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Thread: Nails

  1. #1

    Default Nails

    Hi!

    I'm wondering how folks here keep their nails. I've seen recommendations for keeping the fretting hand very short, others that says keep the strumming hand's nails short, further opinions that strumming nails don' t have to be short, some who use long nails on their strumming hand for strumming and picking, etc. I was watching a video of Grace Vanderwaal showing how to play one of her songs and noticed when they did close up images of her fretting hand, she actually has fairly long nails on that hand (not saying she's the final word on such things and she didn't talk about it at all, but I noticed at as simply another uke player).

    What works well for you and why? I've been keeping my fret hand nails short right now but I'm not sure at all about the strumming hand. I haven't yet decided for sure on what type of strum is most comfortable for me yet and I know even less hpw how using my nails affect that. I'd love to hear what works for you and why.

    Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    East Midlands UK
    Posts
    210

    Default

    Former guitarist here, so generally,short nails on fretting hand
    longer on strumming/picking hand. But as ever, what works best
    FOR YOU.Experiment and find what suits you and what you think
    works well for the sound you are aiming for.
    No hard and fast answer, just try various combinations until it 'fits'!
    All power and respect to you Concert,Tenor and Baritone players, but Soprano is what does it for me every time!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.
    Posts
    4,995

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    It's what works for you that matters.

    I find that I need short nails to fret cleanly, (like most people), whilst I tend to strum & pick mainly with my thumb.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Posts
    241

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    Myself i am happy if i have a longer index fingernail for strumming, but it is no biggie. I don't file it and if I get a crack I just clip it short. Or when it seldomly grows too long

    I play solos on C, E and A strings with the short nailed thumb that allows me a rest stroke on C and E. Index finger only works with short nail for melody play same as thumb. But thumb is much better and more intuitive.

    Those are mine.

    EDIT:
    Also one bad habit I try avoid is open the beer can with index finger. Or is that 2 bad habits?
    Last edited by Jarmo_S; 02-27-2018 at 11:58 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
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    241

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill1 View Post
    For the picking and strumming hand, if you have your nails too short it you may end up with painful quick and finger tips. On your strumming hand, you need to take care of the quick and your finger tips if they are hitting the strings all the time. So maybe a minimum of 2mm or just to the end of your fingertip is advised. You can have them longer if you like the noise long nails make.
    That is certainly an unknown phenomena for me. Maybe if it is about steel strings and your knowledge you have got from them?. I have never been fond of destroying the nails in acoustic guitar and maybe with short nails, but honestly I have never been able to produce much good sound without a pick. Maybe with them some soreness using just skin?

    But with nylons in guitar or nylguts I have in my uke, it does not matter how much I strum or pick, no pain whatsoever with short or practically no nails.
    Are fluorocarbons so different in this regard? Those I have not tried.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    289

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    I keep my fretting hand nails as short as possible. At this point, I could probably let them grow a bit, but it just feels comfortable to have them short enough that they don't contact the fretboard even coming straight downward.

    On my picking hand, it's been a long, long struggle to get nails that are consistent enough that I can use them to improve my tone. My thumbnail shreds if I look at it wrong. I've been using glass nail files and following Matt's techniques, which really helped me understand how to shape and maintain the nails. I also use a lacquer on top of my thumb, the others are strong enough without it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    5,540

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    I have awful nails - really weak, that chip and split at the slightest provocation. I keep the left hand super short (cut back once a week) and when I can, I try to keep the nails on my right hand just *barely* longer than the fingertip. My right thumb nail refuses to grow out at all, so I use a modified guitar thumb pick that I file down so it's much shorter than off the shelf.

    I've tried not bothering with growing out the right hand nails at all, but since I'm mostly a fingerpicker and not a strummer I don't get the sound I want without nails. And I've considered acrylics, but since I hate beauty treatments (I can barely even make it in for a haircut a few times a year!), I can't imagine committing to the upkeep.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Ames, Iowa/San Juan, Puerto Rico
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    2,984

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    I don't do anything special with mine. I keep them trimmed up, left hand nails a little longer than right hand nails, but I don't get persnickety about it. They wear funny, each fingernail different than the others. When they get so long or wear in a weird enough way that they are noticeable, I round them off.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...tective+Agency

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Pittsburgh-ish, Pa
    Posts
    27

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    I can really only comment on my fret hand which I keep trimmed quite short. I think you'll notice when your nails get in the way...work the D chord (2220). For strumming, I chopped of the tip of my index finger when I was a pup and my fingernail now looks almost like a bird beak (I know, right?!?). I still keep this nail short but since it curves in, it works amazingly well for strumming. My picking thumb is fine as long as it's trimmed short on the outer edge else my nail catches the strings. NO clue why I typed all this...I'm bored I guess. LOL. GOOD LUCK!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
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    241

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill1 View Post
    Well not everyone is superman and not everyone has fingertips of steel. A few mere mortals and beginners actually have normal fingertips which need to be looked after.
    Also some beginners like to get some helpful advice when they ask a question in the beginners section.
    I personally keep the same length nails for steel strings, nylon, black nylon and fluorocarbons. I follow the fingernail advice published by Segovia many years ago in hardcopy. I think this is the book, it has details and photos of Segovia's fingernails. https://www.amazon.com/Segovia-Techn.../dp/0933224494
    Nails are so much depending of our genes. Mine are weak and I have seen some people whose nails are maybe 3 or even 5 times thicker than mine, So I feel to some above posters with nail problems. Though as I posted I don't think the nail(s) are such a a big thing, except maybe fingerpicking, for playing ukulele. For upward strum I rather prefer the nailles index finger sound.

    Segovia was a somewhat arrogant person in his opinions. Electric guitars were not acceptable to him as musical instruments etc his music taste was somewhat limited. But of course he was fine in his own universe of classical guitar. I have a book where he teaches a young girl in some pics, in english it's name could be "Segovia, my book of guitar.", a beginners one. There are pics of his picking hand and whle not exactly monkey nails, anyways much thicker than mine.

    Classical guitar is a kind of perverse instrument, because of the need of nails. Think poor Fransisco Tarrega, who in his older age was forced to play nailles. At his time no fake structural nails available.

    I don't think nails are such a big thing with ukulele, except maybe for a louder sound. Or in your case because as a superman you are able to have fine nails, but yes your fingertips are somewhat sensitive

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