Cheerios4u98

Guitar - Fingertips vs Fingernails

14 posts in this topic

Random question but I was just curious since I've only recently started to learn fingerpicking on the guitar (I grew up playing blink so I only learned to play with a pick). Do you use your fingertips to play, or your fingernails?

I play with the flesh of my fingertips, but I can see why playing with the nails would be beneficial. The problem for me is that my nails are oddly curved and it makes picking with my nails really awkward and uncomfortable. On top of that I hate the feeling of picking with my nails. It feels almost like scratching a chalk board. Can't stand it.

When it comes to fingerpicking, how do you guys play?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not the bigggest finger picker in the world, but I feel that the best guitarists should probably NOT use their fingernails.  I wouldn't recommend relying on your nails.  The few instances that I dick around and fingerpick, it's always with the tips of my fingers.  I also feel that the nail would wear down and be a ticking time bomb for an unwanted slice to happen somewhere.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This guy seems pretty amazing and his fingernails look pretty long which leads me to believe he uses them. Shoutout to Beth for showing me this wonderful masterpiece.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I pick with my fingertips, and use my nails to strum. Something I do a lot is down pick the root note with my thumb, then up pick a few notes with my next two or three fingers, and then strum down with my nails. Usually like this:


 


Thumb, pick, pick, strum, pick, pick, thumb, pick pick, strum, pick, pick. 


 


Try changing chords with each thumb strike to establish a bass line. Then the picks can be a sort of accompanying higher melody or just repeated pattern, and the strum comes off as percussive. Written out, because I'm a drummer:


 


1               e               &               2               e               &               3               e               &               4               e               &


thumb       pick           pick           strum        pick           pick           thumb       pick           pick           strum        pick           pick  


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

using your nails is more for classical guitar, you're taught to use your nails for it - I constantly bite my nails which is why I quit haha. most classical guitarists are quite telling because they have longer nails on one hand.


 


I pick with my finger tips, like the majority of other people. if I ever strum without a pick, which is rare because I'm quite an aggressive acoustic guitarist, I use my thumb. if I used my nail I'd break it. 


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You guys are reassuring me that I do not need to learn to play with my nails. That is good, because I didn't want to. Haha.

My fingers are still suffering because I'm not used to this, so they're hurting quite a bit. Slowly building up calluses and strength though. It's getting easier little by little.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hardly ever use a pick. My nails are huge and thick, and I use all four nails to strum down. I like not having a pick in my hand because then I can walk the strings a bit on the upstroke.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think being adept at both is the best way really, if you're interested in a variety of styles of music. I love playing bass with my fingers for example because it sounds infinitely better, but because I play in a punk band I use a pick - it's just easier to play harder and faster with. 


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't know playing bass with your fingers sounded better. (I don't play bass so...)

The only time I've ever played bass was once at a local show when my friends' band asked me to play bass with them for a cover of "Lose Yourself" by Eminem. lol. Actually I guess I've played bass two times if you count the time we practiced the song before the show.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finger-picking is one thing I'd like to learn but haven't really put effort toward. Knowing that Lindsey Buckingham plays mostly with his fingers and emulating that is one of my goals.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't know playing bass with your fingers sounded better. (I don't play bass so...)

The only time I've ever played bass was once at a local show when my friends' band asked me to play bass with them for a cover of "Lose Yourself" by Eminem. lol. Actually I guess I've played bass two times if you count the time we practiced the song before the show.

 

It's the 'right' way to play bass, at least as far as I'm concerned, but it just isn't that feasible in faster music... or at least not for someone as talentless as me. it totes can be done I mean fuck look at Flea, but I'm too shit at it haha.

 

but yeah it's the more dominant way to play bass for sure it's mostly only punk and metal bands who use picks for bass.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You definitely don't need to play with nails, but in my experience it is easier and you get a much more solid sound out of each pluck if you use a nail.


 


I do a lot of fingerstyle, it's the most enjoyment I get out of acoustic guitar. When I have a gig coming up or I'm working on something in particular I let the nails on my right hand grow out quite a bit and I find it makes a huge difference for me. I tried using thumb/finger picks that you attach to your fingers but found them really awkward.


 


Having said all that I can still play just fine using fingertips but I'm much more prone to missing a note here and there or playing some muted notes, and it just doesn't have the same 'twang' so it just doesn't sound quite as good.


 


Once my nails get long enough I usually end up getting frustrated with their length and cut them right back, then I pick up the guitar and instantly regret it because my fingerpicking ability seems to go out the window hah.


1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started growing out the nails on my right hand as an experiment for this. The stupid thing is, I haven't played the guitar since I started growing them out, so now I just feel gross having long nails on one hand.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I play guitar with my nails, i found it comfortable. I play bass in a band and i mostly use a pick because of the style, it gives a trebley louder tone, wich is harder to get with fingers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now