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Fingernails

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How long do you let your strumming/picking hand fingernails get. I just keep em going until the break or tear...adds snap to my fingerpicking.

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Always cut mine down as far as they will go, although my skin on my right thumb, and tips of my fingers is fairly calloused now. I don't like the feeling of long fingernails anyway, and they would probably split when I do my job.

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Yeah, I keep mine fairly short too. Even with finger picking I prefer the feel of soft fingertips over the feel of fingernails on the strings. I know the attack is not as sharp but so be it...

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I keep em short. Like the sound of skin on the strings plus I find it easier to play that way. Feels like my nails get caught on the strings.

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Guest rogerb

I keep my right hand nails a little more than 1/8" long. The nails on my left hand I cut as close as possible.

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I keep em short. Like the sound of skin on the strings plus I find it easier to play that way. Feels like my nails get caught on the strings.

 

Same here, but I grow them a little longer on my picking (right) hand. When I pick, I kinda get nail and skin. Left hand cut close.

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Prefer both hands with fingernails as short as reasonably possible.. If I need more attack I use a pick, if I want to stay with finger picking but need more volume , I use an acoustic amp.

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Check out Arlen Roth's guitar lessons. I don't know how the hell he playes with those nails. Long nails works for him

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I'd keep mine short enough to where you're not scratching the fretboard. An exception to the rule is if you have them long enough to where they curl then don't cut them. Although, if they are too too long play a kazoo or some other instrument that is less hand envolved.

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Left hand close, right hand 1/8 to 3/16. I hardly ever use a pick at least with the acoustics and maybe a little less than half the time with electrics.

 

One way to keep them long is here:

 

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I'm a Chet picker and I keep my nails just a little beyond my fingertips. My thumbnail is rounded off pretty symmetrical, and with the angle of my hand I can get a good attack, sans thumpick. For my other nails I tend to trim them flat and at an angle (longer on the pinky side of the hand than the thumb side). If I don't they tend to angle downward and get caught on the strings (I WISH I had naturally nice shaped nails so I could trim them all rounded as I have my thumbnail). The angled trim is described well by Scott Tennant in "Pumping Nylon."

 

Incidentally, I play as much bass as guitar and the angled approach to fingernails makes it possible for me to angle my hand so that I can play bass without getting the dreaded "nail click." Then, I can immediately pick up a guitar and get a good nail attack there. It is handy.

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Left hand very short; right hand slightly past the fingertip at shortest.

 

I think strength of the nails has a lot to do with genetics and diet. My work sometimes does result in a broken nail, so one simply adjusts.

 

Basically my nails are about what they'd be were I playing nylon strings instead of mostly steel.

 

Were I doing more Flamenco-type material I'd likely grow them a bit longer.

 

Flatpicking is an entirely different game. I do a little now when I'm playing with other folks mostly for volume, but it's not what I usually do.

 

m

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Never got the hang of picking with more than just my index fingernail. Basically replacing a flat pick. When I do play something that calls for picking, I just use my finger tips and that works well enough. Finger picking on a 12 string is a real challenge for me though.

I have a bad habit of biting my nails so they never get a chance to get very long

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On my picking hand I don't have much preference either for cut close or half-way to the tip but I rarely fingerpick and when I do I like to feel the strings with my fingers.

 

I actually prefer a little bit more nail on my fretting hand. If they are too short (like at the moment) it seems to hurt the tips somehow......no idea why.

 

P.

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Anyone remember "Charro" the cuchy cuchy girl? I saw her on Johnny Carson in the 70s. She is actually a trained classical guitarist. She performed on his show with fingernails about inch long. No kidding. She played a classical like no one's business, picking, strumming, flamenco, you name it. When she fretted she used the flesh of her fingertips and kind of suspended her nails vertically, it was amazing she could play so well with those long nails. Of course on her picking hand she put those nails to good use.

