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View Full Version : Pick, Artificial Nails, Instructions?



furashgf
12-06-2012, 06:10 AM
I currently use a very soft/thin pick with my ukulele (which has acoustic/normal strings). I'm okay with the sound, but I've been told that nails sound better AND you can do finger-picking much easier:

1. does it make enough difference to an average person whether I use a pick? I can't really tell the sound difference? I have clear pickguard material so either way I won't be damaging the ukulele top.
2. if it does, what EXACTLY to I tell the nail person (e.g, X type of fake nails on which fingers to a length of Z)
3. does #2 create nails that make it difficult to use keybords, etc. 99% of my job is keybording.

Thank you.

ghardy
12-06-2012, 06:17 AM
I use my real nails. It's gross, I know, but that way they won't fall off ;)

Typing is a little different, depending on how long you grow them, but you'll get used to it. I'd recommend growing them out and stopping them when either a) they are a good length for playing (a few millimeters), or b) they interfere with your typing

Lori
12-06-2012, 06:33 AM
I keep my right hand nails at about 1/8 inch or 3mm. That does not interfere with typing at all. Left hand nails are kept as short as I can comfortably trim them. If you can use your real nails, it will be less trouble, and healthier for your nail bed. There are several strumming techniques that you can't do with a pick, so I encourage you to use your fingers. If you play with a pick, and you lose it, it can be a drag, so it is nice to be independent of that accessory.

–Lori

strumsilly
12-06-2012, 06:43 AM
I've been playing so much my right hand index fingernail is completely worn, and cuticle is pretty sore too. I have resorted to sometimes using the middle finger or thumb for strumming, or a felt pick, which I find awkward to hold. would painting the fingernail with a clear polish make it harder?. the stuff smells so bad it can't be too good for you though. thoughts?

Bill Mc
12-06-2012, 06:59 AM
I've been playing so much my right hand index fingernail is completely worn, and cuticle is pretty sore too. I have resorted to sometimes using the middle finger or thumb for strumming, or a felt pick, which I find awkward to hold. would painting the fingernail with a clear polish make it harder?. the stuff smells so bad it can't be too good for you though. thoughts?

I experience the same issue with the index fingernail so I alternate between playing with a pick and strumming and often incorporating both - play melody with the pick and strum with the ring and middle fingers. With lots of free time I can play for hours at a time especially when learning something new. Having played the classical guitar since the age of eighteen I'll never get used to a note picked that sounds more fleshy than clear. No nail polish for me as I won't chance any infections using that crap. And to the op - play to make yourself happy and don't be afraid to try a variety of techniques. No matter what the ukulele police say.

23skidoo
12-06-2012, 08:50 AM
My nails are incredibly brittle and break very easily. As a guitarist, I tried most everything through the years to keep them long enough for articulated finger picking with no success. When I picked up the ukulele a couple of years ago, I really wanted nails to get that crisp clear attack, so I redoubled my efforts to get my nails to any consistent length for any period of time. I didn't have any more luck than I did in previous years.

I tried a couple of different types of fingerpicks and they just didn't work for me. I work with my hands almost daily and beat them up pretty badly, so I wasn't about to pay for professionally applied artificial nails that I'd shred within 48 hours, so I picked up some of the drug store artificial nails like these (http://www.amazon.com/Kiss-Full-Cover-Nails-Active/dp/B000QM7VSG/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1354822845&sr=8-7&keywords=artificial+nail+kiss).

I love them. At around $5.00 a pop, the box of 100 lasts for a couple of months (though I only use 4 of the possible 10 sizes). It took a bit of finagling to get the length and shape right, but I'm pretty happy with the results - the tone is pretty nice and I've found a length the is long enough for the ukulele but short enough for steel string guitar. I carry superglue in my ukulele case - they do tend to pop off unpredictably.... but they stay on for days at a time.... if I know I'm going to be playing a lot, or with others, I just pop them off myself and reapply some glue.

I know it's not the ideal solution and this probably makes some purists shudder, but it works for me. If you pay careful attention to filing the underside of the nail, you can experiment and really get a pleasant tone. The only downside is that they are this creepy zombie/corpse white color.... I tried painting them black, at my wife's suggestion... thought punk-rock would be better than zombie, but have ended up just dealing with the corpse nails.

EDIT- typing is no problem.... as far as shape - I looked at several classical guitar websites and found a wide variety of opinions. I experimented and ended up taking a little from here and a little from there. I found the information in the book 'Pumping Nylon' especially helpful.... I think there may be a YouTube video taken from the accompanying DVD with the author showing his take on nail shape.... EDIT - here's the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCoSL-_oL7I)..

anthonyg
12-06-2012, 09:59 AM
I'm a picker and I have 3 nails on my picking hand reenforced. To start with though you may not NEED artificial nails at all. You have to let them grow to start with and they may be strong enough on their own. Your fretting hand nails stay short. In fact quite short or you will start wearing the fingerboard.

