Given up on fingernails...

Nail care, nail problems, and the use of nails in playing the classical guitar.
Bechstein65437

Given up on fingernails...

Post by Bechstein65437 » Sat Mar 26, 2016 9:57 pm

After years of struggling to find a fingernail length that works for guitar and piano, I've decided to give up on the fingernails altogether. My nails have never been strong and tend to grow out a bit bent, which sometimes causes a delayed release of the string (especially the i nail). The constant tapping of the nail tips on the piano keys was not only irritating, but also caused my nails to split and bits would flake off, leaving the nail tip too thin.

So now I'm trying to produce a clean, clear sound with only flesh. It's a huge adjustment and I'd love to hear from anyone on the forum who has had similar problems with fingernails...

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Big bird
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Re: Given up on fingernails...

Post by Big bird » Sun Mar 27, 2016 12:12 am

Not an expert by any means but look into Rob MacKillop. http://rmclassicalguitar.com. I think he will have the answers you seek. He is an active member of this site and a skilled and artistic player..... NO Nails..... He's my hero :chitarrista:
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hanredman
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Re: Given up on fingernails...

Post by hanredman » Sun Mar 27, 2016 12:20 am

I have had the same experience for years, and finally made the same decision. After hearing a number of professional classical guitarists playing with flesh, I am convinced that there is life after nails.
Joseph Redman
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dory
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Re: Given up on fingernails...

Post by dory » Sun Mar 27, 2016 12:38 am

Listen to Rob McKillip on. YouTube. You will be inspired.
Dory

dory
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Re: Given up on fingernails...

Post by dory » Sun Mar 27, 2016 12:39 am

Listen to Rob McKillip on. YouTube. You will be inspired.
Dory

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RobMacKillop
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Re: Given up on fingernails...

Post by RobMacKillop » Sun Mar 27, 2016 7:25 am

Well, it's nice to be mentioned under this subject, but as my website will show, there are and have been many classical guitarists playing at a high level without nails. I'm just one flesh player among many. For sure, it's a minority thing, but that's utterly irrelevant. What matters is the music you make, and the joy you have in doing so. I've had some strongly-worded, even abusive, emails and messages, from some nail players who feel I'm out to destroy civilisation as we know it :-) but it is the poetry that matters, not the tools we use to create it.

http://rmclassicalguitar.com

Charles Dog
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Re: Given up on fingernails...

Post by Charles Dog » Sun Mar 27, 2016 12:33 pm

I came to the same conclusion but with a different solution, Alaska picks. As good as nails, no,....better for me than flesh, yes.

wapolo
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Re: Given up on fingernails...

Post by wapolo » Tue Mar 29, 2016 1:54 am

I know that you've already decided to use the Alaska picks, but you want to experiment with just the flesh of your fingers. Rob was a great inspiration for me as well, and even though I've gone back to using nails, it was a very interesting and rewarding experiment playing with flesh for almost a year.

Sound
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Re: Given up on fingernails...

Post by Sound » Tue Mar 29, 2016 7:17 pm

The theme of playing without nails is very intetesting and important. And establishing of a website like this is a proper thing. But here we discuss this technique only concerning performance. I wonder, how popular it is in the system of the musical education?

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RobMacKillop
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Re: Given up on fingernails...

Post by RobMacKillop » Tue Mar 29, 2016 8:16 pm

I remember Pepe Romero saying that he thought people should spend a few years when learning the instrument, to play without nails, to establish good contact. I also think that is a good idea.

Scot Tremblay
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Re: Given up on fingernails...

Post by Scot Tremblay » Tue Mar 29, 2016 10:26 pm

RobMacKillop wrote:I remember Pepe Romero saying that he thought people should spend a few years when learning the instrument, to play without nails, to establish good contact. I also think that is a good idea.
I recently heard him tell the story...basically when he was young and had been learning the guitar for a couple years, he begged his father, his teacher, to let him grow nails like all the other guitar players but his father being a very mean father flatly refused and forced his son to play "nail-less" for a few more years before he would allow the little sprouts to protrude from the ends of the young mans fingers...I added a bit of colour but that is the gist of the tale. I think it was a very good decision on fathers part as Pepe has one of the most beautiful right hand techniques of his generation.

I've played with very short nails for many years. Not quite nail-less but just short of the ends of my fingers. Keeping ones nails this short reduces accidental damage significantly(very important what one is also a guitar builder) but there is still enough to be effective when I want to use nail, only flesh or a combination of both. Problematic nails are also much healthier if kept short and require less maintenance. I think it is good all around.
Scot Tremblay Guitars

"One picture is worth a thousand words. So, for me, one good note put where it should be put, will say what it will take some people many notes to say. ~B.B. King, 1986

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Debussychopin
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Re: Given up on fingernails...

Post by Debussychopin » Tue Mar 29, 2016 10:32 pm

Bechstein65437 wrote:After years of struggling to find a fingernail length that works for guitar and piano, I've decided to give up on the fingernails altogether. My nails have never been strong and tend to grow out a bit bent, which sometimes causes a delayed release of the string (especially the i nail). The constant tapping of the nail tips on the piano keys was not only irritating, but also caused my nails to split and bits would flake off, leaving the nail tip too thin.

So now I'm trying to produce a clean, clear sound with only flesh. It's a huge adjustment and I'd love to hear from anyone on the forum who has had similar problems with fingernails...
Im in your predicament as well. I find that a slight growth of nail (which I never had prior, always cut them way short) produces an amazing guttural sound from the guitar that reminds me of deep Spanish I dont know.
But it gets in the way on the piano. And unfortunately I have allegiance to the piano more so than guitar so Ihave to cut the nails shorter. But I had experimented w a slightly longer length on right hand p,i,m fingers only. I need to keep 4th and 5th fingers clear for piano definitely no matter what. Luckily i dont need the 5th finger for guitar and only rarely the 4th.

I am encouraged to read above that Pepe did suggest we learn without nails for the time being.

Yamaha GL1

yvonne.grunder

Re: Given up on fingernails...

Post by yvonne.grunder » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:52 am

My teacher advised me to cut /keep my nails short. He reckons it is better for developing the technique playing with the flesh first and then you can always grow them to improve the technique.

macberto

Re: Given up on fingernails...

Post by macberto » Wed Mar 30, 2016 10:14 pm

Big bird wrote:Not an expert by any means but look into Rob MacKillop. http://rmclassicalguitar.com. I think he will have the answers you seek. He is an active member of this site and a skilled and artistic player..... NO Nails..... He's my hero :chitarrista:
Awesome! Thanks for the link. I've also been having trouble with keeping my nails long and after looking at his site, I feel better about going short/no nails.

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RobMacKillop
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Re: Given up on fingernails...

Post by RobMacKillop » Thu Mar 31, 2016 7:01 am

Good to know.

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