The debate over long or short nails has raged since the dawn of the classical guitar and the right answer to this question is "It doesn't matter". But there are differences between the two styles and some things you should know before you decide which is right for you.
Some classical guitarists prefer to pluck the strings with the nails of their right hand while other guitarists prefer to keep their nails trimmed and to pluck the strings with the tips of their fingers. If you are a beginner classical guitarist you might be wondering which way you should play.You can start with no nails at all playing like that for one year or so.In that way you will find the right attack of the fingers.Only after that you could let them to grow.
Here are some insights about each way so you can make a decision as to which style is right for you.
The most important thing about playing classical guitar is the playing! It is true that the oscillating back and forth between long and short nails has an effect on the virtuosity but this switching also brings a benefit. The two different styles of playing produce two very different tones and this awareness of tone improves the ear and the ability to express yorself with the guitar. It helps you to better tap into the incredible range of tone the guitar is capable of.
Long nails give you a more vibrant tone, better volume and faster speed. But long nails can be a real maintenance headache. You have to keep them very carefully trimmed and watch out for their welfare in your normal life.
Short Nails do not produce as loud a volume, do not lend themselves to the fastest playing but do give you more control and more sensitivity in your playing. There is more of an emotional connection with the music because you literally touch the strings. Short nails are also easier to maintain and easier to integrate into the rest of your life.
So which should you use?
My recommendation for you is that if your intent is to be a professional classical guitarist you should cultivate your playing experimenting with both styles and see which you like.It can be a bit of a worry to have long, perfectly trimmed and manicured nails for playing yet always worry about breaking them. And breaking one nail seriously hampers, if not totally stops your ability to play. You will be running down to the local drug store to find a nail repair kit. Either way you go with your nails my biggest recommendation is that you not worry about it. The most important thing in classical guitar is the music and you should always think about what do you want your audience to hear because its a beautiful instrument and it is going to sound fantastic.