Playing without fingernails?

haole

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I can't stand having long nails on either hand. XD Short nails are fine for fingerpicking; you just need to work on the angle of attack so your fingertips don't get hung up on the strings.
 

SuperSecretBETA

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I grow them out; they get ridiculously long.
After that, I cut them, and the process begins all over again.
 

lovemissheather

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i have been a nail biter for as long as i can remember. i play with the tips of my fingers as well - and i actually prefer it that way. maybe it's because I'm used to it.

i remember once, i got those girly girl fake nails and basically got pissed and tore them off with my teeth when i realized how much harder it was to play my guitar and my bass.

sure, it's not the girly thing to do.
but its my habit and you know? i don't mind it.
:)

i think you guys who have no nails, or less nails are better of in a social standard.. if that makes sense. you're not expected to have long nails. a lot of cultures (especially the American culture - hell, the California culture) expects women to have longer fingernails, etc. because we're all supposed to be more feminine.

instead i have calluses on my strumming fingers and my fretting fingers.
which aren't real noticeable.

i don't know.
I've never had a problem.
having fingernails would drive me CRAZY.
 

tad

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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.


There's other ways to get volume. Banjoleles, for example. :D
 

SeanKy671

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I hav a habit of biting my nails lol :D but i still play fine with my fingers
i can pick.. i can strum.. this has never been a problem for me :/
 

UkeCanDoIt!

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I like the muted tone with just using the finger tips. It doesn't project the tone as clearly as strumming with fingernails, but then I'm probably never going to be in a situation where I need to. :)
 

cashew

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I'm picky about my hands/nails (at least until my wedding in October) And my manicurist thinks I'm strange-- I have long 'dragon lady' nails on my right hand, but considerably shorter (top of fingertip) on my left. In order to keep them from breaking (my nails are naturally very soft/brittle) I have them coated in a clear UV acrylic.

In the end, it makes my fingerpicked songs ring out loud and clear, my strummed songs sound kinda 'pickish' (hard plastic coating on the nails will do that).

Now, my mom plays guitar with no long fingernails at all, and she excels in fingerpicking. Loudly. I figure its because she has callused fingertips, which, for her work extremely well :)

To each their own, everyone finds their own best way.
 

Dane

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I'm self-concious. I wouldn't like someone to see me with long nails on one hand haha.
 

dnewton2

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I'm self-concious. I wouldn't like someone to see me with long nails on one hand haha.

I grow out my nails on one hand to play the uke. I can't pick as well with my fingertips I always hit wrong strings. As for what other people think of me I don't care, if I did I would play guitar. (not knocking the uke or guitar I just think some people play it cause they think it will make them cool or look cool.)
 

SeanKy671

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I grow out my nails on one hand to play the uke. I can't pick as well with my fingertips I always hit wrong strings. As for what other people think of me I don't care, if I did I would play guitar. (not knocking the uke or guitar I just think some people play it cause they think it will make them cool or look cool.)

well said
totally respect that bro :D
 

roypoy

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Looks like a lot less people play with their fingernails then I initially thought, was under the impression that nearly everyone did. I was just having trouble the first few days without fingernails, I'm starting to get used to it though.
 

cMejilla

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i've gotten used to picking with my fingernails. i haven't kept them ridiculously long for a while since i've found a good balance where it just sticks out over my fingers and catches the strings.

although when i first started, i used the fleshy parts just to make sure i was anchored down onto the right string and slowly progressed the picking to the nails after i found the right length.
 

Dane

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As I said, I might frow them out a bit as I progress. But for now I feel that I will have a better basis if I use my fingertips. I like it because I really feel the uke with both hands.
 

cMejilla

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Is that even safe on your skin?

I remember a while back when someone (could have been nikolo in a previous thread but I'm not quite certain) posted about using a fingernail strengthener that helped rebuild the integrity of brittle nails. It was something you could apply yourself every once in a while and purchase at a local drug store. I wouldn't assume that it'd be remarkably unhealthy for you. :confused:
 

NotoriousMOK

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I remember a while back when someone (could have been nikolo in a previous thread but I'm not quite certain) posted about using a fingernail strengthener that helped rebuild the integrity of brittle nails. It was something you could apply yourself every once in a while and purchase at a local drug store. I wouldn't assume that it'd be remarkably unhealthy for you. :confused:

Some years back, I worked for an MLM company and one the products I sold was called the Lume' nail care system. It was a type of gelcoat that was cured/bonded to the nail. The big selling point here was that it allowed the natural nail to breath and strengthen itself. I honestly thought it worked really well and sold hundreds of them. I was initially surprised how many men (usually mechanics, woodworkers etc) bought them who had a tendency to destroy their nails (splitting/breaking/painful stuff) in the course of their work.

Anyways, the UV light and/or the gelcoat had a bad reaction with something that an Arizona lady had on her hands or nails and her hands got hot and started smoking. She sued and the company blew up, but it looks like they're back in biz, but with disclaimers and warnings about mixing the contents of the kit with other products.


As for playing with/without nails, I do both depending on what I'm playing and/or my mood. I file my nails JUST long enough to use for picking but short enough that I can use the flesh instead if desired. I also cut the nails at an angle which looks a little wierd, but I found helps avoid my clumsy hands breaking them off or bending them when working in the shop or yard. An unexpected benefit of this cut was a smoother roll/strum that I had not discovered before.

At the end of the day, you've just got to experiment and discover what works best for you -- have fun.
 

thesoobz

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its all preference! haha

but finger nails do help when picking and when you play it sounds clearer well from what i notice. my thumb nail is long for picking. i keep my right hand nails long expect for my pinky.