Fundamental question about nail use

Nail care, nail problems, and the use of nails in playing the classical guitar.
stevec
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Fundamental question about nail use

Post by stevec » Mon Nov 14, 2016 12:46 pm

When the finger nail approaches the string should there be any contact with the flesh of the finger tip? I'm finding that there is when I play and that does not create a clean sound!. Should the nail be the only part of the finger that touches the string? My nails are around 1 to 1.5mm above the tips of my fingers. Maybe they need to be longer (which is a problem in itself as I have thin nails and so tone degrades with longer nails!)

Bill B
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Re: Fundamental question about nail use

Post by Bill B » Mon Nov 14, 2016 1:57 pm

yes. the flesh touches the string first, and prevents the noise that touching a string that is already vibrating with the nail only will make. the string releases from the nail alone, though.
2013 Angel Benito Aguado
2005 Ramirez R-2

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guitarguy
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Re: Fundamental question about nail use

Post by guitarguy » Mon Nov 14, 2016 2:32 pm

I can recommend the following instructional video by William Kanengieser https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJ36c3_6jks

Bill B
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Re: Fundamental question about nail use

Post by Bill B » Mon Nov 14, 2016 3:47 pm

guitarguy wrote:I can recommend the following instructional video by William Kanengieser https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJ36c3_6jks
great video
2013 Angel Benito Aguado
2005 Ramirez R-2

Lovemyguitar
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Re: Fundamental question about nail use

Post by Lovemyguitar » Mon Nov 14, 2016 4:45 pm

Bill B wrote:yes. the flesh touches the string first, and prevents the noise that touching a string that is already vibrating with the nail only will make. the string releases from the nail alone, though.
:?: I am not sure that this is accurate advice, nor practical. Surely it depends on what the person is playing, because touching the string with the flesh first would effectively mute it prior to plucking it, and that may not be a desired result (as well as being rather awkward to execute at times). As for your last sentence, I should think that it depends on what tone you wish to achieve: one can pluck ("release the string" as you say) with a combination of nail and flesh (or just flesh in some cases, if one's nails are shaped properly), to produce softer tones than those produced by nail alone.

pmiklitz
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Re: Fundamental question about nail use

Post by pmiklitz » Mon Nov 14, 2016 5:02 pm

Lovemyguitar wrote:
Bill B wrote:yes. the flesh touches the string first, and prevents the noise that touching a string that is already vibrating with the nail only will make. the string releases from the nail alone, though.
:?: I am not sure that this is accurate advice, nor practical. Surely it depends on what the person is playing, because touching the string with the flesh first would effectively mute it prior to plucking it, and that may not be a desired result (as well as being rather awkward to execute at times). As for your last sentence, I should think that it depends on what tone you wish to achieve: one can pluck ("release the string" as you say) with a combination of nail and flesh (or just flesh in some cases, if one's nails are shaped properly), to produce softer tones than those produced by nail alone.
No matter how you touch the string first, it will always be muted briefly. The art is to keep that interruption as short as possible. However, with touching the string with the flesh first, you will prevent the nail click.

Peter
Dringt durch des Aberglaubens Nacht, die Euch zu finstern Köpfen macht. Christian Fürchtegott Gellert (1715 - 1769)

Bill B
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Re: Fundamental question about nail use

Post by Bill B » Mon Nov 14, 2016 5:40 pm

Lovemyguitar wrote:
Bill B wrote:yes. the flesh touches the string first, and prevents the noise that touching a string that is already vibrating with the nail only will make. the string releases from the nail alone, though.
:?: I am not sure that this is accurate advice, nor practical. Surely it depends on what the person is playing, because touching the string with the flesh first would effectively mute it prior to plucking it, and that may not be a desired result (as well as being rather awkward to execute at times). As for your last sentence, I should think that it depends on what tone you wish to achieve: one can pluck ("release the string" as you say) with a combination of nail and flesh (or just flesh in some cases, if one's nails are shaped properly), to produce softer tones than those produced by nail alone.
Watch the video. Its longer than my brief description and illustrates it much better. I don't really think this is at all a debatable point. I have never heard a serious classical player describe his technique of playing nail alone without the flesh. Perhaps you could describe Dedillo that way, but certainly not your default, normal playing technique. It just doesnt work very well, I don't think.
2013 Angel Benito Aguado
2005 Ramirez R-2

stevec
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Re: Fundamental question about nail use

Post by stevec » Mon Nov 14, 2016 6:47 pm

Thanks for the comments and the video reference. Very interesting and it pointed out something I was not aware of. That is that the filing of the nail is done in one plane (whatever angle and orientation that plane may be). I have been angling my nail file to create an angle to the end of the nail but have done that over the curve of the nail thereby constantly varying the file angle with respect to the axis of the finger. I wasn't aware that the angle should be constant. Now the question is; how is that angle determined? And presumably different for each finger.

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