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Guest farnsbarns

This is something I've struggled with over the last few years. I always kept my index finger nail on my right hand slightly long as I use it like a pick. However, some years ago I took up disc golf and the longer index finger nail is a hindrance to the correct grip so I started cutting it off. For a couple of days after I can certainly feel the difference when playing guitar. For this reason I have sworn I'd get used to using a pick. I still haven't though, I just don't remember to use one. Anyone else have issues where guitar playing fingernails conflict with something else in life?

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....Anyone else have issues where guitar playing fingernails conflict with something else in life?

Not fingernails but when I started to play guitar one of my main hobbies was rock-climbing. Unfortunately the nature of the sport meant that my hands - nevermind just the fingertips - were constantly being abraded as if by sandpaper. Either I would never play guitar or I would have to give up climbing.

 

Fortunately (so to speak) soon after I got my first guitar, when we were out at a disused quarry / cliff-face, my main climbing partner had a very nasty fall when the top 60' of rock sheared from the cliff-face - taking with it all the 'protection' he had put in place - and he pendulum'd the resulting 120' drop and splatted into the rock-face, breaking several parts of his body in the process. He spent the following 17 weeks in hospital - Steve Austin-like, being re-constructed. He gave climbing one tester after he was released but gave it up for good. He'd lost "it" completely.

 

"That's all right; I've still got my guitar" (as Jimi said once upon a time).

 

P.

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Flamenco-length nails tend to get in the way of a computer keyboard.

 

Charo's technique is closer on the right hand to flamenco than classical - and one might question at what age she had formal training given that her age is in question regardless. A good player, though, although I don't think it's exactly classical playing in some ways since left hand fingerings have to be modified.

 

m

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My fingernails are jacked up. They tend to crack or get caught on things and bend in painful ways. The solution is to keep them short all of the time.

 

I finger pick with fingers. If I need a hard surface and don't have a pick I use the top of my middle finger's nail when I down strum.

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Some of this is off the top of my head, but my understanding is that until Segovia, nobody thought so much about standard stuff...

 

Again, off the top of my head, I recall he suggested nails roughly at the edge of the fingertips so they could be used or not, depending on the color one wished to make. Some classical guitarists apparently prefer playing only with the flesh of fingertips; some fewer with the nails alone.

 

I watched rather closely at a Carlos Montoya vid the other night and noted a similarity to the Segovia recommendation although Montoya, as expected for flamenco, is at times a bit by intent "flashy" in technique. Flamenco also has a technique called "golpe" a finger tap on the top of the guitar - which is why many flamenco guitars have one sort of a "pick guard" or another since both fingers and thumb may be used percussively.

 

m

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Yup. I think Segovia was one of the fingernail "pioneers" on classical. I think before Segovia most classical guitarists were using just the fingertips. Least that's what I heard.

 

Incidentally, Tommy Emmanuel apparently has nails that are too fragile to be used in steel string picking. Therefore, he does not use nails at all. Keeps 'em all short. I just can't imagine how he gets such a crisp attack with just the flesh of his fingertips. I know, I know, calluses. But geez, I play guitar, bass guitar, upright bass, all as much as I can. The calluses even on my left hand aren't enough to get a good attack if I were to pick with them. It's a mystery to me. I suppose part of Tommy's tone though comes from an aggressive attack. At least that's how it seems.

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There's a lot of ways to get an aggressive attack - and with an electric, some additional electronic ways to add to attack and decay as well.

 

I guess I should add that I do use thumb and fingerpicks or a flatpick on the 12-string and thumb and fingerpicks on the five-string banjo.

 

I noticed how Mother Maybelle played that big old Gibson with huge strings, and it seems to me she's playing it with almost identical right hand technique to how she played the autoharp. Thumb brushing the bass and then the thumb strumming down across the strings "flatly" and the fingers brushing upward.

 

Me, I prefer a bit of fingernail, but unless they get a bit long at which point I tend to hook the strings, I'm using pretty much the same right hand technique with steel string fingerpicking as I did playing the classical guitar.

 

m

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