Question for Steve: RH nails

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by Funkateer, Nov 30, 2002.

  1. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    I learned on the BG technique forum that you have long RH nails. I am crossing over from 30 years of classical guitar, and first thing I did was clip my nails to get a 'fatter' tone. Am interested in how you use nails on a BG. How do you trim them? How do you achieve both flesh only and nail tones? My problem (I think) is that my RH stroke has been honed over the years to apply nails, and now, even though they are clipped very short, once I start to fatigue, get excited, etc there isn't much tolerance between flesh and nail, and I end up getting just enough nail on a couple of notes to generate a really nasty wolf tone. Problem also appears to be speed related, the faster I try to play, the more I try to use fingertips.
  2. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Hi Telemark,

    I do use my nails on my Right Hand - I keep them of a length where I can employ them or not depending on the angle of my wrist... I'll try and explain - I have my nails about 2mm long, but keep the edge nearest my thumb filed a little shorter... If I want to use them then I'll either use a sort of classical guitar picking technique, or play 'normal' two finger style, with my thumb on the pickup and my fingers pulling in towards my thumb. In order to not get the nails involved, I just turn my hand so that my thumb is on the neck pickup, but my fingers are plucking the strings nearer the bridge pickup... not sure if that's clear. I'll have to take some photos at some point to demonstrate what I mean...

    I also paint my nails which stops this technique from hurting or damaging my nails...


  3. Tosya


    Oct 11, 2002
    I also use nails in my right-hand technique, but probably differently than you guys. Because I have a more aggressive style of playing, I use my nails to get less of a "fat" tone and more of an attack sound -- almost pick-like, I guess. This is really hard on my natural nails, so I have artificial nails put on my first and second fingers. I also have one on my thumb, but that is to protect the top of my thumbnail because I do a lot of strumming. Although I have given up the ability to produce a thicker, bassier tone, I find that using my nails can produce a pleasing bright sound, either on my Rickenbacker or on my acoustic bass guitar, which can be unique and interesting.

    I have played like this for at least 10 years, and have a hard time playing with just my fingertips now. This can be a burden in the event that a nail comes off during a performance, but so far I've been lucky!!:)