#1
So I have an old classical guitar [a Herald HL44] that I want to learn on. Do I really have to grow my nails long or is there a way around this?

I will grow my nails eventually, but I trimmed them recently.
Woffelz

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Ibanez RG2550Z/SRX430
Alesis Core 1
BIAS FX


I'm a student. I've got no time or space for an amp!
#3
If you're just starting to learn, you won't get much benefit from long nails anyway. It's not like long nails help you to play better, so I wouldn't worry about it.
#4
Long nails are for definition of attack and tone. In order to sound better you will have to grow them eventually. If you can afford it, I would strongly recommend buying the book Pumping Nylon. It's a great resource for any beginner and will always be used as a reference tool