Tone production

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Yisrael van Handel
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Re: Tone production

Post by Yisrael van Handel » Wed Sep 27, 2017 8:38 am

guitarrista wrote:
Tue Sep 26, 2017 4:46 pm
Yisrael van Handel wrote:
Tue Sep 26, 2017 6:21 am
All of this is much harder as the attack angle approaches the perpendicular, unless there is something that I am missing. So far, it seems impossible. You cannot get a quick, noiseless release from the center of the nail when stroking nearly perpendicular to the string. Yet Paul Galbraith does it. I hope to discover the secret.
I don't know that there is any since there is at least one other variable involved, which is outside your control - the shape of the nail(s) across the fingertip as you look at them from the fingertip end down the length of the finger. If it is reasonably curved around the finger, playing with a thick beautiful tone at 90 degree is not a problem. If it is rather flat, the nail would constantly get stuck/click if trying to play at 90 degrees. The shape of the fingertip also matters.

What I mean is that if your nail and fingertip parameters are different from Galbraith's in these respects, it would be impossible to achieve what he has with the same configuration.
My fingernails are continue in a straight line beyond the nail bed. Until 50 years ago, everyone played with right hand perpendicular to the strings. There must be some way to do it with normal nails. Does anyone know?
My experiments so far indeed confirm that it is impossible to get any kind of tone playing perpendicular to the strings. Yet many people manage. I would be very grateful for the secret, if anyone knows. I am not going to bend my fingernails down. I will first give up on the upright position.
Yisrael van Handel
Modi'in Ilit, Israel

Rasputin
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Re: Tone production

Post by Rasputin » Wed Sep 27, 2017 9:02 am

I think guitarrista is probably right that your nails have to be a bit curved. This doesn't mean they have to be abnormal. Some nails are pretty much straight while others have a curve to them, but both kinds are perfectly normal. You seem to have defined normal as meaning 'like me', for some reason. You also seem to have the plane of curvature wrong.

If your nails make a straight line when you are looking straight down the barrel of the finger then you may want to adjust your hand position so that it is slightly rotated with respect to the strings.

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Yisrael van Handel
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Re: Tone production

Post by Yisrael van Handel » Wed Sep 27, 2017 9:32 am

Rasputin wrote:
Wed Sep 27, 2017 9:02 am
If your nails make a straight line when you are looking straight down the barrel of the finger then you may want to adjust your hand position so that it is slightly rotated with respect to the strings.
Thanks for your reply. This subtopic started because I am trying to adopt a more upright position (similar to baroque cello), and I am not succeeding in producing any kind of tone. Paul Galbraith produces the most beautiful tone while playing in the upright position. Guitarrista already said that it requires nails that are curved down beyond the nail bed. But that would mean that back in the days that everyone played perpendicular to the strings, you could not play guitar if your nails were straight. That seems unlikely to me. I am trying to ascertain if there is some other way to do it.
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Rasputin
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Re: Tone production

Post by Rasputin » Wed Sep 27, 2017 9:53 am

I'm not sure there was a time when everyone played absolutely perpendicular to the strings, and perfectly straight nails are pretty rare anyway. What happens if you let your fingertips extend before coming off the string?

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Yisrael van Handel
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Re: Tone production

Post by Yisrael van Handel » Wed Sep 27, 2017 1:02 pm

Rasputin wrote:
Wed Sep 27, 2017 9:53 am
What happens if you let your fingertips extend before coming off the string?
Aha!! I had the same question. I originally learned to play guitar by allowing the distal joint to extend (Aaron Shearer method). So I tried that. It helps, but far from good enough. I think excellent tone is more important than excellent technique. The audience listens to your tone. As long as your technique is not noticeably bad, they cannot tell the difference between mediocre technique and excellent technique. But even the biggest ignoramus is blown away by beautiful tone.
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SteveL123
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Re: Tone production

Post by SteveL123 » Wed Sep 27, 2017 1:56 pm

Yisrael van Handel wrote:
Wed Sep 27, 2017 8:38 am
.................
My fingernails are continue in a straight line beyond the nail bed.................
Straight in what direction? If straight in the direction along the length of your finger, that means you do not have hooked nails, a good characteristic to have for classical guitar. If it is straight perpendicular to the length of your finger, that is very uncommon. If it is straight in both directions, i.e. your fingernail is flat, that is even more uncommon.

