I recently got a guitar and can't seem to hold down a string without touching another. With the shape of my finger, it doesn't feel possible. Will my nail recede as I practice or am I doomed?

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    Please be more specific about the guitar - classical, acoustic, electric...?
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 21, 2023 at 14:08
  • I'm not a guitarist, so maybe one can confirm, but I suspect when you need to, for example, fret one string and also play the next highest string open, you might angle your hand so the finger approaches the fret "from behind," rather than parallel, letting you press the string down firmly without also contacting the adjacent string. Commented Aug 21, 2023 at 16:44

1 Answer 1


Disclaimer: talking about classical guitar below. Other types might require different advice.

You should make your left-hand nails as short as possible. Cut, clip or file them as much as possible without feeling pain. Finger shape doesn't matter, but if your fingers are really large, you will be inconvenienced. And if they are really really large (unlikely), you are doomed.

I usually file my nails almost every day. If I don't play for many days in a row and the nails manage to grow long, I cut them and then file them.

You don't need your nails to recede, you only need them short enough so they don't get in the way.

  • I agree. I expect the nail is causing the OP to rotate (under-rotate?) the finger.
    – Yorik
    Commented Aug 22, 2023 at 20:10
  • It's an electric guitar but yep, cutting that little bit of white off has definitely made it easier. I guess I'll have short nails from now on.
    – KL3415
    Commented Aug 23, 2023 at 6:56

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