Snip snip! ... [no more nails]

Nail care, nail problems, and the use of nails in playing the classical guitar.
Conall
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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
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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
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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...

pksmith11
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Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2016 10:01 pm

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

Post by pksmith11 » Sun May 12, 2019 10:05 pm

I know I’m bringing this thread back from the depths, but I just want to say that I’m inspired by you guys (those who have committed to and stuck with nail-less playing.) It was a really tough call for me to make the chop. I’ve invested so many years, hours, conservatory tuitions, bringing my classical playing to a very high level. But I came to a place where playing electric bass was more important for my career than classical guitar. So I thought that I had to make the ultimate sacrifice. But I now see that there is hope in this venture and a light at the end of the tunnel.

I feel like a beginner again, which in some ways is a good thing. It’s nice to slow down and focus on the long road with classical guitar. To let it be a life-long companion rather than insist on being at my peak at age 31. I’m not yet anywhere near where I want to be with nail-less classical, but I’m finding the work I put in is taking my electric and steel-string playing to a new, more soulful and intimate level. I still believe I can get where I want to be on classical. It’s only been a few months.

Any kind of rectified string helps, which is annoying because I’ve ended up buying a huge surplus of carbons and nylons which are now useless to me. Sanding smooth strings helps, but Seems like a half-measure for some reason. I’ve tried old nylgut, which are okay, but a little dull on my main guitar. Tried some Aquila Sugar and Alchemia, but was sad to find out they’re smooth, not rectified. I have some Savarez White Card on the way. I’m sure I’ll end up on gut eventually.

I just wanted to add my voice to this small but growing choir of no-nails players. I feel that there is hope in this approach and I’m gonna give it my best effort.

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

Post by soltirefa » Sun May 12, 2019 10:49 pm

When I first read the "Snip snip" I thought this was a thread about a vasectomy.

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

Post by RobMacKillop » Mon May 13, 2019 6:09 am

pksmith - take your time. The first six months are the worse, and it took two years before I really understood the whole nail-less approach, at which point there was no going back. You will not regret it.

I did not realise that Mimmo made rectified sugar strings just for me, knowing I play without nails. That was very considerate of him, but I just assumed that's the way they all were.

After twenty years or more playing without nails, I'm convinced that gut is best. It might take a while for you to get there, but until then rectified nylon is the way to go.

Enjoy the journey, and remember, there is no requirement to have a vasectomy!

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

Post by tateharmann » Mon May 13, 2019 8:26 pm

I agree with Rob - gut is the best! But there are some nice alternatives, Savarez White Card being one of the best thus far.

You can play without nails on smooth nylon as well, but something about it just isn't as good as rectified strings.

I've been experimenting with that lately. Here was an attempt at it: https://www.classicalguitardelcamp.com/ ... 2&t=127459

Given the amount of responses on the thread, I'd say people generally agree that smooth (extruded?) nylon doesn't sound as good as rectified haha.
"One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them."

pksmith11
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Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2016 10:01 pm

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

Post by pksmith11 » Mon May 13, 2019 10:33 pm

Well, I think your tone sounds bold and consistent.

The rectified thing is interesting....I think it's part psychological. I never really used rectified when I had nails. When I tried them i thought they sounded dull, and the scratchiness on the nails was a bit weird, especially since I tried so hard to sand my nails to smooth perfection. I know how the guitar is supposed to sound with smooth nylon and good nails. No nails on the same strings falls brutally short.

But the texture on rectifieds somehow forces me to accept that this is essentially a new instrument with a new feel and new rules. I actually like the slight raspiness on the attack with flesh. It sort of brings some of the brightness back and helps me to readjust my expectations of what good guitar tone is supposed to be.

I could ramble on about all this. It's such an interesting journey. I guess that's what forums are for.

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

Post by tateharmann » Tue May 14, 2019 3:09 pm

I hear you - I never liked rectified strings when I was playing with nails either, so it may be partly a head-game. But I think the sound actually is a bit different as well. Here's an example: https://www.classicalguitardelcamp.com/ ... 2&t=125632

In this thread I recorded the same piece twice (first and last posts) the first was with Savarez White Card and the last with Hannabach smooth nylon strings. The recording was done in the same room on the same guitar - there's something about the smooth nylon tone that is lacking to me (sounds muffled or maybe 'muddy'). The rectified strings have a nice focused sound. Now, I recorded the first time without much practice and the tempo is a bit wonky - but if you use the example for a tone reference, I think you'll hear the difference? Let me know what you think.
"One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them."

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