Playing without finger nails - thumb issue

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LucNeyens
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Oct 30, 2017 5:54 pm
Location: Landen, Belgium

Playing without finger nails - thumb issue

Post by LucNeyens » Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:25 pm

Greetings,

As mentioned in my profile, beginning of this year I started playing the classical guitar again after (far too) many years. Initially, my intention was to play with nails, believing this was the “standard” way and as recommended by my former teacher way back when. Yet, I was having trouble getting a proper tone with my thumb. It was as if there was always a second sound when my thumb nail hit the lower strings. This double sound did not occur with the i, m or a fingers. After some searching on the Internet, I came across the site of Rob MacKillop and, being particularly impressed with the beauty of the tones he is able to produce, decided to try and play without nails as well, hoping this would resolve the issue I was having.

Unfortunately, even though I cut my thumb nail as short as possible (some 2 mm backwards from the tip of my thumb), I still find it very hard **not** to touch the string with just the flesh and no nail, often resulting in a harsh tick sound, at least to my ears. Pushing the string somewhat downwards instead of plucking it horizontally seems to help, but not always. I have watched Rob MacKillop’s YouTube videos several times but am still looking for a position/posture where only the flesh touches the strings.

Any recommendation – other videos on YouTube or specific exercises – would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Last edited by LucNeyens on Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Luc

Rasputin
Posts: 570
Joined: Fri May 12, 2017 12:25 pm

Re: Playing without finger nails

Post by Rasputin » Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:03 pm

Sorry if this is a silly question but are you 100% sure that it is the nail making contact? Sometimes the flesh can make a pretty ugly noise too, and I don't see how it can be the nail if it is that short.

Alternatively, maybe the nail needs filing at the sides.

LucNeyens
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Oct 30, 2017 5:54 pm
Location: Landen, Belgium

Re: Playing without finger nails

Post by LucNeyens » Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:47 pm

Thank you for your reply, Rasputin. It's not a silly question but, yes, I'm sure it's the nail that's making the noise. I have tried filing, but will try again with a finer file.

I should perhaps add my fingertips are rather soft, so provide little resistance. Pushing the thumb somewhat deeper between the strings - and use more flesh - seems to get rid of the noise. But, if the lower string is still vibrating, it often touches the top of the nail. Maybe it's just a matter of continued practicing.
Luc

simonm
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Location: Germany, Würzburg. Spain, IB

Re: Playing without finger nails

Post by simonm » Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:54 pm

Hi Luc, I can't help directly at all as I use nails. Rob MacKillop is an active member here so maybe he will chime in at some point. Can I suggest you change the thread title to something like "Playing without finger nails - thumb issue". This would draw more attention from players with the necessary experience to help you. To edit you just need to click on the little "pencil" symbol on the top right side of your message.

Simon

LucNeyens
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Oct 30, 2017 5:54 pm
Location: Landen, Belgium

Re: Playing without finger nails - thumb issue

Post by LucNeyens » Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:04 pm

Hi Simon. Thank you for the suggestion. I changed the subject line.
Luc

User avatar
Michael.N.
Posts: 6632
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2007 7:28 am
Location: UK

Re: Playing without finger nails - thumb issue

Post by Michael.N. » Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:57 pm

I suppose if there's not much flesh beyond a very short cut nail it's still possible that the nail will come into contact with the string. I don't have that problem with the thumb but I do with my index finger. I have to trim it back every couple of days, cutting it as short as I dare! I can also hear it click if I press on a piano key but none of the other fingers have that problem unless I let them grow for 4 or 5 days.
Of course it could also be your technique, difficult to say without seeing your hand/thumb position.
Historicalguitars.

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