To what extend « no nails » is « no nails »?

Nail care, nail problems, and the use of nails in playing the classical guitar.
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Tomzooki
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To what extend « no nails » is « no nails »?

Post by Tomzooki » Sun Jul 15, 2018 4:14 pm

I am playing with very short nails, flush with the flesh, with the exception of my thumb nail which is a bit longer. The main reason is my nails are very soft and fragile, if I let them grow longer I am at high risk to break them. As a result the free part of my nails is very short, from less than 1mm (index) to about 1.5mm (ring finger). The fact is that, for my index and middle finger, if the nail was cut as short as possible it would still enter in contact with the string. It may be a result of my RH technique, I attack toward the soundboard.

So I am wondering if no nails players really have no nail contact with the strings, and if so how they manage to do it. Different RH technique? At the beginning do they cut their nails a little bit « in the flesh » to progressively get the beginning of the free nail farther from the fingertip (harpsichordists do that. Ugh...)?
Miodrag Zerdoner 8 string Stauffer-Legnani
Benoît Raby, Engelmann sp/Ziricote
11-strings alto guitar by Heikki Rousu, sp/indonesian RW

RobMacKillop
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Re: To what extend « no nails » is « no nails »?

Post by RobMacKillop » Sun Jul 15, 2018 4:38 pm

No nails means no nail contact with the string, but there is some variety in the length of the nail. For me, I keep the nails as short as possible. But some players grow their nail a little bit to give support to the tip. The nail still does not touch the string, but does help form a harder tip, which suits more aggressive players.

It also depends on the shape of the tip, the thickness of the flesh, what angle you touch the string, rest strokes, free strokes, etc. Fernando Sor hated nail playing, but he kept a tiny bit of nail for when he wanted to imitate the oboe, which he did by playing close to the bridge, and somehow engaging this little bit of nail. I've never heard an oboe sound like that, but he was an imaginative artist!

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Re: To what extend « no nails » is « no nails »?

Post by RobMacKillop » Sun Jul 15, 2018 4:45 pm

If you file your nails as short as possible, but still touch the string with the nail, then you must, I imagine, be curving the tip quite considerably. It sounds like you might be striking the string instead of releasing it. With the latter technique (which I use) the finger makes contact, pushes the string down and in a little, then releases it up and out, a bit like a rest stroke. Does this make sense to you?

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Tomzooki
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Re: To what extend « no nails » is « no nails »?

Post by Tomzooki » Sun Jul 15, 2018 5:27 pm

Thank you Rob for your answear
RobMacKillop wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 4:45 pm
With the latter technique (which I use) the finger makes contact, pushes the string down and in a little, then releases it up and out, a bit like a rest stroke. Does this make sense to you?
That is exactly the technique I use. But I think you are right concerning the shape of the tip and the thickness of the flesh:

Image

Image
Miodrag Zerdoner 8 string Stauffer-Legnani
Benoît Raby, Engelmann sp/Ziricote
11-strings alto guitar by Heikki Rousu, sp/indonesian RW

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Christopher Langley
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Re: To what extend « no nails » is « no nails »?

Post by Christopher Langley » Sun Jul 15, 2018 5:39 pm

You have pretty narrow fingertips. Also from my point of view, you could maybe cut/file your nails a little shorter. I cut my nails until there is no white showing on my left hand. It is not painful. I don't think I've ever hurt myself doing it.

I'm growing my nails out on my right hand, but my fingertips are fat, so I currently play with no nails at all.. they are not long enough to reach given my RH technique and the shape of my fingertips. The string rolls off the fingertip itself and never comes near a nail at the present moment. I tried to show this in the third picture.


Right Hand in it's current state.. trying to see if I can become a nail player.
20180715_123216.jpg
20180715_123234.jpg
20180715_123436.jpg
Left hand, notice how short I can get my nails and how far back from the fingertip they are.. if I do my right hand the same way.. it's nothing but flesh.
20180715_124737.jpg
20180715_124804.jpg
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RobMacKillop
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Re: To what extend « no nails » is « no nails »?

Post by RobMacKillop » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:12 pm

Here are my fingertips - only b&w for some reason...They couldn't be any shorter.
IMG_20180715_185737.jpg
IMG_20180715_185802.jpg
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Christopher Langley
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Re: To what extend « no nails » is « no nails »?

Post by Christopher Langley » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:18 pm

Superb example Rob. I think your pictures worked better than mine :)
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Re: To what extend « no nails » is « no nails »?

Post by RobMacKillop » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:19 pm

Similar, though, to yours.

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Christopher Langley
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Re: To what extend « no nails » is « no nails »?

Post by Christopher Langley » Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:24 pm

RobMacKillop wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:19 pm
Similar, though, to yours.
indeed! We belong to the fat fingertip club.

My dad is the leader of the club, you guys should see his fingers. They are three times as big around as mine are.
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guit-box
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Re: To what extend « no nails » is « no nails »?

