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View Full Version : This seems ridiculous...fingernails?



TCK
01-07-2011, 05:24 PM
After being a nail biting grease monkey for the first 38 years of my life, I am now the manicure KING...a fact that finds my wife in complete and total awe (she cannot believe I am this silly...in spite of the fact that she lives with me). I now protect my nails like they are the crown jewels, and my eighth grade girls have noticed that they are getting pretty long (and they are totally disgusted)...
OK, on to the question. I have long nails (weird), but when I finger-pick, I feel I am either not hitting my attack just right, or I am not the shaper I think I am. I have my emory board at the ready to reshape, and have resorted to chewing pen caps when I am stressed- what shape am I after?
Pictures please-
Man this sounds totally lame....
Apologies if this is the dumbest question ever asked, I just need to fingerpick.
Cheers
TCK

OldePhart
01-07-2011, 05:30 PM
Heh, heh. Well, if it's lame you've at least got company. I'm going to be watching this thread in hopes of picking up some nail wisdom. I thought I was doing pretty good protecting my nails until I went out to put siding on the house weekend before last - destroyed everything but the thumbnail on my right hand. Starting over.

John

ksiegel
01-07-2011, 05:42 PM
I dunno... guitar or uke, I have always done finger picking with the fleshy parts of my fingers. never liked finger picks or thumb picks, and keeping hold of a flat pick has always been a problem for me. Fingernails? Don't need 'em.

-Kurt

Chris Tarman
01-07-2011, 05:58 PM
I'm having the same issue. I also have always used the fleshy parts of my fingers and thumb to both finger-pick guitar and to play bass. I can't really get the hang of using my nails to play uke, and frankly, the index nail REALLY hampers my bass-playing (which I actually make MONEY at occasionally!), so I have pretty much given up on growing that one. I've been growing my right thumb nail a bit, but I can't really say that I like using it, or that I use it well at all. I dunno... I might go back to using the meat instead. I know how to get a lot of different sounds with the fleshy bits, from 30 years of playing bass.

OldePhart
01-07-2011, 06:07 PM
and frankly, the index nail REALLY hampers my bass-playing
I can relate. I've found if I keep mine so it's just about a mm or so beyond the flesh I don't get the "clickies" on the bass and I can still use it on the uke. The way I use my thumb and index finger on the uke is pinching thumb and finger together so they kind of make a pick. By rocking my hand back and forth just a little I get the top of the index nail on the down strum and the top of the thumbnail on the up stroke. For the longest time I couldn't get that "index down, thumb up" thing figured out and then one night I was just stitting their strumming the mainland softly while I was watching the news and I found that without even thinking about it I had pinched thumb and finger together and was getting a really clear strum both directions that way. Then, the following weekend I destroyed all of my nails except the thumb. That's when I really realized how much difference the "index down, thumb up" strum was making. So, now I'm trying to get the *&^&*% nail to grow back. :(

John

Bosconian91
01-07-2011, 06:13 PM
I tried growing my nails too and it felt weird. I always keep my nails very short and so having long nails felt uncomfortable.

I know a guy who plays a 10 string guitar and he files his long finger nails at an angle.

JoshFromTallGrassUkes
01-07-2011, 08:01 PM
I have no advice to give on this, but I did want to share this quote:


"You start out playing the guitar to get girls and you wind up talking to middle age men about your fingernails."

Ed Gerhart (I think)

TCK
01-07-2011, 08:41 PM
I have no advice to give on this, but I did want to share this quote:


"You start out playing the guitar to get girls and you wind up talking to middle age men about your fingernails."

Ed Gerhart (I think)
Post of the month on the underground Josh- HILARIOUS

harpdog
01-08-2011, 12:42 AM
I think this is the shape you are after
http://l.thumbs.canstockphoto.com/canstock3151281.jpg

Oh, you meant the fingernails

dkcrown
01-08-2011, 01:52 AM
As a cabinetmaker my nails are constantly breaking, chipping and splitting. On an earlier thread started by the wicked one, sweetwaterblue recommended a polish product called Hard as Nails. It works. I use it on my thumb and index finger. Although after three weeks I did break the nail on my index finger at work and had to start over. I thought I was going to cry! LOL.

Mim
01-08-2011, 02:23 AM
I need to get the Hard As Nails. I am a rabid nail biter, but have resorted to only biting one hand. But the ironic thing is, the time I break the most nails... is when I am setting up ukes! Ahhhhhhh! So frustrating!

