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  1. #1

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    Hello, guys.

    I am studying hybrid picking and I found it very difficult because I don't use nails. I'm thinking about using fingerstyle approach with no nails at all.

    Could you point me jazz players that don't use pick and use only flesh to attack the strings?

    Thanks in addvanve

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Not recorded examples off the top of my head, but it's not uncommon. There are classical players too, that play with flesh. I play fingerstyle (with nails), as does a friend of mine who teaches at a music school here in Boston. I am fortunate to work and play with a number of very talented players, students, who have the same situation as you, decided to go fingerstyle and don't/can't grow nails.
    I'll just say it's a great sound, the softness of Wes, the flexibility of a full fingerstyle player. Yeah these kids get a great sound, and it's easier when you develop your technique right from the start. As a matter of fact, Mick, the guy I mentioned, has said if he weren't so invested in nail technique already, he most likely would have gone with a short nail/flesh approach if he could do it again. Just enough nail to bite the string with the edge, flesh to round out the sound.
    With the guys I've played with, it's a really nice sound, and the chordal options it opens up for you are huge.

    David

  4. #3

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    I can't help you directly, but I do champion playing classical guitar without nails. See rmclassicalguitar especially the Players page.

    However, when it comes to high-tension bronze strings for my acoustic archtop, I play with a plectrum.

    I have, though, in the past, played electric guitar without nails, with medium to low strings, 10s, and not had any problems.

  5. #4

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    And remember, it doesn't have to be all or nothing - either / or.

    When I was studying classical guitar with Aaron Shearer at Peabody Conservatory Of Music back in the 70s his approach was to use nail and flesh together at the same time.

    Your nails should be short enough that when you hold your hand in front of your face with your fingers perfectly straight you would just BARELY see your nails cresting or peeking over the tips of your fingers.

    You should also play on the left side of your finger tips where the flesh and the nail meet and round off your nails into your finger with a very fine metal file so that there's no chance of them hooking the string.

    Then you should polish them using grade 1,000 or higher "wet or dry" sandpaper that you can get at Pep Boys or a hardware store so that the sound is pure, full, and beautiful.

    You didn't say why you couldn't use your nails but I can tell you if you keep your nails short and care for them like I described above, you will have very little wear and tear or breakage.

    Hope this helps!
    Steven Herron
    Learn To Play Chord Melody Guitar

  6. #5

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    I agree with the above post #4. One doesn't need long nails, in fact, in my case I find the tone of longish nails on steel strings to be too nasal and thin. Longer nails on nylon strings help to produce volume and attack but are not needed for electric steel string. For example, below is a picture of Joe Pass' hands.

    Fingerstyle and hybrid picking without nails-bothhands-jpg

  7. #6

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    Yes when I was taught classical guitar my teacher advised me to use a combination of flesh and nail. I always found this produced the best tone, certainly on nylon strings.

  8. #7

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    Agreed, I'm a hybrid picker, and I keep my picking hand nails very short, just barely longer than "freshly cut."

    I often wish my nails were retractable, because I love a little more nail for nylon string playing, but I despise the sound on steel...
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  9. #8

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    Forum member Timothy Lerch plays without nails (I do too).



    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep View Post
    Forum member Timothy Lerch plays without nails (I do too).



    Very nice, I didn't know Tim doesn't use nails. I dig his music a lot.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tales View Post
    Hello, guys.

    I am studying hybrid picking and I found it very difficult because I don't use nails. I'm thinking about using fingerstyle approach with no nails at all.

    Could you point me jazz players that don't use pick and use only flesh to attack the strings?

    Thanks in addvanve

    Kevin Eubanks



  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tales View Post
    Hello, guys.

    I am studying hybrid picking and I found it very difficult because I don't use nails. I'm thinking about using fingerstyle approach with no nails at all.

    Could you point me jazz players that don't use pick and use only flesh to attack the strings?

    Thanks in addvanve
    1 )I don't care ...but you develop calluses that sound really good ( like that Wes guy ).

    2 ) This is still Virgin Territory for Jazz and other types of Electric Playing .( I mean contrapuntal etc)

    3 ) Because of 1 and 2 above AND for the very TECHNICAL REASON to avoid nails until you have your Technique working well-

    A] BECAUSE the ' sweet spot' or 'sweet spots' may be very small points of contact which do not coincide with where your nails are AND -

    B] BECAUSE most nails can not stand up well to PRACTICING for single lines and vigorous playing etc.

    C] Once you can play you will know IF you can add some nails to the flesh and how to file them etc etc
    AND
    D] You probably won't need them.

    Many use some nails on Steel Strings and even Acoustic Guitars but when you start playing *single lines for a few hours a day your nails probably won't hold up well - but better to add nails later than sooner IMO.

    * Lines on top with fingers and pick on lower strings for example ...

    This doesn't apply to Nylon - guys get great tones on Nylon with nails ( I could never get rest strokes to sound good on Nylon ( my limitation ).Even though metal strings hurt more at first they seem more forgiving to me for tone - I have callouses on extreme left of my fingers from pick and fingers and all fingers and they sound as bright as the warmer picks I use .
    Last edited by Robertkoa; 04-28-2019 at 10:53 PM.

  13. #12

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    I finger pick and hybrid pick without nails.’I think it sounds fine for jazz.

    I kept losing my fingernails playing Gypsy jazz.

