Playing without fingernails?

roypoy

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First off I'm a total noob, have been playing a few weeks and I do pretty much nothing but play basic chords whenever I have time to pick up my uke. I grew out my fingernails at first on my right hand (advice from some beginner book by Randy Sproat I picked up). It worked well at first, but I can't stand having long fingernails and cut them recently, I'm wondering is it possible to play well with short nails if you build up finger strength? Right now my playing sounds like death (faint) using a combo of short nail/fingertip and have been reverting back to using thumb/pointer fingertips which sounds louder but inconsistent.
 

russ_buss

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i keep my nails very short all the time. however, not sure what you mean by finger strength for picking. you'd probably need more finger strength for the hand that frets the chords.
 

Dane

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I personally feel like I advance quicker with my nails cropped down as far as they get.
 

UkuLeLesReggAe

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i personal cant play without them, probably a mental thing for me... but i play like i jusat started.

i like picking though, cant pick without fingernails!
 

grappler

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i used to have a long thumb nail, but i cut mine off already. it took time to get used to but i like the feel of it better than having nails
 

HI@heart

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First off I'm a total noob, have been playing a few weeks and I do pretty much nothing but play basic chords whenever I have time to pick up my uke. I grew out my fingernails at first on my right hand (advice from some beginner book by Randy Sproat I picked up). It worked well at first, but I can't stand having long fingernails and cut them recently, I'm wondering is it possible to play well with short nails if you build up finger strength? Right now my playing sounds like death (faint) using a combo of short nail/fingertip and have been reverting back to using thumb/pointer fingertips which sounds louder but inconsistent.

I can't stand having long nails either so I keep 'em short. I don't pick (yet) but I say play how you're most comfortable for now. Otherwise you won't play as much :D Master the basics and follow your own path. Have fun!
 

Dane

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I pick with my fingers and no fingernails just fine. I like the sound of flesh on the strings better than a nail, it sounds prettier to me.
 

tad

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I can't really pick well to save my life, but when my fingernails get to long, I end up cutting 'em, 'cause I cant stand the sound of the fingernail against the string-- I prefer the sound of skin on the string. I mean, obviously, Aldrine's got nails longer than my grandma, and his playing sounds great. But when I do it, it sounds-- ugly.
 

Dane

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I can't really pick well to save my life, but when my fingernails get to long, I end up cutting 'em, 'cause I cant stand the sound of the fingernail against the string-- I prefer the sound of skin on the string. I mean, obviously, Aldrine's got nails longer than my grandma, and his playing sounds great. But when I do it, it sounds-- ugly.

Same goes for me, maybe we just need manicures tad ;)

I will probably end up experimenting again sometime, but for now, for learning, cropped and short as they can get.
 

Lanark

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You really don't need super long nails to fingerpick though. You can get by with a nail that extends to just about to the top of the pads on your fingers are. Just long enough to catch a bit of the string when you pluck and enough to give a good down strum with.
I suppose that it would take a bit of getting used to if you've always kept your nails trimmed to the quick, but I personally think it's worthwhile.

I really like the clarity and ring of fingerpicking with some nail behind it. Without just sounds kind of muffled and dead to me. Not to mention the extra volume you get. Plus you can utilize a nail like a regular pick to play solos and quickly double pick strings.

My biggest problem with nails is just keeping them filed to a good height for playing but where I'm also not going to keep breaking them at work.
 

ichadwick

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I've always played with my fingertips, never my nails. My nails are cut so short they're well below the tip of the fingers. I use the edge of my thumb, too. I find long nails are hard to maintain, keep clean and get in the way of typing.
 

Ian Boys

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...and I'm weird and actually have no thumbnails..... so I'm essentially forced to play without (as I keep the other nails short to match the tone of the nail-less thumbs).
 

YuKoLayLay

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Funny, when i first saw this thread i was like ... who doesnt have fingernails? Well anyways, The way i do it is, i use my nails to play chords and strum, but for finger picking i find it easeir to use the fleshy parts of your fingers.
 

Dane

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My nails are also very curving, so I'd kind of have to make them pointy in order to pick with them.
 

Lanark

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...The way i do it is, i use my nails to play chords and strum, but for finger picking i find it easeir to use the fleshy parts of your fingers.

Just a sec there. Use your own dang fingers!

I've got stuff to do with those and I'd much prefer it if you weren't messing with the fleshy parts. Stick with your own nails, thank you very much.
 

ainokea

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couldn't help it >>> you can pick your friends....you can pick your nose... and you know the rest. my apologies. =P
 

uber_goober

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I fall into the "no fingernails" camp also. I always keep my nails trimmed short.

I just like the tone better. That and my fingernails are quite thin so long doesn't work anyway. :)

-John