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Fingernails hitting strings (plucking hand)

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Stillwater, Feb 25, 2014.

  1. Stillwater


    Feb 18, 2014
    New Jersey
    Im just recently coming back to playing bass after a 5 year layoff of only playing guitar. Ive basically been able to jump right back in, however i seem to be having a strange problem.

    I cannot play fingerstyle without the fingernails of my right hand striking the strings at the same time as the pads of my fingers. This is of course affecting the tone, making it sound less like fingerstyle and more towards a pick tone.

    Now I have no problems with pick tone, but i want to be able to play classic fingerstyle tone also (when only the pads of your fingers pluck the string) like i used to.

    I have never had this problem years ago. My fingernails are already as short as I can possibly trim them. Im really scratching my head here. I wonder if my 5 year period of not playing has anything to do with it? :meh:
  2. I struggle with the same issue. But for some reason my middle finger(nail) is the trouble maker and I hate that sound! My finger nails are cut as short as possible also, its especially noticeable when Im really digging in. Not so much when I play sofer tunes. Ive found that If I strike the string with a more upward pluck, as opposed to striking it towards my body, it doesnt happen. But I have to be conscious of it which takes away from me paying attention to whats going on in the band. Maybe you can try that. ALSO, just when you think you cut your nails as low as possible, try filing them down further with an emory board. Give it hell!
  3. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    the angle of attack is important and you may also want to cut the treble a bit to reduce the effect
  4. bass_case

    bass_case Maintain low tones. Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2013
    Miami, FL

    I often tend to angle my wrist inward a bit so that my palm isn't parallel with the body of the bass. More so when playing nearer the neck. It alows my fingers to strike the string, rather than pull it.

    My callouses are well off the center of my finger, and I don't cut my nails that short.
  5. FerK

    FerK Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2011
    Record (video) your picking hand, and check for the attack angle. If the nail hits the string at the same time as the "pad", you're probably attacking with your tips. You'll be able to tell by watching yourself on the screen.
  6. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Clip your nails, dude! Personally, I cannot play without cutting my nails first. I hate the sound of nails on strings, first of all! Secondly, it's nothing like having a nail get caught on a string and getting torn off. Painful! I always clip them below the tip line.
  7. salsaslas


    Jan 6, 2010
    The extra sound of the nail, made me use picks instead. I think the angel is the problem och solution. Doublebassplayer use the side of the finger, but thats not easy on an bass. Twisting the wrist is solution but it doesnt come easy.
  8. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010
    Thank you, jeffbonny.
    The best and funniest post I've read in a long time. :D
  9. Strokerbass


    Aug 7, 2013
    Try trimming your nails and then giving them a once over with an emoryboard, concentrating on the corners of the nail. It worked for Jaco. I try to keep one in my gear bag at all times.
  10. ZenG


    Dec 13, 2013
    Near the fridge
    Just as a point of interest......it amazes me how many people refer to "callus" build-up on either hand....

    I've been actively playing my bass for half a year now....over an hour a day (sometimes more), seven days a week.....

    I don't have any calluses on either hand......and I fingerpick 99% of the time.........on roundwound strings.

    As far as nails go.......the shorter they are the less likely contact strings. Angle of attack could definitely be an issue.
  11. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Well, I actually make use of my nails. Just turn the treble back some to tone it down. No problem, IMO.