The picking fingernails don't need to be long at all. If you can see them 1 or 2 mm past the finger then that's enough. Sometimes I let them get longer but that's me being too lazy to file them all the time. We are not talking about long fashion fingernails. That's TOO long. My thumbnail doesn't require reenforcement. Its strong enough on its own. My little fingernail doesn't need reenforcement. I don't use it. I just have 3 fingernails (middle 3) reenforced with acrylic. There aren't artificial nails straight up. They just paint the acrylic on top of your existing nail making them thick and strong, not longer. This does allow your fingernails to grow long without breaking but you should file them regularly to stop them getting too long.

So firstly just let a few of your nails grow on your picking hand and see if they are strong enough anyway. Classical string aren't as rough on your fingernails as steel strings.

Anthony

Pundabaya
12-06-2012, 02:05 PM
I grew my nails, they were fine, looked a bit weird having three long nails. Then I managed to break them all in one go. (tripped, grabbed the concrete wall next to me) so cut them all off. And discovered that I prefer to pick with the fleshy part of my finger. Go figure.

hippowong
12-06-2012, 04:50 PM
I had this same exact problem because I'm OCD and I bite my nails. I think there is a lot of benefit to using your real nails then a pick or artificial nails (which I never tried before). The reason is because with real nails you can really feel the subtleties of how you strum and approach the string for the best sound. Plus for complex fingerpicking or roll strums you'll need all your digits.

Although Herb Ohta has ridiculous long nails, I don't think you really need to have such long fingernails to produce a fairly nice strong sound with your nail. At first I just tried to grow a little bite on my thumb and index finger. These two fingers you'll use the most. Even if they have a little white they'll hit the string and the meat of your finger to give you a nicer sound. Then I started growing my middle and then my ring. The more and more you use all your fingers to strum or roll, you'll find the use for the longer fingernails and adapt to them. I took me 9 months to finally adapt to having all my finger nails long (long meaning about 2 mm)

Ben_H
12-06-2012, 07:55 PM
About two weeks before I first picked up a uke I managed to tear off the nail on my strumming index finger to about halfway down the nail bed. I've been using a local nailbar who will fit a false nail and blend it in for 3 in about 15 mins. They last about 4 weeks and need trimming like a normal nail. If you ask them not to make it too thick it works very well. 7 months on and my real finger nail has grown back but is very soft.

I had a bizarre occurrence whilst driving on Wednesday though when completely out of the blue, the false nail pinged off in it's entirety. I still haven't found it though it must be in the car somewhere

furashgf
12-07-2012, 07:26 AM
Thanks all, but I still have some questions:
1. if you're using real or fake nails, what is the minimum length you can get away with? How far from your fingertip do they need to extend. Are they pointed or just your normal nail shape.
2. if you're using a pick, what's the difference between a think plastic pick and one of those hard felt picks? Is it just sound? Do they damage the strings?
3. What's up with the felt picks anyway. They're big, and very hard (they don't bend). How could they be good for a ukulele?

Thanks

anthonyg
12-07-2012, 12:06 PM
To really answer how long your nails need to be for finger picking your just going to have to grow them and try for yourself. Different people like different things but they don't have to be long at all.

Anthony

Ben_H
12-10-2012, 08:00 PM
To really answer how long your nails need to be for finger picking your just going to have to grow them and try for yourself. Different people like different things but they don't have to be long at all.

Anthony

Get a false nail fixed on so that it goes a couple of mm past the end of your finger tip at most then try playing. It will take a little time to get use to it. If you're not happy with that length then file it down a bit. If your happy leave it for a while and as the nailbed underneath grows you can experiment with a longer "nail", filing it back when you've had enough.

Phooto
12-10-2012, 10:33 PM
Where else can we find grown men discussing wearing false nails?

No, please don't answer that.

Skrik
12-12-2012, 02:10 AM
I use the flesh of my fingers. No nails for me.

Sh3ldon
12-12-2012, 04:47 AM
I'm a terrible nail biter so I use a pick (0.6-0.7) on the Uke, Mandolin and Acoustic Guitar but use my finger pads for the Bass Guitar.

But I really should try and let thiose nails grow:D

Newportlocal
12-12-2012, 05:20 AM
I use my real nails. Shorter on my fretting hand,and longer on my strumming/picking hand. This helped a lot. Should have bought one of these before I even started playing. They are really great!

http://www.amazon.com/Crystal-Glass-Inches-Carrying-Sassella/dp/B00283O7LK/ref=pd_sim_bt_1