Shorter Nails = Better Tone?

Nail care, nail problems, and the use of nails in playing the classical guitar.
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Denian Arcoleo
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Re: Shorter Nails = Better Tone?

Postby Denian Arcoleo » Sun Oct 26, 2014 10:43 am

On the other hand a number of players noted especially for their great tone have extremely long nails. John Mills, Emmanuel Rossfelder and Zoran Dukic spring to mind.

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Re: Shorter Nails = Better Tone?

Postby clivepics » Mon Oct 27, 2014 7:01 am

Less is more!

guitar127

Re: Shorter Nails = Better Tone?

Postby guitar127 » Mon Oct 27, 2014 9:56 pm

Up to a point, I prefer longer nails. Both for the feel when playing and the tone.

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Erik Zurcher
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Re: Shorter Nails = Better Tone?

Postby Erik Zurcher » Mon Oct 27, 2014 10:08 pm

Denian Arcoleo wrote:On the other hand a number of players noted especially for their great tone have extremely long nails. John Mills, Emmanuel Rossfelder and Zoran Dukic spring to mind.


Funny that you mention these guitarists, Denian. Their tone is superb and it proves to me that long or short nails is not the issue, just personal preference.
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Re: Shorter Nails = Better Tone?

Postby John Gregson » Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:52 pm

Scott Tennant provides some guidelines on nail length and shape in his book 'Pumping Nylon'.

This advice is based on fingertip shape. I was pretty sceptical at first especially because, based on my finger shape, the advice was to ramp the nail in the opposite direction than I had been doing for 20 years.

However, my playing has improved as a result!

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Re: Shorter Nails = Better Tone?

Postby woodenhand » Wed Oct 29, 2014 3:58 am

This is also my experience. Looking at my fingers from the palm side, the edges of the nails barely show over my fingertips. For me, this is also a matter of good control: when my nails grow out a bit, I find it harder to maintain control.

But as with anything else, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Some people have quite long nails, but play beautifully. The variation in nail length and shape is a reflection of the great variation in hand anatomy.

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Re: Shorter Nails = Better Tone?

Postby electrictears » Sun Nov 02, 2014 3:50 pm

Erik Zurcher wrote:
Denian Arcoleo wrote:On the other hand a number of players noted especially for their great tone have extremely long nails. John Mills, Emmanuel Rossfelder and Zoran Dukic spring to mind.


Funny that you mention these guitarists, Denian. Their tone is superb and it proves to me that long or short nails is not the issue, just personal preference.

Good tone yes, but a clean sound? No.
Once you start paying attention to the 'ticking' sounds people with long nails make when they hit the strings it's all you seem to hear.
And another downside is octave harmonics over the fretboard, his nails hits the fretboard alot here.
Listen at 6:37


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Denian Arcoleo
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Re: Shorter Nails = Better Tone?

Postby Denian Arcoleo » Sun Nov 02, 2014 6:47 pm

Yeah, but I wouldn't challenge him to an arm wrestle :lol:

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Re: Shorter Nails = Better Tone?

Postby choctawchas » Thu Nov 06, 2014 11:23 pm

At 1:55 Grisha Goryachev discusses nail length....

http://youtu.be/F5u0rcXfsuE

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Re: Shorter Nails = Better Tone?

Postby kenaces » Fri Nov 07, 2014 1:11 am

Another factor is the strings you use. When I used to play on carbons style strings I had to keep my nails shorter than I do now playing with low tension nylon.
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Dirck Nagy
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Re: Shorter Nails = Better Tone?

Postby Dirck Nagy » Fri Nov 07, 2014 8:46 pm

i keep my nails short, but thats to avoid breakage. I'd rather have them longer because my fingers are quite round at the ends, instead of tapered…but thats the way it is.

Also, the longer my nails are, the farther back they seem to break, when they do. maybe its a leverage thing?
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Drainky
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Re: Shorter Nails = Better Tone?

Postby Drainky » Sat Nov 29, 2014 5:26 pm

I find that giving my nails a ramp shape and keeping them a wee bit above the pad of the finger reduces the scraping noise from wound and textured strings. However, the scraping noise is only reduced, is it ever eliminated? I've watch videos about damping strings to achieve proper length of note resonance but is there a proper method of plucking the string that eliminates this scraping?

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Re: Shorter Nails = Better Tone?

Postby Zach S » Sun Nov 30, 2014 7:48 pm

Drainky wrote:I find that giving my nails a ramp shape and keeping them a wee bit above the pad of the finger reduces the scraping noise from wound and textured strings. However, the scraping noise is only reduced, is it ever eliminated? I've watch videos about damping strings to achieve proper length of note resonance but is there a proper method of plucking the string that eliminates this scraping?


From what I've gathered, yes, you can work towards eliminating the scraping sound. Generally, you want to keep your right hand's posture constant for the most part, and when travelling across the strings, you want to be moving from the elbow. But, once you have the basics down flat, I would tweak them to your personal preference.

I've found when playing the wound strings with i and m (and even a when the occasion demands), by slightly angling my right hand so that the strings are perpendicular to the nails as opposed to angled to the side, I don't get much of the scraping noise, if at all (since I'm playing along the direction of the windings). It's nothing drastic, just a slight twist at the wrist that doesn't feel uncomfortable.

A good reference would be how your thumb hits the string -- if you watch closely, you will observe it hitting the string along the windings and not at an angle or against them. This is why you don't get any scraping with the thumb.

Hope that helps.
Last edited by Zach S on Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:16 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Shorter Nails = Better Tone?

Postby ashworth » Sun Nov 30, 2014 7:56 pm

Aseret wrote:
petermc61 wrote:I keep my nails just longer than the end of the flesh. Just, probably no more than 0.5mm. If they get much longer they start sounding brighter and thinner.


Same for me.


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Re: Shorter Nails = Better Tone?

Postby Luis_Br » Tue Dec 02, 2014 9:03 pm

At the moment I prefer short nails with my fingers.
Denian Arcoleo wrote:On the other hand a number of players noted especially for their great tone have extremely long nails. John Mills, Emmanuel Rossfelder and Zoran Dukic spring to mind.

John Mills doesn't seem too long to me, but I haven't seen him personally. But Dukic yes, really long nails and nice sound. Aniello Desiderio, Margarita Escarpa are some others with long nails and crystal sound...


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