  14. #13

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    No-nails can sound fine. But, if you do a head to head comparison -- one guitarist with nails, one without, on the same instrument, back and forth, I think you'll find that the guitar can come to life with nails. At least, I've heard that happen.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    No-nails can sound fine. But, if you do a head to head comparison -- one guitarist with nails, one without, on the same instrument, back and forth, I think you'll find that the guitar can come to life with nails. At least, I've heard that happen.
    Yeah but long nails are weird and gross.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Yeah but long nails are weird and gross.
    When I was a classical guitar major I was checking out at a grocery store and the cashier said with the most disgusted look "oh you got some nails on you huh." I explained and she looked at me even more suspiciously . I was like 19, so basically I was mortified.

    I actually filed my nails down to the point where they were barely noticeable after that so I played with about 25% flesh and the quality of my tone sky rocketed.

    When I hybrid pick now I just use flesh and try not to pop/snap the string
    White belt
    My Youtube

  17. #16

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    I do use a short nail on my thumb for harmonics but not for regular notes and I have a short nail on my pinky just to make that finger a little longer to match better my other fingers. here is a close up video of my right hand.



    hope this helps
    tim

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by TLerch View Post
    I do use a short nail on my thumb for harmonics but not for regular notes and I have a short nail on my pinky just to make that finger a little longer to match better my other fingers. here is a close up video of my right hand.



    hope this helps
    tim
    Thanks for that. Will look forward to your class.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  19. #18

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    [QUOTE=vashondan;860347]Thanks for that. Will look forward to your class.
    VashonDan,
    which class will you be attending?

  20. #19

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    [QUOTE=TLerch;860386]
    Quote Originally Posted by vashondan View Post
    Thanks for that. Will look forward to your class.
    VashonDan,
    which class will you be attending?
    Well I’m interested in the class you mentioned in your short right hand finger style video. Would love more info on cost etc.



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  21. #20

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    sorry about the confusion Dan, this is a video I made a few years ago so there is no class on this subject coming up. I will be doing a workshop on Reharmonization at the La Connor Guitar Show in May.


    Tim

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by TLerch View Post
    sorry about the confusion Dan, this is a video I made a few years ago so there is no class on this subject coming up. I will be doing a workshop on Reharmonization at the La Connor Guitar Show in May.


    Tim
    Dang! Well, thanks for clarifying.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  23. #22

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    I fingerstyle with no nails, generally. I don't own a nylon-string, so presence isn't really an issue. When I did own a nylon, studying classical in college, I trimmed my right-hand nails asymmetrically, as an experiment -- roll my wrist forward a little for flesh, roll it back for nail. It worked in principle but added another layer of thought to playing that didn't seem worth the trouble. It seemed much easier to vary my hand-position with reference to the bridge, with the added benefits of more nuance and less adjustment to technique.

  24. #23

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    Romero Lubambo told me he ditched the nails and was a new man ...this was a few years ago.

  25. #24

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    The biggest drawback on any kind of acoustic guitar is, more than anything - volume. On an electric guitar (or electrified acoustic) it's not an issue at all, so as long as you can produce a satisfying tone, go for it. I for one tend to prefer the tone produced by flesh on strings on electric guitar. Short nail/flesh on acoustic, and also for a range of articulation.

  26. #25

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    I have been growing my nails back for the first time in many years and they are now long enough to either be used all nail or a mix of nail and flesh. It is a huge improvement for me in every way and I have even been able to put down the pick for many tunes since single lines sound virtually identical between fingerstyle and pick now. I think everyone has a natural preference and some guys find it liberating to lose the nails. It is he opposite for me - it has opened up many doors. I already knew that I had more dexterity with nails but the tone is much better than I remember, probably due to many years of practice since last time. Also last time I didn’t grow out the pinky, only doing PIMA and now hybrid picking is not only easier but much more balanced sounding. I think it also is due to my having shaped the nails differently, having had more experience shaping picks to a shape that gives the tone I want has let me do the same with the nails.

    That said, not a requirement. Lots of great players in jazz using flesh and also classical players. But with an amplified guitar one of the objective main advantages of nails is lost since volume isn’t an issue. But for me that extra volume does translate through the amp since it balances better with my pick volume. It’ll be different for everyone so I think it’s worth spending some serious time with all flesh, a mix of flesh and nails and all nails.

    Also I was really happy to be able to switch from all nails to flesh and nails with just a different fiber angle due to the nail shape being longer on the pinky side than the thumb side. I didn’t know this last time I used nails so this is really awesome to me.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  27. #26
    I've been hybrid picking for about two years now and I never grow my nails. As a personal preference, I always felt that nails got in the way and I also felt growing my nails was too much of an uncontrollable factor as well as something that requires maintenance. I like as much contact as possible from finger to string not only for feel but for tone as well. I also grip the side of the guitar pick to keep as little of the tip sticking out as possible.

  28. #27

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    I've switched to very short nails, just 1-2 mm from the nail bed at most. I find my tone much more satisfactory and finger style technique is easier with the shorter nails. And I am much, much less likely to damage them in everyday life- I have thin and rather brittle nails, unfortunately. they also hook as they grow out, so shorter is better all the way around. Plus I am not spending 20 minutes a day dressing my nails any more.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  29. #28

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    I am a hybrid picker who plays without nails. I find the feel of the nails on the strings to be uncomfortable and have had a couple instances where I have pulled my nails when playing and that just hurts...bamboo under the fingernails anyone?

    So I keep both right and left hand nails really short. The sound of flesh on strings is fine and you can balance it well with your other fingers if you choose the correct pick.