Snip snip! ... [no more nails]

Nail care, nail problems, and the use of nails in playing the classical guitar.
Conall
Posts: 675
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:26 am
Location: Scotland

Re: Snip snip! ... [no more nails]

Post by Conall » Mon Jul 23, 2018 7:51 am

tateharmann wrote:
Mon Jul 23, 2018 12:09 am
Conall wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 8:53 am

While I know I would really need months to get used to no nails so far I've come to the conclusions below:

- less "attack" / clarity / volume,
- less precise / more prone to missing or fluffing the strings,
- a smaller range of dynamics possible. With nails I can play loudly - plucking into the palm with the knuckle & 2nd joint (never tensing fingertips) but I just get a more "twangy" tone if I do that with no nails,
- less "Hispanic" tone - unfortunate considering I'm playing Libertango, Boccherini Fandango, Requiebros, (Cassado) & other Spanish & Latin pieces.
You've definitely alluded to it here but the key and the nail on the head (like you said) is to take the time to develop these 4 points with the new technique.

I did an experiment wherein I played the same little prelude on the same guitar right after cutting my nails off...and then again after working on the technique for 2 years. I feel like the results speak for themselves but here's a link so you can hear for yourself: viewtopic.php?f=83&t=115189

I experienced those same 4 points on your negative list there and feel like I have been able to either completely overcome them or get very close. I'm only on the 3rd year, though, so I hope it keeps getting better!
I listened to your 2 recordings - & I can hear a pleasant & positive difference between them as you say. There's an undeniable delicateness about good nailess playing. Rob MacKillop's playing is clearly a great example of this style.

But I'm not convinced it will suit my style in the long term, despite the above positive points. I also find the nailess sound I produce more staccato, presumably because the fingertip is a larger surface spending more time on the string than a well filed nail. The upper partials (or whatever the technical term is) produced are very different from those I hear when I play with nails and having got used to decades of one type of guitar sound I really can't see myself changing now.

The feel of no nails is a complete contrast too. At first it was painful - until the pads got harder & my hands seem to sweat more (though the current heatwave may have something to do with that!). I'm certainly more used to it now after even just a week & it feels ok now.

I have a few days until Thursday & my nails might grow a mm or 2 which may be just about enough (I normally play with short nails & I have a little length presently but not quite enough to clear the tips). Otherwise I might just file them down until I finish the last 2 concerts.

I wish all nailess players the best though. There is definitely a place for the style & I do love my recordings of the great (& nailess) lutenists!

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tateharmann
Posts: 1750
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:31 pm
Location: Saint Paul, MN

Re: Snip snip! ... [no more nails]

Post by tateharmann » Mon Jul 23, 2018 1:23 pm

Conall wrote:
Mon Jul 23, 2018 7:51 am
The feel of no nails is a complete contrast too. At first it was painful - until the pads got harder & my hands seem to sweat more (though the current heatwave may have something to do with that!). I'm certainly more used to it now after even just a week & it feels ok now.
Ouch! haha - I don't think it should be painful? It never was painful for me anyways...maybe it has to do with Rob's comment about trying to recreate your nail sound with flesh and pushing it too hard?

Anyways, if you like the nail sound better - play with them! There is a definite difference in the sound production but the tone differences aside, when you learn it well it can be just as loud, focused, and dynamic as nail playing.

Here's another one I did demonstrating tone color: viewtopic.php?f=83&t=113215#p1205841

Keep in mind that this is a Torres type guitar with gut strings so it will sound different even if played with nails!
"One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them."

mainterm
Posts: 350
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2008 6:36 pm

Re: Snip snip! ... [no more nails]

Post by mainterm » Wed Jul 25, 2018 5:31 am

tateharmann wrote:
Mon Jul 23, 2018 12:26 am
mainterm wrote:
Sat Jul 21, 2018 7:53 pm
<snip>
Oops, and I think I forgot to say that I think this sounds very nice, indeed! And the great thing is that, being so early, it will keep sounding better and better!
Thank you - little encouragements, all the while, make a marathon in the end...

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