Right side of the nails

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DTut
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Right side of the nails

Post by DTut » Sat Feb 02, 2019 12:50 am

Is it more common these days to play off the right side of the nails? It seems the YouTubes of younger players mostly play on the right side. I think previously most players played on the left side--Segovia, Williams, Bream, Parkening, et. al.

Is there some advantage to playing off the right side?
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Re: Right side of the nails

Post by guit-box » Sat Feb 02, 2019 4:51 am

I'd estimate that most players (90% or more) play off the left side of the nail, meaning they let the string slide across the nail from left-to-right. Segovia actually did both techniques, many times you can see him slicing thru the string from right to left with his a finger to bring out the melody.
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Re: Right side of the nails

Post by Jack Douglas » Sat Feb 02, 2019 11:44 am

DTut wrote:
Sat Feb 02, 2019 12:50 am
Is it more common these days to play off the right side of the nails? It seems the YouTubes of younger players mostly play on the right side. I think previously most players played on the left side--Segovia, Williams, Bream, Parkening, et. al.

Is there some advantage to playing off the right side?
Check out other discussions on Delcamp about Alice Artzt (also on utube) and Ida Prestii. Fascinating!
There are a few professional players who play off the right side of their nails and have amazing tone.
I’m a hobbyist player and was taught to play off the left side. I tried briefly to play off the right side of my nails; briefly..
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Wuuthrad
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Re: Right side of the nails

Post by Wuuthrad » Sat Feb 02, 2019 12:39 pm

I have no idea really. I've always used most parts of my nail
and fingertip, and thought this was part of natural technique.

It certainly affords me more timbre and tonal variation to do so, as well providing greater dynamic range.

That people would use only one or the other, or nails exclusively for that matter seems a bit surprising and quite limiting to me!

Although you can pinpoint the lack of tone of many players to only using the nail I suppose.
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Re: Right side of the nails

Post by guit-box » Sat Feb 02, 2019 4:57 pm

The trouble that one gets into with this kind of discussion is first defining what "right side of the nails" means. You end up with everyone thinking they have a clear idea of what this means but several people will define it differently and the discussion becomes meaningless.

Tipping the hand so the pinky is closer to the soundboard (supination) and the nail contacts more on the right side of the nail is not playing on the right side of the nails by my definition, it's still sliding from left-to-right off the nail, only the contact point is more to the right.

Playing off the right side of the nails (what some call Ida Presti style) involves starting the stroke on the right side of the nail and sliding over the string from right-to-left. In order to do both left side and right side playing, you need to have a rounded nail shape--like Segovia. The modern straight ramp nail where the nail is lower on the left side and follows a straight line and is higher on the right side (see Pumping Nylon) will only work with left to right plucking.
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Re: Right side of the nails

Post by guitarrista » Sat Feb 02, 2019 8:20 pm

guit-box wrote:
Sat Feb 02, 2019 4:57 pm
The modern straight ramp nail where the nail is lower on the left side and follows a straight line and is higher on the right side (see Pumping Nylon) will only work with left to right plucking.
You are right but I'd generalize this a bit to say that the ramp approach confines you to just one style of plucking - whether it is left-to-right, or right-to-left - in the same direction as determined by the ramp. Some players have left-to-right ramps on i and m fingers and right-to-left ramp on the a finger, necessitated by anatomical variations in how the fingers 'see' the strings.
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Re: Right side of the nails

Post by Rasqeo » Sat Feb 02, 2019 9:17 pm

guit-box wrote:
Sat Feb 02, 2019 4:57 pm
The trouble that one gets into with this kind of discussion is first defining what "right side of the nails" means. You end up with everyone thinking they have a clear idea of what this means but several people will define it differently and the discussion becomes meaningless.

Tipping the hand so the pinky is closer to the soundboard (supination) and the nail contacts more on the right side of the nail is not playing on the right side of the nails by my definition, it's still sliding from left-to-right off the nail, only the contact point is more to the right.

Playing off the right side of the nails (what some call Ida Presti style) involves starting the stroke on the right side of the nail and sliding over the string from right-to-left. In order to do both left side and right side playing, you need to have a rounded nail shape--like Segovia. The modern straight ramp nail where the nail is lower on the left side and follows a straight line and is higher on the right side (see Pumping Nylon) will only work with left to right plucking.
I agree with this. I’ve been experimenting recently with a more supinated hand position but it doesn’t feel like I’m playing off the right side if the nail. More it feels, as guit-box says, like the contact point has shifted to the right.

It definitely has some advantages - it allows more flexibility in the thump and my tremolo and arps feel smoother. The right hand also looks more ergonomic when I play in front of a mirror. The tone is slightly thinner but I think the reason for this is that my nails are shaped based on the way I played before so I need to find the right shape for the new position. I’m definitely going to stick with it.

