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Grow nails for better sound?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Bassistcali, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. Bassistcali


    Nov 10, 2013
    I read somewhere that if you grow you get a more meaty sound? Can someone explain why/how it helps? You don't hit the strings with your nails-do you?
  2. Dug2

    Dug2 Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2011
    that seems odd to me, maybe even painful (breakage). i dont see how it would enhance the sound. i keep mine short, and my nails dont touch the strings( on purpose anyway)
    Brazilfunk likes this.
  3. Carl_D

    Carl_D Guest

    I guess that depends on your definition of "better". For me, fingernails on bass strings are like running your nails down a chalk-board. Can't stand the sound and it makes the hairs on my neck stand up.:rollno:

    Nails trimmed short, for me.
    Daweedfx and Brazilfunk like this.
  4. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Ask to the person who wrote it somewhere I guess, because I never heard that.
    Other than Geddy Lee's mutilated finger I can't think of anyone playing bass with his nails.
    Brazilfunk likes this.
  5. Bassistcali


    Nov 10, 2013
    I can't even find where I read it... Mutilated finger?
  6. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    The guy I work for is like that. Long fingernails, plays light.

    Plays garbage gear through garbage amps...get's a tone so good I want to strangle him every time he plays. Think old school flat pick, Carol Kay, beginning of Hogan's Hero's, Silly Love Songs kind of tone.

    Do not think for one second that doesn't just irk the snot out of me.:D:
  7. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Bass strings and nails are not a good combination because of the weakness of the nail and the nail bed.
    Yes there are those that do it, but its a personal thing and like i said, just because their nails are strong enough to handle it does not mean your's will be.
    Add to the fact that if you lose of split a nail then you lose the tone you have been working on, so what do you do if your technique is more than one finger plucking based?
    Lifting and moving gear means it is easy to split or lose that nail, so why even go there when what you are looking for is consistency. if you want that in your technique then use a pick or finger picks..then at least you have a stable foundation for your technique.
  8. Wrilley


    Jan 2, 2012
    Detroit, MI USA
    I keep my nails just a touch long. I can play without striking, or hook my fingers to get a bite with a nail if I want. I've never tried playing fingernails full time, I do imagine it'd wear them down. But you could try fingerpicks perhaps?
  9. Space Pickle

    Space Pickle

    Apr 15, 2013
    haha, I clipped my nails to get a better sound. :) To each his own I guess.
  10. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    What he said.

    If you have a little bit of nail, like just to the tip of your finger, depending on how you play it can graze the string even though the bulk of the contact is with the skin. That will sound brighter. Similar to the difference between playing with rubber or felt pick vs a hard plastic one.

    I keep mine trimmed way back because that's not a sound that I like. But a lot of people do, particularly when recording harder rock stuff. Steve Harris has said in interviews that he does it in the studio, as well as Geddy.
  11. I trim my nails back. They would just get beat to hell in short order anyway.

    When I want a sharper attack, I use a pick.
  12. Cycho


    Nov 30, 2010
    I used to play with fingernails but I was also playing finger style guitar. When I gave up guitar I cut my nails short to get a better tone on the bass. I don't think playing with nails gives you a bad tone necessarily; it sounds more like playing with a pick.

    My nails are really strong by the way. I yours aren't don't try it.
  13. I'm a slob that will play till his finger nails get in the way. Then I use them for a couple of days for that zing that Harris and Geddy sometimes use. Then they get dirt under them and I pull out the clippers. If I was a paid player, I might take the professional time to keep them at the right length to use but not annoy (probably have to file 'em everyday). I think the technique can be useful. I'd rather use the edge of my nail than a pick for that ringing sound. Suck at pick.
  14. I like my nails to be a certain length not to hit the string (I've done that my nail shattered) but to support my finger tips to the end for a cleaner/faster release of the string.

    I'm married to woman and have kids :rolleyes: I just feel like saying that on this particular thread :ninja:
  15. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    Entwistle used to use a bit of his nails to give a little extra attack. When I was younger I did the same thing. I went so far as putting a little clear coat on my right hand finger nails. I read a quote from Eddie Gomez once where he said the one question he was surprised he never got in a clinic was what brand of nail polish he used. I had to fight the urge to ask him that.

    Rev J
  16. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    I have to keep my nails really short, or I get a lot of extra unwanted noise when I play. Especially on my plucking hand.
  17. I cut my nails right back to nothing, I hate the sound of nails on strings.
    Now I just hate long nails full stop

    I'd make a shocking transvestite
  18. JeffVanter


    Sep 23, 2012
    It sounds great for metal. As somebody who will only ever use his fingers to play, I like the sound of my nails if I may need a more 'metal' tone for my metal band. However, I prefer the warmth of the fingers any day.
  19. This for me as well. I mostly play flats and nickels so string noise and gank isn't so much an issue. When I really need attack, I'll grab a pick.
  20. Uhm, I'm secure enough in my manhood to say…
    that ending my post with the possibility of filing my nails because I suck at pick :eek: was heeelarious…

    I can take a joke:D