Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Nail care, nail problems, and the use of nails in playing the classical guitar.
msa3psu
Posts: 90
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 1:19 pm
Location: State College, Pennsylvania

Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by msa3psu » Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:41 pm

guitarrista wrote:
Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:28 pm
msa3psu wrote:
Mon Oct 30, 2017 8:43 pm
My nails do strike the strings as I shoot the fingers but if I try to strike all six or even five strings, then as the shooting finger straightens the flesh behind the nail begins to contact the second or first string after the nail strikes because the finger position is more at a right angle to the plane of the strings at that point.
Right, so try to strike a bit more downward into the soundboard so that the striking angle for the last string you strike does not quite reach the right angle you talk about. Also don't try to strike all 6 strings with a rasgueado especially if you are still learning the technique - the rasgueado notation is a bit misleading that way. You might end up sounding all six as a consequence from time to time, but don't aim to strike all six (or five) - and in many cases you are not supposed to despite how it is notated. Instead, practice aiming at the middle 2-3 strings, then the base strings only, then the trebles only. You will still get some of the neighbouring ones, some or most of the time, but this will focus your rasgueado and hopefully correct the angle a bit.
Makes sense because I'm happy with my sound on four strings but when I try for more especially in three and four finger avinico it really gets mushy so I think my angles gets too closed as I try to get the pinky and ring finger to cross more strings. I don't play much of the late romantic and contemporary Spanish repertoire but I would like to expand into it. Thanks.

ashepps
Posts: 637
Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:06 pm
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by ashepps » Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:10 am

glassynails wrote:
Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:45 pm
Hi I was just reading on Rob MacKillop's site in an interview with a classical guitarist that plays with no nails that she said Segovia said “When you play with flesh only, the flesh doesn’t bring a robust sound, that is why you need to have nails to support the flesh as long as the tip of the flesh, never over. For that reason we can dig into the string and boost the sound with power and good color. “This is playing without nails. Segovia taught me this nail’s-length technique. Then, I incorporated it to my tip shape to maximize the sound quality.” Should may nails only go to the end of my fingertips and not over? I also think that Scott Tenant also says something similar in his series.
I am not a great guitar player, far from it, but I feel the same way and really I do not feel comfortable any other way. I have two nails that slightly curve down so I have to keep them short, but I have played with them a bit longer. I would shape those two problem nails so I could play, but it felt crazy for me to use my now "long nails".

When I look at some guitarists and their really long nails I wonder why so long and how can they do it. But, I can't argue with their success, these guitarists are spectacular.

With me, from what I read now, I am now much more comfortable with what I am doing.

Just on or slightly over the flesh then I take the file and sandpaper to them! My thumb is just a little longer though, I am not sure why!

Alan
Alan Sheppard
1986 630mm Asturias JM-15 Spruce
1955 650mm Framus SL-32R
2015 650mm Yamaha SLG110N

dach
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2017 9:28 pm

Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by dach » Sun Nov 26, 2017 9:22 pm

I play both nylon - classical & flamenco, steel string and a variety of music on both. Nails have always been a battle. I prefer them extremely short for the nylon and much longer for steel strings. I try to get a happy medium between the two lengths but shaping them that way means I have to always play with the guitar on the right leg. Shaping them for the guitar sitting on the left leg gives them a slightly different contour and that doesn't work well with the steel string. I also do not stick with one hand/wrist position. It is always difficult to decide how to shape them but lately I have kept them on the shorter side. I seem to have more trouble with the "A" finger translating well between instruments and after 35 years I still don't have a shape that works.

PeteJ
Posts: 1072
Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2016 12:52 pm

Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by PeteJ » Fri Dec 01, 2017 2:17 pm

Denian Arcoleo wrote:
Mon Jun 26, 2017 8:46 pm
It all depends on the shape of ones fingertips. Segovia had fingers that tapered gradually upward toward the underside of the nail and flattened out dramatically nail side. This meant that only a tiny bit of nail was required to gain good contact with the string after travelling along the flesh of the fingertip. Other people have very round fingertips, like semi-spheres. With this finger shape a tiny amount of nail results in thin, scratchy tone and even physical catching of the finger on the string. So for round fingertips a longer length of nail is required to ensure a smooth transition from flesh to nail.
A very useful point - thanks.

User avatar
Denian Arcoleo
Composer
Posts: 6172
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2006 3:39 pm
Location: Somerset, England

Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Fri Dec 01, 2017 5:05 pm

You're welcome :-)

User avatar
Petemayo
Posts: 34
Joined: Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:14 am
Location: Kansas

Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by Petemayo » Tue Dec 19, 2017 7:58 pm

If they are too long they break for me too easily when working in the yard or whatever.

I like them about 3 mm of free edge beyond the nail bed.
Image

richtm
Posts: 141
Joined: Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:10 pm
Location: Hamburg, Germany

Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by richtm » Tue Dec 19, 2017 8:53 pm

I agree on the statement of approx 3mm free edge. However I think it also depends of the form of your finger tip (so even shorter might be right/good. Probably there are much more factors in like movement of the individual finger, angle to the strings etc. I also have to agree on if they are to long it's been proven by breakage, if I do tough work. All good points and proven for me by experience... :merci:
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ernest Köröskenyi 1977 Cedar top; Pauline Bernabe Especial 2007 Spruce top, 2012 Cedar top; Andreas Kirmse 2017 Cedar Double-top

ashepps
Posts: 637
Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:06 pm
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by ashepps » Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:33 pm

glassynails wrote:
Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:45 pm
Hi I was just reading on Rob MacKillop's site in an interview with a classical guitarist that plays with no nails that she said Segovia said “When you play with flesh only, the flesh doesn’t bring a robust sound, that is why you need to have nails to support the flesh as long as the tip of the flesh, never over. For that reason we can dig into the string and boost the sound with power and good color. “This is playing without nails. Segovia taught me this nail’s-length technique. Then, I incorporated it to my tip shape to maximize the sound quality.” Should may nails only go to the end of my fingertips and not over? I also think that Scott Tenant also says something similar in his series.
=======
Hi,the above is from the first post that would seem to say the optimal nail length from Segovia, supposedly, should be just about even with the flesh, now it is 3mm! Mine are 1 mm because of a couple of nails hook downwards and that is the best I can do.

