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valde002
01-23-2017, 02:28 PM
I have been a newbie for 5 months now and have suddenly think I have come onto something:

That to get the best sound with the ukulele, you have to use more fingernails than fingers... Am I right? I get a huge difference with the Kamaka as compared to my Luna. The sound is so much more crisper with the nails (right hand). Am I perceiving this right or over-analysing?

Kyle23
01-23-2017, 03:08 PM
I personally use my nail most, but you'll learn to mix it up with both nail and the fingers. I love adding in down strums with the thumb in between using my nail to strum. Adds a nice touch.

Camsuke
01-23-2017, 03:36 PM
This video may be of interest.
http://ukuleleunderground.com/2017/01/ukulele-webcam-sessions-matt-pitch-perfect-nails/

SoloRule
01-23-2017, 04:10 PM
This video may be of interest.
http://ukuleleunderground.com/2017/01/ukulele-webcam-sessions-matt-pitch-perfect-nails/


Campbell,
This is very interesting thread as if someone heard our conversations on this topic yesterday!
Great video. Very informative! The only thing I got it right is the fretting nails. ;)

Booli
01-23-2017, 05:57 PM
Most of my technique is based upon using my natural nails. I have them about 2mm past the fingertip.

I have far more control over dynamics and articulation with my nails then I ever did solely with the flat, mushy flesh of my fingertips and I flat-out refuse to wear fake nails or attach painful plastic fingerpicks to my hands, which are like trying to play with gloves on my hand.

For me flatpicks are for guitar and felt picks are for OTHER folks.

You have to maintain your nails every single day to prevent them from splitting and/or chipping. Sometimes all it takes is a few passes with a curved diamond-grit metal nail file.

If you let them grow ragged they will catch on clothing or something else and get torn (ouch) and if you do not shape them properly, they will impede your playing rather than enhance it because the string does not pass along the leading edge of the nail smoothly It has to be ROUND without sharp, angular points for me, and usually follows the natural shape of my fingertip.

If I grow them longer than about 2mm, they get damaged by every day life. For both flamenco and Campanella inspired playing, fingernails are a must for me, otherwise without nails, my ukes sound like I have a wet rag damping the strings at the bridge.

YMMV and to each his own. There are no rules, but this is what I do. :)

Debussychopin
01-23-2017, 06:16 PM
I have been a newbie for 5 months now and have suddenly think I have come onto something:

That to get the best sound with the ukulele, you have to use more fingernails than fingers... Am I right? I get a huge difference with the Kamaka as compared to my Luna. The sound is so much more crisper with the nails (right hand). Am I perceiving this right or over-analysing?

You are absolutely correct. About the description of sound. However for best sound you'll find opposition in opinion.
I however agree with you on both accounts. I have fingernails filed to a certain length on my right hand.
Especially the C string, it won't sound ever non-flubby, without the application of nails.

actadh
01-23-2017, 06:21 PM
I abhor long nails and clip my nails as short as I can on both hands - pretty much no white shows. I always feel like my hands are dirty and that the nails are harboring germy crap when I have long nails, so I always kept them short even before I started playing the ukulele. Otherwise, I get obsessive compulsive about washing my hands.

I did maintain the suggested length of nail on the right hand for a year, but never again. Now I don't worry about the maintenance, but clip them about every five days.

I mostly fingerpick, but do have a few songs that I strum. I use both fingernails and the pads of my fingers. Even cut that short, there still is enough nail to hear a difference between using the nails of my right hand and not using them.

Booli
01-23-2017, 06:44 PM
This video may be of interest.
http://ukuleleunderground.com/2017/01/ukulele-webcam-sessions-matt-pitch-perfect-nails/
Yes, that video is a great intro for those just starting with nails. Thanks for sharing Campbell. :)

BraddaJ
01-23-2017, 07:01 PM
nails is the way to go, I grow out my thumb index and middle just enough to get a nice sound. Maintenance is key but you will learn that along the way.

kypfer
01-23-2017, 10:09 PM
Rob Mackillop https://robmackillop.net/ukulele/ is a protagonist of the "play with the fingertips" brigade and given the results he gets I can understand why.

I can see the advantage of this style of playing is that one never has to worry about nails being too long or too short ... just keep 'em trimmed - job done ;)

Having said all that, I've used my nails for guitar/ukulele/banjo for 50+ years and simply don't feel inclined to try and change now, despite the inconvenience of the occasional broken nail.

YMMV :music:

Rllink
01-25-2017, 03:13 AM
I try to let my fingernails grow and I try to keep them trimmed and shaped, but over time the strings wear them into odd shapes. I have that strumming technique where I wave the three fingers of my strumming hand up and down over the strings. My index fingernail on my strumming hand is almost always flat. I trim the edges to round it off sometimes. My middle fingernail gets a groove right in the middle of it and my ring finger wears on one side. Anyway, I just do the best I can with caring for them, and if I can get a little added something from them, so much the better I guess. But another aspect is that I do a lot of mechanic work, which has a whole different set of fingernail issues that I have to contend with as well.

Jim Yates
01-25-2017, 06:58 AM
I have very weak nails and have been going to Lilly's nails for 8 or 9 years now. I get acrylic gel nails on the index, bird and ring fingers of my right hand. I started doing this on the bird finger only for clawhammer banjo, but it made guitar fingerpicking unbalanced, so I added two more fingers. Susan, the person who does my nails, knows exactly how I like them, so about a millimeter is visible from the palm side.

valde002
01-25-2017, 10:03 AM
This video may be of interest.
http://ukuleleunderground.com/2017/01/ukulele-webcam-sessions-matt-pitch-perfect-nails/


Thanks for that. The sound coming from my playing is about 866% better now that I am aware of using both the fingerpads and the nails! Also playing around with where I strung and pick (at the neck)

robinboyd
01-25-2017, 10:58 AM
I practice martial arts, and I have to keep my nails short for safety. I know that my uke playing would sound better with a few longer fingernails, but I can still play using my pads, so that will have to do for me.

valde002
01-30-2017, 11:56 AM
I practice martial arts, and I have to keep my nails short for safety. I know that my uke playing would sound better with a few longer fingernails, but I can still play using my pads, so that will have to do for me.

I hear you. I work in the hospital and need to keep my nails trimmed too, for infection control. I recently have let my right thumb and first fingernail grow a little more though, but not too much more, just enough to get more of a sound.

kafkapenguin
01-30-2017, 05:20 PM
This video may be of interest.
http://ukuleleunderground.com/2017/01/ukulele-webcam-sessions-matt-pitch-perfect-nails/

I'm basically a thumb player but this video really opened my eyes! Thanks for posting.

cheers