Fingernail Length - friendly debate

Nail care, nail problems, and the use of nails in playing the classical guitar.
rickms63
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2018 2:27 pm

Re: Fingernail Length - friendly debate

Post by rickms63 » Wed Jul 25, 2018 2:34 pm

As much as I would probably like my nails longer I've learned the tipping point where the length will just lead to breakage. Nail breakage is my nemesis.

davekear
Posts: 408
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2016 1:12 am
Location: California

Re: Fingernail Length - friendly debate

Post by davekear » Sat Jul 28, 2018 3:18 am

Length of nails is important, but so is the ability to play well within a "length range". The more experience you get with controlling tone variability and timbre, the easier it is to produce whatever tone you wish with "long" or "short" nails. So there really is no perfect length. There is obviously too long or too short, but there's a good bit of leeway in between. And you simply adjust as the nail grows out.
Here's a short example of tone uniformity and variability that can be achieved with "long" or "short" nails. (Just not too long or too short) :)
First sample is a tremolo, in which uniformity of tone is so important. Has everything to do with proper nail length, and even more importantly, shape. If you don't have uniformity of tone with a tremolo, you'll get that gallop. Second little part shows variability on tone with the thumb, and third little part is a demonstration of variability of tone with i,m,a. You want to be able to get a nice warm "dolce" as well as a crisp, brilliant "ponticello" all with the same nails.

richay
Posts: 24
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2018 3:02 am

Re: Fingernail Length - friendly debate

Post by richay » Sun Sep 23, 2018 7:01 pm

im seeing a lot of great posts here. to answer your question shortly the biggest problem with really long nails is that they can often lag on the string preventing speed and technique properly. however this is not always the case. if you are somebody with very thick nails, why not have them longer? thick long nails are great for control especially with the thumb. also long nails can indeed produce more brighter tone

prawnheed

Re: Fingernail Length - friendly debate

Post by prawnheed » Mon Sep 24, 2018 1:46 am

davekear wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 3:18 am
Length of nails is important, but so is the ability to play well within a "length range". The more experience you get with controlling tone variability and timbre, the easier it is to produce whatever tone you wish with "long" or "short" nails. So there really is no perfect length. There is obviously too long or too short, but there's a good bit of leeway in between. And you simply adjust as the nail grows out.
....
I completely agree with this.

The real world prevents me from ever having nails of an "ideal" length.

Crofty
Posts: 287
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:32 pm

Re: Fingernail Length - friendly debate

Post by Crofty » Mon Sep 24, 2018 4:39 pm

I agree also.

It's also true that different nail lengths/shapes, on the same player, work better for some groups of pieces than they do with others - eg renaissance lute music vs. flamenco. As they also do on different instruments.

So ultimately it mirrors life - it's all about compromise.

JLV
Posts: 29
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2016 1:32 pm

Re: Fingernail Length - friendly debate

Post by JLV » Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:48 pm

Hi al,

Exactly as the issue about the shape of the nails, I think that we (most o f us before seeing the light :lol: ) are taking the subject through the wrong end.

If you use Thomas Viloteau's technic to shape your nails, you will ALSO downsize them to the exact NATURAL length that is suited for you because it is the way you play the guitar.
You do not have to dictate a "proper" "length to your nails and accommodate your playing to suit it but the contrary.

Here is a link.




Please share your opinion!

Best,
1970 Daniel Friederich
1914 Enrique Garcia

JLV
Posts: 29
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2016 1:32 pm

Re: Fingernail Length - friendly debate

Post by JLV » Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:55 pm

guit-box wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 6:58 pm
Check out Grisha's nails at 1:10 min. He has almost no nails. I'd have to conclude that speed is about the player's finger strength and coordination developed over years of practice combined with an anatomy that for whatever reason allows them to move the fingers fast. It's about skill and practicing the right moves for years, no doubt, but also some of us just will never have the ability to play this fast no matter what we do. Nails are likely not that connected to speed as we might think, but if they are too long or badly shaped and badly polished they might be inhibiting speed.

Grisha says that the spot you should hit the string is the the angle between two points, the nail and the flesh.
So imagine a triangle: string, flesh, nail.
In this situation, the length of the nail shouldn't be too long as it would slower the motion.

Grisha's is probably one of the best guitarist alive..
1970 Daniel Friederich
1914 Enrique Garcia

ronjazz
Posts: 998
Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:10 pm

Re: Fingernail Length - friendly debate

Post by ronjazz » Sun Oct 07, 2018 9:43 pm

Well, Grisha is an excellent guitarist, but nails need only be long enough to reach the string, and the idea of the contact point being flesh and nail is an old concept that doesn't work for everybody. There are many very fast guitarists in the flamenco and jazz worlds that have long fingernails, many with short or medium-length nails, some with none. Classical guitarists are also all over the map with nail lengths; go to tone-base or check out guitar-box's threads for slow-motion videos and see the startling variety of nail lengths and shapes. Speed has little to do with finger strength, that would apply more to volume; practice over many years is far more relevant, as well as finding one's own way to make the movements very quickly. Practicing in short bursts and chunks is better than practicing long scales, which can lead to focal dystonia and the end of a career.
Lester Devoe Flamenco Negra
Lester Devoe Flamenco Blanca
Aparicio Flamenco Blanca with RMC pickup
Bartolex 7-string with RMC pickup
Giannini 7-string with Shadow pickup
Sal Pace 7-string archtop

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