Emilio_K wrote:...One thing to consider is that achieving good tone with nails on a lute is really not possible in my experience. Nails cause the course to not be sounded in unison and to be brash and banjo-like. I definitely had to focus on lute for several months then regrow my nails for guitar when I switched back to it...
I will agree with you that it is next to impossible to get a good tone with nails using modern
guitar technique, modern nail shape and length. However, I do believe it is not absolutely "impossible'. With some experimentation and modification to the nail length and shape and an adjustment to the angle of attack to the courses a very good warm tone is achievable.
I've played lute nearly as long as I have the guitar so have developed a technique that works quite well for both. I found, for me, that a relative short nail, just peeking over the tips of my fingers, contoured to the exact shape of my fingertips, with a more oblique stroke attack (keeping in mind to strike between the two strings of each course) allows me to get a warm very acceptable tone on the lute and by moving my hand a tiny bit into the traditional guitar hand position get a good tone out of the guitar as well. This might not work for everyone but in my case it is a good solution.
One clarification, I do not play with the customary "thumb under" technique as most renaissance lute players do these days (neither did the lutenists during the renaissance all play thumb under but that is a different discussion...and many also played with nails, also another discussion). My right hand position is much more like that used by Baroque lute players with the thumb slightly forward.