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Thread: Fingernails vs No Fingernails

  1. #1

    Default Fingernails vs No Fingernails


    I am new to ukulele. My uke should arrive sometime this coming Tuesday.

    It seems to me that most of the uke players that I enjoy listening to (and enjoy their tone) have long fingernails. Ukulelezaza is an example. In preparation for getting my uke, I've been growing my nails out. I must say that I really dislike having long nails. Plus, I am already weird enough. I don't know if I am liking the idea of having a few long nails on one hand. My question is... are there any players out there that get a good "classic" soprano uke tone without nails? I am aware of products like aLaska picks, but I really don't care for those (I've tried them on guitar).

    Thanks in advance,


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    West Virginia


    I am "no nails" soprano player. Can't stand long nails and can control the sound of the ukulele much better without nails. You will find that the skin on your strumming/picking hand builds up a bit of calloused skin around the nail, which gets a good sound.
    - Laura

    Martin, KoAloha, Brueko, Mele, Mainland, Outdoor, Kala, Enya, Harmony, Tempo, Globe, Vega, Silvertone, Kay, Luna, Vorson, Zither Heaven, First Act

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2019


    If you keep the fingernails fairly short—about 1mm past the tip—you can easily vary the angle to use a flesh stroke or nail stroke tone. For the thumbnail, it needs to be a little longer—about 3mm—but it is even easier to alternate your tone between flesh tone and nail strokes. It's nice to have a choice and I love both sounds. One you have nails, they sound best with a rounded contour sanded to a smooth perfection (1000 grit plus sandpaper). I even buff mine with several grades of Micromesh.
    Last edited by gochugogi; 05-05-2019 at 06:14 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Port Hope, Ontario, Canada


    I have very weak nails an for the past decade or so, have been visiting Lily's Nails, our local nail joint, to have acrylic gel nails applied. Like Segovia, I like them so that they're just visible over the end of my fingers. I get the index,bird and ring fingers done. I started doing this to only one nail to help with clawhammer banjo, but to keep my guitar playing fingers balanced, I got the other two done as well.
    Susan, the person who does my nails, knows exactly how I like them, and I have referred a couple of my friends and students to her.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Ames, Iowa


    I don't think that long fingernails are required equipment.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    I just want everyone to understand that I am not a ukulele expert, even though it may look at times like I'm pretending to be.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Palm Beach County FL

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    SE Connecticut, USA


    I dislike playing my ukuleles without longer nails on my strumming/picking hand. The tone is much more clear and the volume is much better for me.
    Sopranos: aNueNue Khaya Mahogany 1, Bruko No. 6; Kiwaya KS-1; Kiwaya KTS-4; Kiwaya KTS-4K; Martin S-O
    Concerts:Cahaya CY-0112; Kiwaya KTC-1; Kiwaya KPC-1M; Kiwaya KCU-1, Takumi TC-1M, Takumi TC-3K, Musicguymic’s Kolohe
    Tenors: Cordoba 24T; Kiwaya KTT-2K
    Baritones: Cordoba 24B

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Stone Harbor, NJ


    Welcome Milwaukee, that is a question only you can answer. Start with short nails, then let them grow. See what you think. This is a personal choice, only you can answer this question. Enjoy and be patient.

    In order of age:

    Martin C-1K Concert, C Re-entrant Tuning 4/2014
    Pono MTD-CR Tenor C Linear Tuning 6/21/2016
    Ko'olau Model 100 Tenor C Linear Tuning 7/27/2018
    Kamaka HF-2 Koa Concert C Linear 6/26/2019
    Cocobolo Concert #433 C Re-Entrant 2/3/2020
    Martin S1 Soprano, C Re-entrant Tuning 3/19/2020

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Canada Prairies, brrr ....


    I can't handle long fingernails at all and I pick just with my fingertips. That feels great to me and is loud enough for rooms with up to about 20 people without amplification.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Eastern Massachusetts


    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Yates View Post
    I have very weak nails an for the past decade or so
    Have you tried Biotin? I'm generally not a vitamin or supplements guy. But I also have weak nails that would split up the length of the nail, not break across. (This is before I started playing) Very painful and difficult to grow out because the crack would just keep spreading toward, or even into, the nail bed. Within a month of taking Biotin daily, the cracks were disappearing. I haven't had a nail crack in the year or so since. Just don't tell Susan that I suggested another option!

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