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Re: Tone production

Post by Rasputin » Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:07 pm

SteveL123 wrote:
Wed Sep 27, 2017 1:56 pm
Yisrael van Handel wrote:
Wed Sep 27, 2017 8:38 am
.................
My fingernails are continue in a straight line beyond the nail bed.................
Straight in what direction? If straight in the direction along the length of your finger, that means you do not have hooked nails, a good characteristic to have for classical guitar. If it is straight perpendicular to the length of your finger, that is very uncommon. If it is straight in both directions, i.e. your fingernail is flat, that is even more uncommon.
Forgive me but both of those planes are perpendicular to the length of the finger. I had tried to get clarity on this by asking whether the nail made a straight line when looking down the barrel of the finger, but it didn't seem to go over. To me, if someone says the nail continues in a straight line beyond the nail bed they mean that it is not hooked, which as you say is a good thing.

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Yisrael van Handel
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Re: Tone production

Post by Yisrael van Handel » Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:58 pm

Rasputin wrote:
Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:07 pm

Forgive me but both of those planes are perpendicular to the length of the finger. I had tried to get clarity on this by asking whether the nail made a straight line when looking down the barrel of the finger, but it didn't seem to go over. To me, if someone says the nail continues in a straight line beyond the nail bed they mean that it is not hooked, which as you say is a good thing.
Sorry. I should know to be clear. My fingernails are straight in the proximal-distal axis (what you call the barrel) and they are not hooked at all; the nails follow the curvature of the nail bed in the transverse (radial-ulnar) axis. And you are right, it would be strange if they didn't. Bottom line, it appears that there is no magic for producing tone like Paul Galbraith when playing in the position in which he plays. This is a shame, because the position has great potential, in my opinion.
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guitarrista
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Re: Tone production

Post by guitarrista » Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:03 pm

Yisrael van Handel wrote:
Wed Sep 27, 2017 9:32 am
Guitarrista already said that it requires nails that are curved down beyond the nail bed.
Wait, maybe we have a misunderstanding here. Here is a picture of what I mean:

fingertip.jpg

Explanation:

Local right-handed coordinate system (local as in relative to the finger itself):
x axis: along the width of the finger towards the thumb;
y axis: along the length of the finger toward the base of the finger (away from fingertip);
z axis: perpendicular to the nail coming out and away on the nail side (from bottom to top of finger, ie. spanning its "height")

Blue solid line is how my pima fingertip nails(*) are (a is a bit more curved but the others are really almost completely 'flat' in the xz-plane as shown). So I have to play at an angle to the string - string here is shown as blue dotted line - in order to avoid getting the string stuck or click on the underside of my nail as it passes from flesh to nail. I also aim at the left side (nearer the thumb) for contact, so all this necessitates a hand angle which is not 90 degrees to strings.

In contrast, and I think what most people have as a fingertip profile on the nail side, is a curved nail (in the xz-plane) - shown here in solid red. That nail shape, coupled with a seamless transition from flesh to nail on both sides of the nail, makes for a fingertip which can play the string at any angle, including with hand at 90 degrees (string shown as red dashed line) - because the string is a straight line so there never is a case when the string is parallel to the nail shape to produce a click or get stuck.

I bet Gailbraith's nails have the red shape. But if yours do not, you have to play a different way.