It seems Segovia says that the nail and a flesh strike or release was the ideal. 3 mm long nails would be far from me having any flesh strike at all, but then, I am not used to 3mm nails!

Some are much, much longer, what advantage do they get if any other than to show to everyone that they play classical guitar or are asked why they have long nails on only one hand and then they can tell “I play classical guitar”! Again, I can’t even try it, maybe I am jealous. :)

Cheers - Alan
Alan Sheppard
1986 630mm Asturias JM-15 Spruce
1955 650mm Framus SL-32R
2015 650mm Yamaha SLG110N

User avatar
Petemayo
Posts: 34
Joined: Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:14 am
Location: Kansas

Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by Petemayo » Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:13 pm

I would love to play without nails because if I break one it is like losing a finger. But without nails I get more of a scraping sound than a pluck.

User avatar
guitarrista
Posts: 1274
Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2012 7:00 am
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by guitarrista » Wed Dec 20, 2017 6:16 pm

Saying "nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over" or referring to specific nail length is like saying "the best size shoes for walking is 41 narrow"(*). It makes no sense because obviously the best size and width depends on the size and shape of one's foot. For nails, it depends on the shape of both the nail and the fingertip underneath, in 3 dimensions. Since frequently these vary even between fingers, never mind between individuals, in practice this means that the length and shaping of each nail on the same hand could be different. William Kanengizer has a great educational video explaining (and demonstrating) this:

[media]https://youtu.be/TJ36c3_6jks[/media]

(*)
shoe-size-41.JPG
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Konstantin
--
1982 Anselmo Solar Gonzalez

ashepps
Posts: 637
Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:06 pm
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by ashepps » Wed Dec 20, 2017 9:48 pm

Thanks for the video, it was great and I find I need to do my ring finger the same for sure.

My question was not about the "proper size or taper of the nail" that I was getting at, but how does a guitarist do any justice to what they play with, Johnny Scissors Hands', 6-inch spikes!

I am not talking about the shoe size here, it's much more nebulous than that of course, maybe it is like the best size for a guitar fit using finger span and guitar scale length to get the proper guitar!

I am just asking why the extra long nails that many would think you would trip over!

Just kidding of course, but some nails that I have seen, I don't understand how their flesh can make contact with the strings and still get their nails out from between the strings in time to go to the next note. Why do they not catch, as you would think, watching the video?

What I am getting at is that I don't understand how very long nails can be of any benefit. It is hard enough with short nails to get the job done. How and why is it accomplished with long nails and for what purpose do unduly long nails serve?

Cheers,

Alan
Alan Sheppard
1986 630mm Asturias JM-15 Spruce
1955 650mm Framus SL-32R
2015 650mm Yamaha SLG110N

User avatar
guitarrista
Posts: 1274
Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2012 7:00 am
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by guitarrista » Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:08 am

ashepps wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 9:48 pm
What I am getting at is that I don't understand how very long nails can be of any benefit. It is hard enough with short nails to get the job done. How and why is it accomplished with long nails and for what purpose do unduly long nails serve?
As Kanengizer explains, it does not matter how long the nails LOOK. Their apparent length is tied to the shape of the fingertips and the way the hand and finger derive the sound. See his tapered vs. bulbous discussion starting at approx. 6:52 for about two minutes or so, in the video.
Konstantin
--
1982 Anselmo Solar Gonzalez

ashepps
Posts: 637
Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:06 pm
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by ashepps » Thu Dec 21, 2017 3:36 am

"As Kanengizer explains, it does not matter how long the nails LOOK. Their apparent length(two ill-defined factors) is tied to the shape of the fingertips and the way the hand and finger derive the sound. See his tapered vs. bulbous discussion starting at approx. 6:52 for about two minutes or so, in the video."

From the above quote - sub-quote - "it does not matter how long the nails LOOK. Their apparent length"

How long the nails look nor their apparent length tells nothing of what I am suggesting. I am simply trying to convey that some artists have excessive nail length and more than necessary as if they are pushing the envelope to be different. I cannot go on with this line of discussion as I am simply not getting my point across. Since I have started this point, I will have to excuser myself from it and bak away.

Cheers,

Alan
Alan Sheppard
1986 630mm Asturias JM-15 Spruce
1955 650mm Framus SL-32R
2015 650mm Yamaha SLG110N

User avatar
Denian Arcoleo
Composer
Posts: 6172
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2006 3:39 pm
Location: Somerset, England

Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Thu Dec 21, 2017 9:05 am

guitarrista wrote:
Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:08 am


As Kanengizer explains, it does not matter how long the nails LOOK. Their apparent length is tied to the shape of the fingertips and the way the hand and finger derive the sound. See his tapered vs. bulbous discussion starting at approx. 6:52 for about two minutes or so, in the video.
Yes, this is the crux of it, absolutely right. As I posted earlier.

User avatar
acmost9
Posts: 275
Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2015 12:32 am

Re: Segovia said the nails should only come to the ends of the fingers, never over?

Post by acmost9 » Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:59 am

That whole nail thing with William Kanengiser was a little freaky. :)

Return to “Use of nails in playing the classical guitar”