But like you, I feel like I could use some shaping help! So I am glad you asked! I am a girl, but have NO manicure skills... I mow the grass, make retaining walls, hang 8 foot uke hangers by myself... but when it comes to manicures I am lost!

Ukuleleblues
01-08-2011, 03:43 AM
I have no advice to give on this, but I did want to share this quote:


"You start out playing the guitar to get girls and you wind up talking to middle age men about your fingernails."

Ed Gerhart (I think)

Funny!!

Many years ago (30) I was a Heavy equipment mechanic. Always had bead up fingers and black and blue nails in various stagies of growing in. Now I now wear gloves when I work outside. I see now the mechanics wear gloves when they work.

cheekmeat
01-08-2011, 04:42 AM
I use my nails quite a bit. I don't keep them long. I was forever breaking them either doing stupid crap or playing guitar. I started filing them down to where they are just past the fingertips. I use those metal Revlon "emeryl" files (the compact one with the pointy end) with two sides of courseness because I read somewhere that emery boards can weaken your nails, and the metal file feels like more of a tool anyway.
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/219OdharKuL._SL500_AA300_.jpg
After using the file, I "polish" them up with some 600-800 grit sandpaper. I'd share a picture, but I've been playing a lot of guitar, and my atrocious technique makes them look like vermin have been gnawing on them while I sleep.

Tudorp
01-08-2011, 05:12 AM
I pick with the fleashy part too, with the exception of my pinky. It is longer than the rest for that reason. It is mainly because my arthritis issue, that I can't get my pinky around to the string in time without the extra length from the nail. So, it just works better than not having it. By the way, I have also been a grease monkey all my life (restoring and building hot rods for many years), and my daughter also thinks my nail is gross, and weird.. But, it works for me..

I will try and snap a pic in a bit. I have it "odd" shaped a bit..

philxbx
01-08-2011, 05:14 AM
I've noticed in a few of Ken Middleton's vids that he has long nails, and uses them to pick. Maybe he'll have some answers for you?

Have a look at this...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfeGzj1KsLw&feature=related

Tudorp
01-08-2011, 05:23 AM
Here ya go. From a fingernail thread I started long time ago.. This is my "freaky" pinky (as my daughter calls it)

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs152.snc4/36957_140505439298588_100000173975723_418222_27797 76_n.jpg

SweetWaterBlue
01-08-2011, 05:37 AM
As a cabinetmaker my nails are constantly breaking, chipping and splitting. On an earlier thread started by the wicked one, sweetwaterblue recommended a polish product called Hard as Nails. It works. I use it on my thumb and index finger. Although after three weeks I did break the nail on my index finger at work and had to start over. I thought I was going to cry! LOL.

I had some great nails going, but a few weeks of carpentry, plumbing and various other work around the house totally destroyed them - Hard as Nails, or not. I am currently in the re-growing phase (again). Thank heavens for super glue and tissue paper.

SimplyLuo
01-08-2011, 07:21 AM
Hi everyone,
I'm pretty obsessive about my fingernails. They are crucial to my fingerstyle guitar tone. I've learned a bit about nail care from classical guitarists, hopefully I can help a little. here's what's worked best for me:
Always file your nails, never clip them. Clipping weakens the nail. Glass nail files or the metal-dust things (like the Revlon files) are ideal.
http://tinyurl.com/3xtqc7z <-Click for a very informative ebook called Pumping Nylon by Scott Tennant. He goes into detail on nail-care on page 30. I use shape #3. Optichero told me that he does the same (http://youtube.com/optichero). The idea is to ramp your nail so that the string slides across as much nail as possible for a fuller tone. I like to keep my nails short enough that I can play with either a combination of flesh and nail or nail only. The pluck starts with the flesh of the fingertip, and the nail catches it to add clarity to the tone.

After filing, I use a product called MicroMesh to smooth the nail edge (you can buy it here http://www.stringsbymail.com/store/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=2_408). Fine grit sandpaper will work for this, too. The smoother the nail edge, the smoother the string release and the fuller the tone. If the nail isn't completely smooth, the tone will be kind of grating. Micromesh goes up to grade 12000, which gives a nice glass-like surface. Also, the nail won't break as easily since there are no jagged edges for the strings to catch.

