Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Jabinski, Feb 3, 2006.

  1. Jabinski


    Jan 30, 2006
    This might seem like a strange one but here it is.

    The length of the nails on both my hands is temporally inconsistent due to some long standing nasty habbits. When they are too long fingerstyle sounds almost like I have a pick and there I can play more accurately.

    When my nails are shorter it's harder to play intricate things precisely but the tone is warmer and in some ways nicer.

    So if I like both and want to only play with my fingers I've got to learn to keep them a certain length, probably between the two extremes mentioned above.

    What nail lengths do you have for playing and why? (ED: yes he did just ask that)
  2. 10 penny usually....

    I keep mine as short as possible. I play fingerstyle and can still get very articulate a focused tones by playing over the bridge PU and by the bridge. I also keep my left hand nails very short too. Except on those special nights when I want to impress the ladies, then I get a nice french manicure.
  3. Well, I haven't measured, but I do use my nails when playing and I find there is an optimal length.

    Mainly, long enough that by slightly changing the angle of my finger to the string, making my fingertip closer to perpendicular to the string, I can bring the nail into play.

    Short enough that by slightly changing the angle in the opposite direction, I can get all fingertip and no nail.

    Of, course you'll have to experiment to determine what this length is for you.

    In general, I've found that if I look at my hand with my palm facing me straight on and I can see any part of a nail, they need a trim down to that line. At that height I get the "dual use" mentioned above.
  4. Edwcdc

    Edwcdc I call shotgun!

    Jul 21, 2003
    Columbia MD USA
    I can't stand having my nails long on my right hand. I've had to file them down on bricks outside the club before if I forgot to cut them. I sometimes use the nail on my right index finger like a pick. I strike the string with my nail as if I were holding a pick. I think for this technique it would be nice to have a slightly longer nail but it would get in the way for 99% of the time.
  5. Jabinski


    Jan 30, 2006
    Beaver Felton has insane nails and everything he plays sound like he's using a pick. It can cause the attack to be very punchy and precise.

    Go Beaver
  6. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Chuck Rainey used his nails, and the distinctive sound made him very much an in-demand player in his day.
  7. Mine stay long enough to play with when I want too, but not so long that they scrape the strings when I use my fingertips instead.
  8. I keep the nails on both hands short, but especially the left hand ones, 'cause I play guitar, and I find holding chords quite difficult with long nails. The right ones I keep short just for sake of consistency, I've never liked using them as a 'pick'.

  9. rashbeep


    Jul 15, 2005
    Toronto, ON
    i keep my nails on my plucking hand long especially my thumb because it gives me a nicer sound, makes it easier for me to play, etc.
  10. Dbassmon


    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    Long nails on your picking hand will give you a pick sound. Could be cool if that's your sound.
    Like a classical guitar player, you've got a problem if you break a nail.
    Don't know of any players off the top of my head that use classical guitar technique ie long picking nails, but I'm sure somebody does.
    Probably easier to use a pick if you want that sound.
  11. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    I cut my nails down as short as I can. I hate when a fingernail hits the string.
  12. Bassic83


    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    I had mine surgically removed. Sure, it looks a little funny, but it sounds great! Tip- ask your vet to do this procedure, it's usually referred to as "declawing", and can be handled on an outpatient basis. Should be around $60-$100, depending on weight...;) :D
  13. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006

    I wish I could actually do this!
  14. Just goes to show - different strokes for different folks.

    My nails are an integral part of my sound, allowing me to get different tones as I see fit. But for some players, they are totally in the way!
  15. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    I do, mainly because I also play nylon-string guitar. The RH nails are not really that long, just long enough to make an impact. Most classical guitarists don't play with the nail alone most of the time: they use a combination of flesh and nail. That's what I do. And Cristo is right, there's an optimal length, or rather an optimal range of length. Too short = bad, too long = bad. Yes, it's a PITA when one breaks; it's like running a race with one shoe on. If I break one, I use a nail repair kit or a fake nail (I used to have a kit made especially by and for classical guitarists), or I swallow my embarrassment and go to the local nail place and have one put on.
  16. Never thought of a nail repair kit...but superglue can work in a pinch (assuming there's anything left to glue!)
  17. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    As short on both hands as I can get them. Having nail sound on my right hand gives me inconsistent tones and creates extra noise when I have to play fast (16th notes, 16th note triplets), which is pretty often.
  18. I do keep mine short, but if I want that nail sound, I'll use the back-side of my finger tip, the nail, almost flicking the string.
  19. I also cut mine as soon as I start to get annoyed by inconsistency in my right hand plucking sounds. For some reason, it's always my middle finger nail that gets to that 'too long' point first.

    I often wonder how people who don't play bass know when it's time to cut their nails? ;)
  20. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Canuck Amateur

    I keep mine as short as possible, both hands. Steve Harris (Iron Maiden) plays with his nails.