What about the lefthand (or fretting) nails?

Nail care, nail problems, and the use of nails in playing the classical guitar.
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What about the lefthand (or fretting) nails?

Post by Mark567 » Thu Aug 18, 2016 12:51 am

I don’t see much discussion on this, at the same time I didn’t scour the forum either.
How short do you keep yours?
I see many pros who’s fretting nails are almost nonexistent. If I cut mine that short the soft section between the skin and the nail will split and I won’t be using that finger for awhile.
Will that part toughen up in time? Or is this just as low as I can go?
Taking mine as far as I dare just doesn’t seem to be enough, especially when having to reach over more than four frets.
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Re: What about the lefthand (or fretting) nails?

Post by Jack Douglas » Thu Aug 18, 2016 1:06 am

I never cut nails or use finger clippers on my right or left hands. I always use a nail file to shorten my left hand nails and to shape my right hand nails before I buff them mirror smooth with an assortment of micro mesh grits.
Never never use clippers or other cutting devices on either hand's nails! Never!!!
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Re: What about the lefthand (or fretting) nails?

Post by Mark567 » Thu Aug 18, 2016 1:10 am

Sorry, I meant to say "when I file my nails"
No, I never cut them.
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Re: What about the lefthand (or fretting) nails?

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Thu Aug 18, 2016 1:24 am

I'm curious about the rationale for never clipping your left hand nails? I do this as a matter of course, but maybe I need to change!
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Re: What about the lefthand (or fretting) nails?

Post by spanishguitarmusic » Thu Aug 18, 2016 1:35 am

I cut my left hand nails, close and I also file them smooth.

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Re: What about the lefthand (or fretting) nails?

Post by pogmoor » Thu Aug 18, 2016 2:00 pm

Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:I'm curious about the rationale for never clipping your left hand nails? I do this as a matter of course, but maybe I need to change!
Yes, I clip them as well, since there is no need to shape them accurately. The main requirement, I find, is to keep them short enough to avoid touching the fingerboard when fretting a note or chord requires a finger to to be perpendicular to the fretboard or even leaning over beyond the perpendicular.
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Re: What about the lefthand (or fretting) nails?

Post by guitarrista » Thu Aug 18, 2016 3:45 pm

pogmoor wrote:
Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:I'm curious about the rationale for never clipping your left hand nails? I do this as a matter of course, but maybe I need to change!
Yes, I clip them as well, since there is no need to shape them accurately. The main requirement, I find, is to keep them short enough to avoid touching the fingerboard when fretting a note or chord requires a finger to to be perpendicular to the fretboard or even leaning over beyond the perpendicular.
I do that as well, which leaves 3-4mm of padding (past the nail) on the fingertips - plenty of clearance and never had any problem. Frankly it never occured to me till this thread that someone might be filing the fretboard hand nails.. :wink:
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Re: What about the lefthand (or fretting) nails?

Post by jpryan » Thu Aug 18, 2016 4:26 pm

Apparently I have no respect for my left-hand fingernails. :twisted: I cut, clip, file, or whatever else might be expedient to get them short enough that they have no chance of touching the fingerboard. I only smooth them enough that they don't catch on things. The left thumbnail I take better care of since I keep it a little longer for utility purposes. The nails on the left hand do get lotioned when I'm maintaining the right hand, but I don't waste time putting any oil on them.
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Re: What about the lefthand (or fretting) nails?

Post by JohnB » Thu Aug 18, 2016 4:31 pm

Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:I'm curious about the rationale for never clipping your left hand nails? I do this as a matter of course, but maybe I need to change!
I never clip my left hand nails because they are never long enough to clip.

I need to keep my LH nails as short as possible so I run a nail file over them every day before I start playing (well, I actually use wet&dry abrasive paper, rather than a nail file).

Everyone's nails are slightly different, but if I don't file my LH nails as short as possible it starts to affecting my LH technique.
Last edited by JohnB on Thu Aug 18, 2016 4:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What about the lefthand (or fretting) nails?

Post by bear » Thu Aug 18, 2016 4:34 pm

I keep them as short as possible. I use clippers and don't do anything special. I once had a guitar that had indentations in the fret board from someone's nails.
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Re: What about the lefthand (or fretting) nails?

Post by creamburmese » Thu Sep 15, 2016 6:52 pm

I have to keep them really short - especially m, because it often ends up pointing backwards to reach - so as soon as those little white arcs appear they get filed off. Definitely more functional than pretty...

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Re: What about the lefthand (or fretting) nails?

Post by Mykart » Sat Sep 17, 2016 7:12 pm

Jack Douglas wrote: Never never use clippers or other cutting devices on either hand's nails! Never!!!
I'm curious as to why, what is the harm in using clippers on the left hand nails?
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Re: What about the lefthand (or fretting) nails?

Post by Mark567 » Sat Sep 17, 2016 7:27 pm

My original question was more about the length of the left-hand nails and the possibility of cutting and "training" them to be made shorter?
What I want to know is, if I cut them further back (and I know it will be painful) will the nail bed eventually shorten allowing me to keep the nail shorter?
The only finger I'm concerned with is my i finger, the other 3 naturally have shorter nails.
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Re: What about the lefthand (or fretting) nails?

Post by JamesMessick » Sat Sep 17, 2016 8:42 pm

I used to cut them but since this thread started I have begun to file them instead, and I shall continue this practice.
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Re: What about the lefthand (or fretting) nails?

Post by Luis_Br » Wed Sep 21, 2016 7:13 pm

I recommend not to cut too short. I agree with Parkening's recommendation in his method, that the nail of the LH helps organizing the flesh for better pull-off sound. Its influence varies with your fingertip flesh size stiffness. So I also shape my LH nail for better pull-off sound (though not so detailed shaping as with RH).

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