(*) I am talking only about the blue and red curves/lines - which are just the intersection (projection) of the nail (edge) with (in) the xz plane. I am ignoring the nail shape variation, if any, in the y direction, as it is only the nail edge that matters for tone production.
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Last edited by guitarrista on Wed Sep 27, 2017 5:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Yisrael van Handel
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Re: Tone production

Post by Yisrael van Handel » Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:36 pm

guitarrista wrote:
Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:03 pm
<snip> I think what most people have as a fingertip profile on the nail side, is a curved nail (in the xz-plane) - shown here in solid red. That nail shape, coupled with a seamless transition from flesh to nail on both sides of the nail, makes for a fingertip which can play the string at any angle, including with hand at 90 degrees (string shown as red dashed line) - because the string is a straight line so there never is a case when the string is parallel to the nail shape to produce a click or get stuck.

I bet Gailbraith's nails have the red shape. But if yours do not, you have to play a different way.
Guitarrista,
You just opened my eyes. Yes, we misunderstood each other. But worse, I assessed my own fingernails incorrectly. My fingernails are nearly flat (zero z component, parallel to x-y plane, blue line in your excellent drawing) and anything but seamless transition between nail and flesh. So you are telling me that I had better go back to oblique attack angle and not try to play in the upright position? It is disappointing, but the evidence so far is on your side. I have a strong feeling that you are correct. Thank you very much. I could have continued with non-productive experiments for months.
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SteveL123
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Re: Tone production

Post by SteveL123 » Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:50 pm

guitarrista wrote:
Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:03 pm
Yisrael van Handel wrote:
Wed Sep 27, 2017 9:32 am
Guitarrista already said that it requires nails that are curved down beyond the nail bed.
Wait, maybe we have a misunderstanding here. Here is a picture of what I mean:


fingertip.jpg


Explanation:

Local right-handed coordinate system (local as in relative to the finger itself):
x axis: along the width of the finger towards the thumb;
y axis: along the length of the finger toward the base of the finger (away from fingertip);
z axis: perpendicular to the nail coming out and away on the nail side (from bottom to top of finger, ie. spanning its "height")

Blue solid line is how my pima fingertip nails are (a is a bit more curved but the others are really almost completely 'flat' in the xz-plane as shown). So I have to play at an angle to the string - string here is shown as blue dotted line - in order to avoid getting the string stuck or click on the underside of my nail as it passes from flesh to nail. I also aim at the left side (nearer the thumb) for contact, so all this necessitates a hand angle which is not 90 degrees to strings.

In contrast, and I think what most people have as a fingertip profile on the nail side, is a curved nail (in the xz-plane) - shown here in solid red. That nail shape, coupled with a seamless transition from flesh to nail on both sides of the nail, makes for a fingertip which can play the string at any angle, including with hand at 90 degrees (string shown as red dashed line) - because the string is a straight line so there never is a case when the string is parallel to the nail shape to produce a click or get stuck.

I bet Gailbraith's nails have the red shape. But if yours do not, you have to play a different way.
I am confused by your topology convention, e.g. : "Blue solid line is how my pima fingertip nails are (a is a bit more curved but the others are really almost completely 'flat' in the xz-plane as shown)"

Per image below, shouldn't your nails be flat in the xy (pink) plane?
Image

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Re: Tone production

Post by guitarrista » Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:58 pm

You are very welcome, Yisrael. I hope your experiments are successful.
Konstantin
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1982 Anselmo Solar Gonzalez

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Re: Tone production

Post by guitarrista » Wed Sep 27, 2017 5:03 pm

SteveL123 wrote:
Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:50 pm


I am confused by your topology convention, e.g. : "Blue solid line is how my pima fingertip nails are (a is a bit more curved but the others are really almost completely 'flat' in the xz-plane as shown)"

Per image below, shouldn't your nails be flat in the xy (pink) plane?
Image
Sorry, I was talking only about the blue and red curves/lines - which are just the intersection of the nail with the xz plane. I am ignoring the nail shape variation, if any, in the y direction, as it is only the nail end that matters for tone production. But yes, if the nail was flat all along its "length", it is as if it is all in the pink xy plane (zero z). I edited my post above to clarify. Thank you for pointing this out.
Konstantin
--
1982 Anselmo Solar Gonzalez

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