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Finger nails

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Skel, Mar 6, 2006.

  1. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    I'm still a rookie when it comes to finger style playing. I have found that my finger nails need to be cut very short, and kept that way, or else I get a nasty "clicky" sound. Is this because my technique just isn't that good yet, or are there veteran finger style players here that need to have their finger nails really short like I do?

  2. I'm certainly no veteran, but I've got to keep em real short too. Actually I keep some nail clippers with all my bass stuff.
  3. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI

    I keep a 'Diamond Deb' file in my glovebox. If I don't use it for maybe three or four days, my nails are TOO LONG to get good tone!

    I also try to remember to use use a greasy hand cream once a day (I forget exactly what it is, but it's made by Mary Kay, and it looks like orange axle grease) - usually just on my finger tips, back over the whole nail, and to the first knuckle. I've run into problems before with getting cracked or flaking skin on my plucking fingers, and then they'll hang-up on the strings a little! I also don't like to get little hangnails on the sides, and the cream seems to take care of that too.

    In fact - over the years I've pushed-back the 'quick', so that the nails on my three plucking fingers are noticeably shorter than than on my fretting hand (more tip; less nail).

  4. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    I like to keep them short. If they get too long, I have to adjust my fingerstyle technique in order to sound the same.
  5. Just the opposite for me. I use my nails, and when they get too short, I'm unhappy. The optimal length gives me a nice ability to switch between a clicky-pick type atttack or all flesh for rounder tone.
  6. mothmonsterman


    Feb 8, 2006
    i bite my nails to stubs, so short sometimes it hurts to play, but it's a habit from childhood.
  7. Geo313


    Jul 17, 2004
    Yep! keep 'em short and as "bassguitar" says, get used to carry a nail clipper along with your gig stuff. Anyway, you could try an alternative technique in case of emergency as "Jazzin" says. In my case I do some practice slanting the bass a little (rising the neck), so I am able to pluck the strings in a similar way as upright players do, with the side of the fingers... it takes a while to get used to but it's worth it. Appart from the fingernails length, you get an alternate technique and even a little different sound.:smug:
  8. BasStefan

    BasStefan Guest

    i keep mine short, but sometimes if i want that clanky sound, i'll pluck downwards with my fingernail.

    or i'll pluck up with the "fleshy" part of the finger then go down with my fingernail.
  9. CrazyArcher


    Aug 5, 2004
    I keep mine moderately long, so I would have option to play both with the flesh of the fingertip and the nails. But indeed, when they get too long, it can be quite annoying, although I don't consider it a disaster.
  10. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Well, I'll know I've improved dramatically when I can get away with having long nails and not clicking everybody to death.

  11. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006

    I keep my finger nails short, simply because I don't want the chance of that happening. Also, if I do catch a nail, it isn't the best feeling or sound in the world...
  12. adam on bass

    adam on bass Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2002
    New Braunfels, Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Spector, GK, EMG and D'Addario
    I used to have that problem, I have changed my technique over the years to play with a little less agression and more feel. I get more of the string with the meat of my finger and lay off before my nail gets there. Make sense? It's almost like a herky-jerky tapping style but a little more defined.
  13. I keep 'em short.
    I keep some clippers in my gig bag, and it's almost a habit to give them a trim before we play. I sometime hold myself back to convince myself it's not a nervous habit!.... Thank goodness we don't play every night! :)

    p.s Also I never have a bath before we gig (don't worry - showers are ok!) because my fingers go all soft. I want them to be tough for a punishing night
  14. ibz


    Apr 14, 2005
    Columbus, OH
    I find that keeping the my nails short on my left hand is more important than the right, since when they're long on the left hand my fretting technique is somewhat harder and isn't as comfortable.

    I keep both hand's fingernails clipped so it isn't a problem for either hand's actions.
  15. Vorak


    Dec 6, 2005
    Madison, WI
    Mine are generally kept very short to avoid that nasty clinging noise other people here have mentioned but when they get a bit longer and I don't clip them I have noticed that with I use my nails to strum a chord I get a much clearer, more distinct tone.
  16. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    I think it has to do with your technique. When I first started, I always had to keep my finger nails real short or i'd get nasty clicking, but I had a show last night (and again this night) and my nails are longer than i'd like them to be because I keep forgetting to cut them, but i'm not getting any nasty clicks.
  17. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Yea, I think it's a finesse thing - the longer you do it, the more it becomes second nature, and your finger coordination just improves. I'm woikin' on it, but it's not a problem cutting my nails in the meantime.

  18. I always keep my nails short because I really hate that clicky noise.
  19. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    I'm all for not-too-long, but a good millimeter or two gives enough support behind the pad of my finger to get precision if I'm alternating really fast (or whenever i need a precise feel), while not being so long that they're in the way or keep me from getting into a nice warm fat pocket with the pads of my fingers.
  20. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    Short. Both hands. I can play with them long, but if I forget and get a little too excited and dig in a little too much...CLICK/TWANG!

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