Here are two of my recordings for some before-after samples. Guitar only, I'm still terrible at the ukulele :(
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeN6oLgu1xI 12000, very smooth
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8_PZz9Gbek 4000, relatively smooth

As you can see, the smoother the nail, the warmer the tone

that was so long, sorry..

lozarkman
01-08-2011, 07:57 AM
Interesting that Aldrine Guerro who has always used his thumb nail (long) for picking recently broke it and went to a thumb pick and has a recent Uke Minutes on shaping a thumb pick. Actually I like the thumb pick as well. But on the fingernails, I am ambivalent. In the winter time it is not so bad, I can keep them a reasonable length, but spring, summer, fall are really difficult, as I work outside a lot and always catching them. I do occasionally use the Fred Kelley freedom picks from Elderly which are shaped very much like your fingernail and extend just perfectly for catching the strings. And on one thread, Ken Middleton did comment that the nails were an important element to getting the picking effects he does, and the smoother the nail the better. I think each person just has to find his/her own finger picking style and then concentrate on getting done what works for you. Lozark

Ken Swagger
01-08-2011, 08:48 AM
Haha this thread is great. My girlfriend thinks I'm a freak because of my nails too. I mainly keep my index long-ish for volume and tone when I'm strumming. If its too long it ends up breaking and too short I get a damp sound. I like a little nail on my right middle also and then the rest have to be short, especially my thumb or it seems to snag the strings all the time. I'm really freaky about this and if I have a show coming up I get really protective of my nails. My old band did a few day tour and my nail broke before our last show. Being a little drunk and high on adrenaline, I ended up overcompensating by digging in hard with my finger and afterwards realized I'd ripped it open and bled all over the place. There's still blood spattered inside the sound hole of my old uke.

Dane
01-08-2011, 09:02 AM
Making an ultimate nail thread http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?40565-Fingernails-the-end-all-for-nail-questions&p=573462#post573462

itsme
01-08-2011, 09:34 AM
Glass nail files or the metal-dust things (like the Revlon files) are ideal.
I'll second the glass files, also known as crystal files. While you can find fancy ones in a suede sheath aimed at classical guitarists for $10+, I like the "Ruby Stone" you can find at beauty supply stores (or even amazon) for <$2. They're pink... get over it.

They do a much better job and are very gentle on your nails. They don't wear out but they do clog up over time as nail debris gets stuck in the nooks and crannies and become less effective. All you have to do is soak in a little warm soapy water, scrub with an old toothbrush and they're good as new again.

A word of caution... they will break if you drop them on a hard surface. Been there, done that. :p

OldePhart
01-08-2011, 10:16 AM
There's still blood spattered inside the sound hole of my old uke.

Reminds me of the time a guy in our band didn't realize that he'd broken open an old cut and slung blood all over the place playing his djembe... Sometimes you just have to put a little of yourself into the music - LOL

John

Dane
01-08-2011, 11:21 AM
My ohana has some of my blood in it

Chris Tarman
01-08-2011, 12:27 PM
I have no advice to give on this, but I did want to share this quote:


"You start out playing the guitar to get girls and you wind up talking to middle age men about your fingernails."

Ed Gerhart (I think)

That is the most awesome thing I've read in ages!

Chris Tarman
01-08-2011, 12:39 PM
Reminds me of the time a guy in our band didn't realize that he'd broken open an old cut and slung blood all over the place playing his djembe... Sometimes you just have to put a little of yourself into the music - LOL

John

I saw The Who in Boulder Colorado in '89, on their 25th anniversary tour. A few nights later (in Seattle, I believe), Townsend was doing his "windmill" thing, and stuck the whammy bar of his black Schecter custom Tele THROUGH his hand. THROUGH his hand. I'll say it one more time. THROUGH his FREAKING hand! Amazingly, he didn't hit any bones, or important nerves or arteries. I read an interview with him where he said he didn't even feel it, he just suddenly couldn't move his arm through the rest of the swing, and looked down and saw blood and thought "What is THAT??" And I thought "Man, that is the coolest thing ever! LONG LIVE ROCK!!!!!!"

fromthee2me
01-08-2011, 04:43 PM
My experience with the "hard as nails" product by Sally Hansen (made in the USA) is that it appears to be a clear varnish, and it comes off partially (after you have let it dry) when you play . There could well be some chemical process taking place, as it made my nails (index and middle finger) flake at the end. The ramping part is something new that I have just read, and will give a try. My music teacher swears by superglue, and I must admit that long nails on a man somehow don't look right to me either, but they make the uke sound nice and bright. FWIW

OldePhart
01-09-2011, 01:35 PM
I've had good luck with the Hard as Nails and I don't have any problem with it coming off as I play as long as I wait until the smell has gone away before I play. I.e. it will feel to the touch like it is dry, but if you hold your fingernail to your nose and can smell the "paint" smell it is not yet cured. If I wait until I can't smell the paint smell when I hold my finger under my nose then it does not come off at all while playing.

