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Bass guitar fingertyle with long nails??

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by lostintime, Mar 10, 2013.

  1. lostintime


    Feb 23, 2013
    Hello i started playing bass guitar a long ago(fingerstyle)but i also play classical guitar which means that i must have long nails.How much this will affect negatively bass playing(and sound maybe?)
    Thank you very much:)
  2. I feel that it positively effects my playing, actually. I have long nails on my picking hand just because I like the attack you get with a pick but I prefer to play fingerstyle.
  3. Schmorgy


    Jul 2, 2012
    I know that Geddy Lee often keeps one or two nails longer than the others for the single reason of picking strings with his finger.

    Actually, two bassists whose playing style is beneficial to people with long nails would be Stanley Clark and Les Claypool. Both make frequent use of a "Fanning" technique for chords where you flick 3-4 fingers across the strings (like a pick)

    Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1C2SFrwdq0&t=0m30s

    Whether or not you like Primus or that song in particular (he does use really dissonant 4ths to achieve his signature sound) it's a good demonstration of the technique.
  4. Double E

    Double E I ain't got no time to play... Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    I've experimented with keeping my nails long for bass playing, but they just wear out and break.
  5. Stealth


    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Double E, it's a genetic thing. Some people just don't have durable nails. Not sure if having an acrylic nail on top of the regular one would help - a manicurist could help out with that, though.
  6. The acrylic layer does indeed help. I go natural until they chip or crack or something (usually not from playing bass though) and then go for the acrylic to reinforce them.
  7. ^^^+1. There is a balance I try to strike with the length of my nails on my picking hand. The perfect length for me is where I roll my right hand upwards a bit to get that pick effect with my nails and then move my right hand flatter to the strings and use the pads of my fingers for an entirely different attack/sound.
  8. Try it out! If you don't like it, just cut your fingernails!
  9. lostintime


    Feb 23, 2013
    Thanks everyone very much for your answers!i thought that long nails would be a big problem in my palying but until now i think i even like it,i hope i won t change my mind!:hyper:
  10. Gilgland


    Mar 3, 2011
    As was said before, your nails will produce a tone similar to using a pick. The cool thing is that you can switch back and forth. The only trouble I have ever run into is my nails catching the string unintentionally. This can be corrected by practice and technique and by keeping your nails at a moderate length.
  11. Bass 45

    Bass 45

    Jun 23, 2011
    Tempe, Arizona
    I am also a classical guitarist/bass player. I am surprised there are not more of us - the technique translates nicely.

    I have always used flatwound strings on my basses. This saves my nails for the guitar and reduces unwanted noise on the bass.

    I find that playing with nails greatly reduces the force needed to get good tone/attack on the bass strings. I have been told many times from audience members that they can't see my right hand moving when I am playing the bass.
  12. Jaco Taco

    Jaco Taco

    Jul 30, 2012
    I started playing bass in 1984 and started classical guitar in 1986, since then, I've kept my fingernails out and have never looked back. I feel like it gives me the best of both worlds, I get the sharp attack sound that you get from a plectrum yet enables me all the versatility of playing with fingers.

    I'd also recommend playing bass with all four of your picking fingers (p-i-m-a) just as you would on a classical guitar. You'll be able to execute anything a classical guitarist can execute and do it on a bass, that's pretty good! :)
  13. crobasster


    Jun 16, 2009
    Summer beggins,so the guitar gigs also,when I leave my nails growing for guitar,I use my thumb for bass.Otherwise,I hate the sound that nails produce on the bass strings.
  14. I am not an active classical guitarist, but I have always kept my nails long since I took classical guitar lessons. I play bass that way and really like it. I get a nice consistent attack. I tried cutting my nails one time to get bassy-er sound and found that it threw off my timing (I was so used to playing with nails), and could not get a consistent sound/attack between my i and m. So now my nails are long again, and if I want a deeper sound, I just roll the tone knob down.

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