies that I used back then to play my bass guitar with long fingernails:

1. Modify your Playing Technique

Instead of strumming with your long nails or even pick, try to fingerpick the strings of the bass. Although in the beginning, you require a bit of time to get used to the fingerpicking technique, but it allows you to pluck one string at a time and pull it out with the other two fingers.

play bass guitar

Also, if you want to use a pick, try holding it like a pencil, so your nails won’t get in the way of it and prevents unwanted hits on the strings. This way, you don’t have to rub your nails against the bass strings.

What about the Nails on the fretting hand:

While it is possible to play chords and fret notes with the flat part of your fingers but as you’re not directly playing with your fingertips, it’s a bit harder to get a clear-sounding, fullest tone from the bass. that’s why many bassists prefer to keep their nails short – at least on the fretting hand.

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2. Try Filing your Nails

Filling your nails is another great way to enhance your playing experience. If you’re just starting out, you can file your nails in a round shape that helps you to get a fuller tone while fingerpicking.

play bass with long nails

One more nail shape you might want to try is slopped nails or a share where your nails resemble the shape of the pick. You can choose the slopping angle as per your comfort, just make sure your nail is smooth and there are no hard edges.

Note: if you use your nails instead of a pick on heavy gauge strings, you might end up breaking your nails.

3. Use Alternate Tunings

This is another great option that can help you to play bass with long nails by allowing you to adjust the shape of the power chords, so they can accommodate your manicure.

For Ex: In a Drop D Tuning, you down-tune your instrument from E-A-D-G to D-A-D-G. It not only increases the tonal range of the bass but also allows you to for faster fingering. Here’s how you can achieve a Drop D bass tuning on your bass easily.

Disadvantages of Playing Bass with Long Nails

If you’re looking for a clearest possible sound from your bass guitar, you need to trim your nails upto fingertips. If you have a short fingernails and fretting the notes with your fingertips, it avoid damaging your fingers while making it much easier for you to switch between chords and move around the fretboard.

As I already mentioned, you need to make an adjustment in your technique. In the process, your nails are going to rub against the bass strings, and not only it is bad for your nails but also creates unwanted noises.

Can You Play Bass with Fake Nails?

You can play your bass by wearing fake acrylic nails. Although fake nails can allows you to get crisp and consistent notes while being much less clunky than a wearable finger picks, but it required a lot of practice to get used to with adjustment in your playing technique.

Final Thoughts on Playing Bass with Long Nails

Although mastering all the playing techniques I mentioned above will going to take a lot of work but It’s possible to play even a professional-level bass guitar while keeping your nails.

The only thing you need to decide is: What is more important for you, the Bass guitar or your Long Nails? Or do you like to get into the sweet spot to find a balance between them?

I want to know your opinion? Have you ever tried playing with long nails? What is your experience? What do you think, which technique is more efficient?

If you find this article helpful, please share it with your fellow bass players. Happy Music!

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