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Fingernail/Fingertip problem.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Thecomedian, Aug 16, 2012.

  1. Thecomedian


    Aug 16, 2012
    So when I first started playing, my index finger was perfectly fine and plucking and getting out of the way, after I cut my long fingernails.

    Now my fingernail has grown a bit, but is still less than one tenth of an inch long. putting an object perpendicular to my fingertip, both nail and fingertip touch, so my fingernails are barely anything.

    Yet Im still having trouble. my middle finger has essentially the same growth, but it's quite ridiculous. I keep scraping my index nail across the string while my middle finger can pluck away like a champ.

    I'd also state that my right hand is my off-hand in normal usage, so my left hand index is definitely meatier, but I still manage to scrape the string with either hand plucking from the correct "attack angle".

    I've also considered that perhaps my fingers have a bad angle to them at the fingertips, that they don't fill out all the way til the end but angle up and sharply decrease in size until the tip.

    the answer for now is to cut the fingernail, but keeping it that short all the time would actually necessitate a large change in habits just to play. It doesn't seem logical that I can pick with my middle finger without hitting the string at all with the nail of the same length.

    are there ways to increase the meatiness in the tip of my index, and ways to practice picking so the nail doesnt hit? It's barely a centimeter long.
  2. davidjackson


    Sep 10, 2011
    Really? Keeping a set of nail clippers in your gig bag would constitute a large change in habits? Think of it as one of the sacrifices you have to make in order to enjoy the wonderful world of bass. I have to clip the nails on my right hand once every few days but have managed to avoid this becoming a major change to my lifestyle. It takes about 6 seconds.

    Am I missing something?
  3. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Welcome to TalkBass. :)

    I'm a little confused by your question - 1/10th of an inch is a LOT shorter than 1cm.

    That said, if your nail is catching the string, it's too long. Just keeping it short enough to miss the string seems the most straightforward answer.
  4. Jools4001

    Jools4001 Supporting Member

    Unless, like me, you are a finger style player but just want a little bit of click from your fingernail.

    Either way, nail clippers are the way forward in making sure you get just what you need and no more.
  5. TNCreature

    TNCreature Jinkies!

    Jan 25, 2010
    Philadelphia Burbs
    Or tape a Vienna sausage to your fingertip.
    I think that is what Tony Levin does...
  6. rollyolly

    rollyolly Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2011
    I have this exact problem with my index finger. I pretty much need to cut my fingernail every time I pick up the bass. Its kind of a pain, but I could think of several more traumatic "lifestyle changes."

    Maybe taping the vienna sausage to your finger will also improve your slap bass?
  7. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    I find I clip my fingernails every one to two weeks and I thought I had to do it too often. A couple days? you people are freakshows! :D
  8. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    I was already trimming them for keyboarding (the computer kind) when they got to be annoying, but now I have to be a little more diligent and actually use clippers, instead of risking just tearing them off.

    For me it's as much on the fretting hand (for consistent feel)as the fingerpicking hand. I keep some clippers by the practice station. It's certainly something that has to happen more than before I started playing, but it takes less time than reading this thread.
  9. Kubicki440


    Feb 6, 2011
    Ways to increase the meatiness in the tip? Besides slamming your finger in a car door, maybe not. :smug: j/k. Use tape or a makeshift bandaid around the finger, perhaps? Sorry, I am still trying to visualize the shape of your finger(s) from your description.

    If you have a mirror--play in front of it, watch your fingers and make corrections? Is your index finger bent when playing, or is it straight so the inside tip is hitting the string?

  10. Kubicki440


    Feb 6, 2011
    I clip mine probably once a week. My nails are not even with my fingertips but well under them. So there is a good portion of meat (as you say) hitting the string and fingerboard.

    I often wondered how Dolly Parton played guitar with those nails of hers. :confused:
  11. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I was fortunate...I bit my nails when I was a kid and tore the quick down low enough not to interfere ;)
  12. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006


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