Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Nail care, nail problems, and the use of nails in playing the classical guitar.
glassynails
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Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by glassynails » Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:45 pm

Hi

I was just reading on Rob MacKillop's site in an interview with a classical guitarist that plays with no nails that she said Segovia said

“When you play with flesh only, the flesh doesn’t bring a robust sound, that is why you need to have nails to support the flesh as long as the tip of the flesh, never over. For that reason we can dig into the string and boost the sound with power and good color.

“This is playing without nails. Segovia taught me this nail’s-length technique. Then, I incorporated it to my tip shape to maximize the sound quality.”


Should may nails only go to the end of my fingertips and not over? I also think that Scott Tenant also says something similar in his series.
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Re: Segovis said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by wyres » Sun Jun 18, 2017 6:48 pm

I feel that one needs to experiment with nail length/ shape as it depends on your technique, the sound you seek and the nature of the instrument.

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Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by brooks » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:27 am

I believe Segovia once said: "Above all, the nails should be glassy. Very, very glassy."

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tormodg
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Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by tormodg » Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:55 pm

That was confusing. Is this a suggestion that "playing without nails" requires nails that stop at the ends of the fingers, or that "playing with nails" does? If she plays without nails but has nails that stop at the ends of her fingers, I'm not sure what I'd qualify that as.

Anyway, for me I find that slightly longer than the tip of my fingers works well. Not much, maybe 1/2-1 millimeter.
Last edited by tormodg on Wed Jun 21, 2017 2:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by Rasputin » Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:15 pm

glassynails wrote:
Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:45 pm
I was just reading on Rob MacKillop's site in an interview with a classical guitarist that plays with no nails that she said Segovia said

“When you play with flesh only, the flesh doesn’t bring a robust sound, that is why you need to have nails to support the flesh as long as the tip of the flesh, never over. For that reason we can dig into the string and boost the sound with power and good color.

“This is playing without nails. Segovia taught me this nail’s-length technique. Then, I incorporated it to my tip shape to maximize the sound quality.”
tormodg wrote:
Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:55 pm
That was confusing. Is this a suggestion that "playing without nails" requires nails that stop at the ends of the fingers, or that "playing with nails" does?
Without. It doesn't make sense otherwise, plus I'm pretty sure this has come up before and the idea is that the nail doesn't touch the string but the support it gives the flesh changes the sound.

I think Scott Tenant has something about nail length but he is talking about playing with nails.

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Tom Poore
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Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by Tom Poore » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:16 pm

glassynails wrote: Should may nails only go to the end of my fingertips and not over? I also think that Scott Tenant also says something similar in his series.
Tennant indeed says this in “Pumping Nylon.” (At least in the 1995 edition—maybe newer editions have changed.) But in this specific case, he’s flat wrong. In fact, in the same book he elsewhere illustrates correct nail shapes in which the nail clearly extends beyond the fingertip. I’ve never understood why this obvious contradiction was allowed into print.

You can see this for yourself in the following video. Skip ahead to the 2:04 mark.


Youtube


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Francisco
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Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by Francisco » Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:59 pm

Tom Poore wrote:
Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:16 pm

Tennant indeed says this in “Pumping Nylon.” (At least in the 1995 edition—maybe newer editions have changed.) But in this specific case, he’s flat wrong. In fact, in the same book he elsewhere illustrates correct nail shapes in which the nail clearly extends beyond the fingertip.
I don't think there is such a thing as a "correct" nail shape at all. George Sakellariou has very very long nails and gets a beautiful tone. Ana Vidovic has very short nails (I don't think they extend beyond the fingertip) and also gets very good tone and plays very well. So does Tatyana Ryzhkova. And she explicitly recommends short nails. Here she shows her nails from the front and the back. Only the i finger nail goes beyond the tip. Images of her nails start at 4:24
https://youtu.be/fDzFTBJRJnI?t=264

I can't get good tone at all if the nails go much beyond the tip. So I keep them about the level of the finger tip. Sometimes I file my a finger nail so much (because its sound annoys me) that I can't really use it for a couple of days.
Nail length and shapes are among the most variable things in guitar playing.
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bear
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Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by bear » Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:12 am

There was a discussion sometime back, I believe opened by Rob, regarding noted players players that used nails and didn't. I admitted that I could not tell the difference. Several members contributed named of players for each of the 2 categories.
As time passed the list had to be amended.
It seems I'm not the only one that can't tell the difference.
I play with nails because I like the sound. I don't know or care if anyone else likes it. I've also discovered Java Chip ice cream, I think I prefer it over chocolate.
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Frousse
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Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by Frousse » Tue Jun 20, 2017 2:37 am

I believe it is up to each individual to determine after experimentation the nail length that suits best. Nail shapes will have much to do with that determination.

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Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by davekear » Tue Jun 20, 2017 5:53 pm

Francisco wrote:
Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:59 pm

I don't think there is such a thing as a "correct" nail shape at all.
Nail length and shapes are among the most variable things in guitar playing.
Yea, absolutely. There are great guitarists who have nails on the long side, and those who have short nails. There are those who like ramps, (E.g. Scott tenant), and those who like round, (E.g. Eliot Fisk). As a matter of fact, Eliot Fisk changes the length of his nails at times depending on what repertoire or recording he's working on.

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Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by Luis_Br » Wed Jun 21, 2017 8:29 pm

Your sound taste defines a lot the nails you want. Talking about mechanics, I think it varies with your nail curvature, tip flesh consistency and curvature, and specially how far from fingertip nail start detaching from finger and generates space between finger and the nail (the size of nails white part out of flesh). Several methods do not talk about this last point, which makes a lot of difference in my humble experience. Nail thickness and flexibility also has a lot of influence on size choice.

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Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by davebones » Mon Jun 26, 2017 8:34 pm

I am brand new to classical guitar, having played electric jazz guitars and occasionally acoustic folk, so going "pickless" has felt very different to me. Is learning to use nails an important foundational skill that I will need to have?
I have really appreciated all the diverse input from the forum members on this subject, and I'm ready to forge ahead with nails if it will help me progress. Thanks for any opinions you may have
Dave

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Denian Arcoleo
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Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Mon Jun 26, 2017 8:46 pm

It all depends on the shape of ones fingertips. Segovia had fingers that tapered gradually upward toward the underside of the nail and flattened out dramatically nail side. This meant that only a tiny bit of nail was required to gain good contact with the string after travelling along the flesh of the fingertip. Other people have very round fingertips, like semi-spheres. With this finger shape a tiny amount of nail results in thin, scratchy tone and even physical catching of the finger on the string. So for round fingertips a longer length of nail is required to ensure a smooth transition from flesh to nail.

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Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by PeteJ » Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:14 pm

All very useful comments so thanks. Nothing to add though. I've never been happy with my nails for longer than a day.

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Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by tormodg » Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:48 pm

davebones wrote:
Mon Jun 26, 2017 8:34 pm
I am brand new to classical guitar, having played electric jazz guitars and occasionally acoustic folk, so going "pickless" has felt very different to me. Is learning to use nails an important foundational skill that I will need to have?
I think "yes". Give it a try and then decide if it's for you. I find that playing with nails gives me a lot more control over the strings than playing without (but I have not played without nails for years, so I am heavily biased).
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