I've also found that I can't do an "over application" (i.e. a new coat on top of the old) more than once or it will begin flaking as fromthee2me describes. So, I try to make it a habit to do my nails once a week and remove the old before applying a fresh coat.

Gosh, I feel like such a dweeb; a fifty-something guy discussing how he does his nails! LOL

John

TCK
01-09-2011, 02:15 PM
Thanks gang- tons of great information here, and even more laughs. Chris- that Townsend bit is incredible...long live rock!
Back to filing for me

ichadwick
01-10-2011, 01:23 AM
I have played guitar 45+ years, and uke 3 years. I cut my nails to the quick and never use them for picking. I've used plastic and metal fingerpicks for some types of guitar music, but on steel-stringed instruments. On nylon I always use my fingertips. I find them a lot more expressive than nails or fingerpicks. Plus I never have to worry about them catching, breaking, damaging strings, scratching the instrument or getting chipped.

Hippie Dribble
01-10-2011, 01:38 AM
I have played guitar 45+ years, and uke 3 years. I cut my nails to the quick and never use them for picking. I've used plastic and metal fingerpicks for some types of guitar music, but on steel-stringed instruments. On nylon I always use my fingertips. I find them a lot more expressive than nails or fingerpicks. Plus I never have to worry about them catching, breaking, damaging strings, scratching the instrument or getting chipped.

:agree:

Yep, I agree with Ian. It comes down to feeling more in control of the instrument, "closer" to it if you will, and for me, results in more expressive playing. But I guess we're all different!

Dane
01-10-2011, 03:33 PM
I find them a lot more expressive than nails or fingerpicks. Plus I never have to worry about them catching, breaking, damaging strings, scratching the instrument or getting chipped.

I disagree with this, I think that having the option of more muted notes or more clear notes makes it MORE expressive. To me playing only flesh it sounds muddy and lazy, but when the two are mixed, that is when the expression happens. Also, I don't worry about any of the things you listed. Once you learn how to take care of your nails and how to shape them and they strengthen, none of the things you mentioned even cross my mind.


:agree:

Yep, I agree with Ian. It comes down to feeling more in control of the instrument, "closer" to it if you will, and for me, results in more expressive playing. But I guess we're all different!

I, and I'm sure many other nail players, hit the flesh of our fingers as well as the nails, even when the nail is hit, most of the time the flesh is hit first. So I don't see how this would distance you from the instrument at all.

Hippie Dribble
01-11-2011, 12:48 AM
I disagree with this, I think that having the option of more muted notes or more clear notes makes it MORE expressive. To me playing only flesh it sounds muddy and lazy, but when the two are mixed, that is when the expression happens. Also, I don't worry about any of the things you listed. Once you learn how to take care of your nails and how to shape them and they strengthen, none of the things you mentioned even cross my mind.
I, and I'm sure many other nail players, hit the flesh of our fingers as well as the nails, even when the nail is hit, most of the time the flesh is hit first. So I don't see how this would distance you from the instrument at all.

like I said, it works FOR ME. I was expressing an opinion about a personal preference for playing. No definitive statements about uke technique here. I've played guitar with picks for over 20 years. Got nothing against using picks or fingernails...for playing guitar, it's the pick that is more expressive for me, but for ukulele, I like to use the fingertips. To each their own. We each do what works for our own style don't we? Like Dylan said, most likely you go your way and I'll go mine.

Dane
01-11-2011, 11:02 AM
like I said, it works FOR ME. I was expressing an opinion about a personal preference for playing. No definitive statements about uke technique here. I've played guitar with picks for over 20 years. Got nothing against using picks or fingernails...for playing guitar, it's the pick that is more expressive for me, but for ukulele, I like to use the fingertips. To each their own. We each do what works for our own style don't we? Like Dylan said, most likely you go your way and I'll go mine.

Yes and I was expressing my opinion. We are friends here, why are so many people treating conversations as if they are attacks?