I have played guitar and bass (classical and jazz) but my main instrument is the guitar. I lost touch with the upright bass many years ago and want to pick it up again. I also recently picked up the classical guitar and have been playing seriously for the past 4 years of so.

Here is the issue classical requires some right hand nail growth and proper maintenance for good tone and technique. Upright jazz bass is mostly played pizzicato with the right hand. Playing Bass (with some enthusiasm) will lead to broken right hand nails.

Is there anyone else out there who has gone down this path and had some success at both instruments? Any advice on managing both is appreciated.

  • It is possible to play CG without nails. Check out Rob McKillop for instance. It's not for everyone but it's also not uncommon. .
    – PeterJ
    Dec 31, 2019 at 12:08

2 Answers 2


Jazz bass pizz. is normally played more by the side of the finger and so you might be able to avoid your long fingernails with some practice. Long nails would be more of a problem for classical double bass pizz. than for jazz bass.

  • Yes, I do recall that about the technique. But it still managed to break the index nail often. May be a lost cause. But thanks
    – user50691
    Jun 1, 2018 at 10:46

One factor is proper maintenance of the right hand. The nails become an issue for sure if they are allowed to grow too long. Despite the use of nails on classical guitar they are not usually grown very long. Most books show the nails flush with the ends of the finger or just 1mm beyond. The string is actually plucked from the finger pad and nail together and long nails are not only not required but actually detrimental to proper technique. I am not sure if a shorter nail would would allow compatibility with classical pizzicato but the combination of a short well groomed nail and jazz pizz might avoid this issue altogether. I would guess that someone (e.g. me) serious about playing both would have to be vigilant about keeping the growth of the nails in check and adhering to proper technique on both instruments.

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