Post by guit-box » Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:03 pm

Tomzooki wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 5:27 pm
Thank you Rob for your answear
RobMacKillop wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 4:45 pm
With the latter technique (which I use) the finger makes contact, pushes the string down and in a little, then releases it up and out, a bit like a rest stroke. Does this make sense to you?
That is exactly the technique I use. But I think you are right concerning the shape of the tip and the thickness of the flesh:

Image

Image
I think you won the fingernail lottery. Your nails can reach the end of the flesh without being very long and catching on stuff and breaking all the time. That's the ideal nail type in my opinion.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

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Christopher Langley
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Re: To what extend « no nails » is « no nails »?

Post by Christopher Langley » Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:10 pm

guit-box wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:03 pm

I think you won the fingernail lottery. Your nails can reach the end of the flesh without being very long and catching on stuff and breaking all the time. That's the ideal nail type in my opinion.
agreed.. I think I would rather have thinner fingertips so I could have shorter nails. You can trim nails... You can't exactly trim fingertips.. :lol:
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Tomzooki
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Re: To what extend « no nails » is « no nails »?

Post by Tomzooki » Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:16 pm

guit-box wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:03 pm
Tomzooki wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 5:27 pm
Thank you Rob for your answear
RobMacKillop wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 4:45 pm
With the latter technique (which I use) the finger makes contact, pushes the string down and in a little, then releases it up and out, a bit like a rest stroke. Does this make sense to you?
That is exactly the technique I use. But I think you are right concerning the shape of the tip and the thickness of the flesh:

Image

Image
I think you won the fingernail lottery. Your nails can reach the end of the flesh without being very long and catching on stuff and breaking all the time. That's the ideal nail type in my opinion.
That is the reason why I can have some nails to play even though they are thin as paper. My i has the most thin fingertip with the nail the most near the end, my a is more like anybody else's, and my m is somewhere in between. What is anoying is the tone difference resulting from the physical difference between them
Miodrag Zerdoner 8 string Stauffer-Legnani
Benoît Raby, Engelmann sp/Ziricote
11-strings alto guitar by Heikki Rousu, sp/indonesian RW

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tateharmann
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Re: To what extend « no nails » is « no nails »?

Post by tateharmann » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:02 am

I'll reiterate what Rob said here: no nails means that no nail makes contact with the string during the stroke.

And he's right on letting them grow out a little to give some backbone to the flesh or to be able to perform what Sor prescribed for imitating the oboe. I'll add another reason to that: if you decide to go back to nail playing you will be that much closer to be able to play again. At the length mine are, I'd say I'm a week or less away to having them long enough to play with nail. I haven't had to ever do that in three years...but I like having the safety net there haha.

I saw a comment somewhere on YouTube...I think somewhere on Rob's channel that mentioned playing with flesh for 6 months and then with nail for another 6. The gentleman said he just keeps alternating like that to keep his sound interesting. That's an option too.
"One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them."

guit-box
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Re: To what extend « no nails » is « no nails »?

Post by guit-box » Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:18 am

Tomzooki wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:16 pm
That is the reason why I can have some nails to play even though they are thin as paper. My i has the most thin fingertip with the nail the most near the end, my a is more like anybody else's, and my m is somewhere in between. What is anoying is the tone difference resulting from the physical difference between them
Mine are thin too. There are options to make them thicker. I use acrylics but some like uv cured gel nails and then some will put super glue nail gel on just the ends (Jason Vieaux) or on the whole nail surface. IBD brush on nail glue works okay and you can get it a beauty suppliers like Sally. Since your flesh to nail is ideal, (little to no gap between flesh and nail and the flesh is not bulbous like mine) you hardly need much, so it will not be difficult to make that little bit stronger with some glue.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

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Tomzooki
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Re: To what extend « no nails » is « no nails »?

Post by Tomzooki » Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:57 am

guit-box wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:18 am
Tomzooki wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:16 pm
That is the reason why I can have some nails to play even though they are thin as paper. My i has the most thin fingertip with the nail the most near the end, my a is more like anybody else's, and my m is somewhere in between. What is anoying is the tone difference resulting from the physical difference between them
Mine are thin too. There are options to make them thicker. I use acrylics but some like uv cured gel nails and then some will put super glue nail gel on just the ends (Jason Vieaux) or on the whole nail surface. IBD brus0h on nail glue works okay and you can get it a beauty suppliers like Sally. Since your flesh to nail is ideal, (little to no gap between flesh and nail and the flesh is not bulbous like mine) you hardly need much, so it will not be difficult to make that little bit stronger with some glue.
Glue doesn't work, with or without silk. The glue cracks and crumble as soon as I play, probably I think because my nails underneath are so soft and pliable. I used for almost two years acrylic nails but got severily allergic to it. To methacrylate more precisely. So now I am also allergic to UV gel, and a lot of nail glue brands, I have to be extra cautious about their ingredients.

Right now what works for me is Mavala Scientific nail hardener along with Ecrinal crème fortifiante et réparatrice. The Mavala stuff contains formaldehyde, which is a nasty chemical that can promote allergic reactions, but it is the key ingredient, and so far so good
Miodrag Zerdoner 8 string Stauffer-Legnani
Benoît Raby, Engelmann sp/Ziricote
11-strings alto guitar by Heikki Rousu, sp/indonesian RW

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