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How long do you keep your fingernails?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Peter McFerrin, Apr 18, 2001.

  1. I have no fingernails

    39 vote(s)
  2. Short

    125 vote(s)
  3. Medium

    21 vote(s)
  4. Long

    2 vote(s)
  5. Dracula

    1 vote(s)
  1. The length of my fingernails seems to have a huge effect on my tone. When I trim them all the way back, I get a bright and punchy sound; when they're somewhat grown out, it gets fat and warm (must be a rigidity thing); when they're way the hell out and need trimming, I get into Geddy Lee territory.
  2. CrawlingEye

    CrawlingEye Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Easton, Pennsylvania
    I keep mine fairly short, although, unless you're actually using your finger nails for something, I doubt it has much of an affect on your overall sound.

    Could be just something you're assuming?

    Btw. This is my 300th post WHOO HOO! ;)
  3. It's a strange one isn't it?

    If you're talking about your left hand I've heard that it's good to have the nails not too short as it helps support your fingers for fretting.

    But I've found that if they get too long I lose a bit of control - each to their own I guess?


  4. Idunno, it seems that as my fingernails get really long, I get a "second attack" on the string.
  5. BassDude24


    Sep 12, 2000
    I generally keep the two on my picking fingers short, this way I get the nice warm sound that the flesh of a human gives to the strings. I have recently discovered that if I keep them short enough, that I can doublestroke while playing fingerstyle with each finger. I use the fingerprint area for the upstroke and the area between the end of the nail and the tip of my finger as a downstroke (can only be done when trimmed as short as poss.) This way I get twice the speed for nice flowing journeys up and down the fingerboard.

    P.S. - Post #200
  6. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    I keep the right hand very short, and the left hand so short that I occasionally draw blood cutting to close. (not that I want to). I do that because if they get even a little bit long I notice a difference in how my fingers release the strings; it feels wrong. I do use them with a kind of backward raking motion on the upswing from a slap to play chords sometimes, so I have to keep them somewhat present. Anyway, enough rambling, they are VERY short.
  7. i keep mine on both hands as short as possible. I seem to have better control this way. I read in bass player though a guy who keeps his fake nails on his two right hand fingers so he can get a more picklike sound while playing fingerstyle.
  8. trainyourhuman


    Apr 12, 2000
    I keep my left hand nails short (fretting hand). On my right hand I like them long enough to be used in a pick-like manner when called for. I keep the thumbnail short. I really like the pick sound for muted runs, and having a bit of fingernail helps when you want to have both fingerstyle sound and muted pick-like sound in a single song. The nails are also good for down stroke chording while slapping.
  9. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I have an oral fixation. I chew on things. It's soothing, comforting on a highly subconscious level. Very Freud type stuff. Point is, I chew my fingernails, to the point to where there is nothing there. I mean, a little, but I have never had to use a fingernail clipper (for my fingernails at least) in my life.

    Well, you asked.
  10. Oh so i am not the only one!! I have a new friend. lol Mine got so bad, my folks even paid me to stop it. lol well me being me, did stop, got paid and went back again. :p

    I heard that if you do it from an early age, it can actually stunt your fingers, but who cares!. I try not to bite them, so mine always look like they're cut, still have a bit of white. lol


    Where's my copy of Silence of the Lambs?????
  11. I have to keep them nice and trimmed,at least on the plucking fingers of my right hand! lol Even a wee bit of nail growth and I can hear it.
  12. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Nail chewers of the world unite!
    I am more or less a fanatic when it comes to this. It happens that I bite them off so much it hurts. When this happens with my left hand fingernails, I won't be able to play bass for a couple of days. I know, it's incredibly stupid, but I just can't help it. :(
  13. Don't ya hate when one chews a nail off and its uneven so it becomes manic that it has to be evened up?? then it hurts. lololol

  14. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Yeah, I definitely get to the point where it hurts. Or I'll be chewing the darn things, and then the next morning in the shower, when that water hits that fingertip, boy does that sting. Blood happens on occassion. It's not pretty. I've done it my whole life, I've tried to stop, but several years ago, I came to the realization that; it doesn't hurt me, it doesn't cause permanent damage of any sort, it's soothing for some reason, and there are far worse habits, so who cares? If anybody has a problem with it, tough s$*t.
  15. Man this thread is like a support group. lol

    "Hi my name is Damien and i have an addiction"
    Fred: "i am addicted to cocaine"
    Bob:"I am addicted to heroin"
    Me: "I uhh hmm chew my nails" lololol

  16. I've been addicted to having my nails as short as possible for as long as I can remember. I think I used to bite them, and then I finally learned how to use a fingernail clipper. :p
    Now I keep one on my desk near my computer, and i tend to cut them about once every week, or 2 weeks. It depends how lazy I am during the week. :D:p
    In fact, this thread reminds me. I need to cut my nails again...:p
  17. Because I also play flamenco guitar, I do let my (plucking hand) fingernails grow out ever so slightly. I actually like having the ability to change the tone of my bass at my fingertips (literally).
  18. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    My fingernails are alwaus very short. Some guitarists find it strange that I have no nails, especially when I'm playing fingerstyle acoustic guitar. On bass, I find I get a warmer, fatter tone when my nails are short, which is the sound I go for. When my nails are longer, I get a treblier attack, kinda Chris Squire-ish. I think it's a great sound, but it just ain't me.

    Will C.:cool:
  19. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    The first time I let my girlfriend cut my nails it was painful because she cut them so short, they weren't bleeding though. :D I discovered that I prefer them that way for playing, especially the upright bass, I seem to feel more. On the electric it makes may sound more uniform with both plucking fingers.
  20. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player


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