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Re: Right side of the nails

Post by David Gutowski » Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:38 am

I see a lot of pros with fingernails shaped like little picks in the middle of the fingers. I assume they are plucking the strings straight up and not using any slice on the strings in either direction; almost like an acoustic guitar player holding a plastic pick only now with four picks attached-one on ea finger. Does anyone have any experience with this type of nail shape or insight on its effectiveness? (Before I start, once again, filing)

Thanks,
David
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Re: Right side of the nails

Post by guit-box » Tue Feb 12, 2019 5:26 pm

David Gutowski wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:38 am
I see a lot of pros with fingernails shaped like little picks in the middle of the fingers. I assume they are plucking the strings straight up and not using any slice on the strings in either direction; almost like an acoustic guitar player holding a plastic pick only now with four picks attached-one on ea finger. Does anyone have any experience with this type of nail shape or insight on its effectiveness? (Before I start, once again, filing)

Thanks,
David
It's difficult to know what you mean by "shaped like little picks" If you're talking flat picks, then some of those are pointy and some are rounded but most have a rounded-point like a Fender heavy pick. Some classical guitarists have a pointer nail but they are likely still ramping thru the string they just start the stroke farther to the left of the nail, whereas those with a flatter ramp start at a point that is still at the bottom of the ramp but it's slightly more to the right to avoid falling off the edge of the nail. Fingerpicks are a whole different issue, they go on the finger backwards compared to a natural nail so they ramp but in a different way.

This addresses some of the different nail shapes.

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Re: Right side of the nails

Post by David Gutowski » Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:27 am

I'm thinking like the flat fender pick shape only in the middle of the nail which, I'm assuming, would have to be plucked straight up without any slant either way (r or L). You would still have some flesh contact but without any ramp. I've seen videos of professional players with nails that look just like picks in the middle of nails only slightly rounded, not like the sharp pyramid on plastic acoustic picks. I want to try it but would take time to change back to the flat-ramp style if it doesn't work, so I need to get some input. I'm using a ramp now and have to almost "slice" the strings to get good tone. The pick idea might be less finger work by not having to do the slice thing and would give me better attack or smoother attack by plucking the strings straight up.

Thanks for the clip...I've seen it before and it did give me good ideas.

Best,
David
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Re: Right side of the nails

Post by celestemcc » Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:48 pm

Someone on this forum once described how to shape his nails, and I've tried this:

- put a chamois or some protective cloth over the strings at the soundhole;
- put an extremely coarse manicurists' file/emery on that at on that, at the angle your right hand fingers strike the strings, and
- "Play". Doesn't take long. Within 15 seconds or so you'll have your (supposed) ideal nail shape. At this point polish and finish the edges as usual.

One thing that surprises me is that while I play off the left side, my a finger turns a bit the other way and this method shows a small ramp to the right on that nail.

Your mileage may vary... but I've noticed I get a decent sound with this shape. If nothing else I try to shape it round-ish.
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Re: Right side of the nails

Post by guit-box » Thu Feb 14, 2019 1:14 am

celestemcc wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:48 pm

One thing that surprises me is that while I play off the left side, my a finger turns a bit the other way and this method shows a small ramp to the right on that nail.
Same as Kanengieser in the video, he talks about that resulting from the radial positioning of the fingers to the string.

Here's the nail filing video by Thomas Viloteau
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Re: Right side of the nails

Post by David Gutowski » Mon Feb 18, 2019 6:38 am

Trying the file on string tomorrow...thanks for the heads up...I'll just have to keep experimenting with it to get the best tone. I did notice most of the players have very low nails...have to try that too.

Thanks again for the videos and nail shaping info. I am familiar with shaping the nails but was wondering about making little picks in the middle of the nail.

Best,
David
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Re: Right side of the nails

Post by guit-box » Mon Feb 18, 2019 1:33 pm

David Gutowski wrote:
Mon Feb 18, 2019 6:38 am
Trying the file on string tomorrow...thanks for the heads up...I'll just have to keep experimenting with it to get the best tone. I did notice most of the players have very low nails...have to try that too.

Thanks again for the videos and nail shaping info. I am familiar with shaping the nails but was wondering about making little picks in the middle of the nail.

Best,
David
The closest thing I've seen to "little picks in the middle of the nail". David Russell's i and m fingernail look a bit like a Fender pick turned so the point is a little closer to the right side of the nail than dead center.
https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/786 ... grS9A.jpeg
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Re: Right side of the nails

Post by guit-box » Mon Feb 18, 2019 1:41 pm

Check out around 4 min. Pipa players tape little picks to the center of the finger with surgical gauze. Not exactly classical guitar, but interesting and possibly a way to try different shapes. She's not using the pick as a ramp so much, but that does not mean that a pointier nail shape can't be used as a ramp, it's all about the angle of attack and the starting point.
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