middle finger nail shapes?

Nail care, nail problems, and the use of nails in playing the classical guitar.
DLMJ-1234
Posts: 48
Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2017 3:35 pm

middle finger nail shapes?

Post by DLMJ-1234 » Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:31 pm

got my index and ring finger in a nice shape ....

struggling with my middle finger... still sounds thin and weak on the strings

how do you shape yours?

FHC
Posts: 1086
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 4:11 pm
Location: Planet Earth

Re: middle finger nail shapes?

Post by FHC » Sun Nov 26, 2017 11:36 am

I keep mine shorter than all the rest.

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Yisrael van Handel
Posts: 561
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:26 pm
Location: Modi'in Illit, Israel

Re: middle finger nail shapes?

Post by Yisrael van Handel » Sun Nov 26, 2017 1:17 pm

DLMJ-1234 wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:31 pm
got my index and ring finger in a nice shape ....

struggling with my middle finger... still sounds thin and weak on the strings

how do you shape yours?
I have spent a year experimenting. So far, I have discovered the following:
  1. As FHC already said, keep as short as possible.
  2. I start by filing all right-hand fingers straight across on one plane. That is, hold the fingers together on the file, and file with fingers at about 45 degrees from the vertical.
  3. Always look at your nails with hand fully supinated; that is, palm facing you. This is what the string sees. The nails should just barely be visible above the fingertips.
  4. Create a slight downward slope to the toward the little finger. The point is that the string should release as soon as it touches the nail.
  5. The action is as follows:
    1. Depress the string to play, compressing the flesh of the fingertip. The amount you press down determines how loud you will play. When you reached the exact amount you wish to depress, the string should just touch the nail.
    2. To play the string, move the finger toward the palm of the hand. The contact with the nail should be noiseless, and release of the string immediately. To test, stop the string with a free finger, and see if you hear any nail noise.
This works for me. I play with the headstock relatively high and the footstool very high, so that in the natural position of my right hand it is nearly perpendicular to the strings. This makes it harder to achieve good tone, but is easier to play.
Nails and technique are very individual. It takes a lot of experimentation to get it right. Each finger has to be adjusted individually. You have to file often (I am lazy about this, and it hurts the tone). I recommend reading Scott Tennant's Pumping Nylon, Hubert Käppel's Bible of 21st Century Guitar Technique, and Stanley Yates'Classical Guitar Technique from Foundations to Virtuosity about nail shaping (and any other area of technique that you are not sure about). You will get three different opinions, which will give you good idea of the range of possibilities.
I hope this helps.
Yisrael van Handel
Modi'in Ilit, Israel

Rasputin
Posts: 742
Joined: Fri May 12, 2017 12:25 pm

Re: middle finger nail shapes?

Post by Rasputin » Sun Nov 26, 2017 7:40 pm

I find the sandpaper over the string method works well for finding the right shape, although it doesn't really adjust the length - you really have to get the nails down to about the length you want with a file, then shape them.

Regardless of the method you use, I think a nail shape is only truly optimal for one hand position / stroke type.

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