Poll: Wich do you Use?
Poll Options
View poll results: Wich do you Use?
Finger Picks
2 3%
Fleshy tips of Fingers
30 49%
Natural Nail
28 46%
Synthetic Nail
1 2%
Voters: 61.
#1
What do you guys use for finger-picking, and what do you see the advantages/disadvantages of each?

Im trying to decide if I should grow my nails out, for a little more clarity in my pickin'.
Where the hell did slide guitar go!?!
Last edited by Srgt. Pepper at Oct 23, 2009,
#2
I prefer natural fingernails; Yeah, they're a pain to take care of, and breaking them is annoying, and a lot of my friends (and my mom) criticize me, but I don't really care about what they say. However, assuming you've got a nail file somewhere around your house, it's a lot cheaper than using fingerpicks/synthetic nails...and to me, it's much easier to do faster stuff than with your fingertips.

Basic way of saying it:
Advantages: Cheap, kinda simple, sounds pretty good, never have to put them on (like you would fingerpicks) and such
Disadvantages: Can break which causes much annoyance, need to take care of them quite a bit, the phrase "Oh crap, I just broke a nail" actually means something...
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#3
Look I play nylon string guitar, so I use natural nails. But, when I try the same for steel strung, it doesn't work out for me. Those strings were very very tough on my nails. I broke a nail once doing that, and most of the time picking with nails would file them. I would say grow your nails out a teeny bit, and get Alaska Piks (google it). They fit right under your nail and you can file the picks to the desired shape, and they're pretty darn cheap. Other than that definitely experiment with all of them, and see what you like.

No tone is bad when it comes to these things. With just the flesh of your nails you're going to get a softer sound, and like you said, you'll get "clarity" or brighter sounds with nails or picks.
#4
for 15 years i've worn acrylics to play, and they sound warmer, give you lots of control, are virtually unbreakable if maintained, there are disadvantages to them - having to make the time to get them redone (or they'll give you problems), looking a bit yellowish when they age, being thicker than natural nails can be an issue depending. and of course, some men are embarrassed to go to the nail shop.

i used to use my natural nails, but if you play a lot, they wear off, and of course if they snag and break, you can't play. nail strengtheners just sort of flake off while i play, and worse, they flake off into my guitar. NOT good if you're using an acoustic.

i don't care for the feel or sound of fleshy tips, but more important i find i can't finger pick as fast when using them. also for some reason i never develop calluses on either hand - they sort of start peeling off as soon as i develop them, so it could be an issue for me to play for extended periods using flesh.

i don't care for regular picks, although periodically i try to learn to play with them. it would probably take years for me to learn to play with them as well as with my fingers after over 40 years of playing with fingers. also even some of the good players i know occasionally shoot their picks out of their hands, sometimes into their guitars. also while picks can be faster, they sound less warm and can be forgotten or broken.

both fingerpicks and temporary synthetics have come off during play, and fingerpicks often pinch if they fit fairly well. i'm sure those who use fingerpicks extensively may develop control with them, but i just don't want to spend the many hours needed to adjust to them after all these years of playing. some, like annie difranco may duct tape the temporary synthetics on, but that seems a bit much to me. it must take some time to get used to wearing duct tape on fingers. besides, these methods can lead to you're not having what you need with you to play.
#5
Ilove the sound of nails ,, but there apain ....... i just play with what i got , i,m not on THE STAGE that much as iwas
#6
I use my natural nails
ADvantages-Sounds great,easy to maintain, Has never once broken off

Disadvantages-Expect people to ask about it
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#7
I use the flesh of my fingertips only because I like to fingerpick as much on steel stringed guitars (and electric) as much as I do nylon, and with long nails they'd be way too much hassle. Not like I'm playing in front of a bunch of snooty rich people... I don't need absolutely perfect clarity.
#8
i like clarity for my own ears. you can wear your nails pretty short and still use them to play - like 1/8 of an inch, and that's too short to get in the way.

Quote by Issor
I use the flesh of my fingertips only because I like to fingerpick as much on steel stringed guitars (and electric) as much as I do nylon, and with long nails they'd be way too much hassle. Not like I'm playing in front of a bunch of snooty rich people... I don't need absolutely perfect clarity.
#9
Totally true - but at the same time I'm a nailbiter (I know, I know) and I could never keep them there.
#10
I dont finger pick as much as i would like too. i plan on working more on it when i get my new guitar, but everytime i have i would use the flesh of the fingertips simply because i never was in to fingerpicking as much as flat picking. I wouldnt mind trying natural nails out but unfortunately for me i cantt because military regulations DOH oh well maybe one day i will.
I noticed on electric guitar that you can hear the sound of your flesh scraping the string when you finger pick with it. not so bad on steel string acoustic though which is what i primarily play.
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#11
Actually, debate between nails vs flesh attack almost always neglects to mention a critical factor:

The shape of every individual's fingertip.

Some players have fingertip shapes that result in the player always struggling to produce a clear attack, their sound will often be decribed as dull and their tactile feedback is often described (as in a post above) as being one of flabbyness. Their finger tips are rounded and when a nail is grown a millimetre or two free of the fingertip it will not be supported by the tip as well as those of ...
..others who are lucky enough to have finger tips that taper such that, with a little bit of short nail to support the very tip, a player can obtain a vigorous, purely flesh attak sound that is superior to nail attack in some respects (but let's avoid any pointless debate about which is best sound as both have strengths and weaknesses and different ramifications in regard to playing technique).

Individual nail shape will also have bearing on how succesful a player's sound is and how much effort is required in maintenance, should he or she goes down that route.

So it's in your genes folks.


Fingerpicks, well ... if you like to take a shower in a raincoat then you'll possibly like them fine.
#12
i prefer the flesh of my fingers, because i find it uncomfortable to use my nails, which are very prone to breaking, and finger picks, which can easily get lost. Also its free =)
#13
I use both depending on the tone i want...so sometimes nails (which i don't grow too long but still do the job) and sometimes flesh for a softer tone
#15
Fleshy fingertips plus a plastic thumbpick for me. I tried a full set of fingerpicks when I started out, and never got on with them. I've not managed to grow my nails either, they just break too easy.
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#16
Quote by R.Christie

Fingerpicks, well ... if you like to take a shower in a raincoat then you'll possibly like them fine.


hahaha, I tried finger-picks yesterday, and that is by far one of the most accurate analogies, I've ever heard round here.
Where the hell did slide guitar go!?!
#17
I can only play with a regular pick. I have tried many times to finger pick or atleast move to a smaller pick but I always end up back at my good old 2 or 3 mil picks most people consider to be bass only. I find I can play alot faster and more accurately with a pick especially since I have very squishy fingers I mute everything with them.
#18
Natural nails for me. That's the only way I can get the tactile feedback I need. But natural is a hassle because I have brittle nails. So to get past this I use "Hard as Nails" polish with "Nails for Men" over it so they're not so shiny. Like I said - major hassle and totally impossible if your 'machoism' gets in the way. (I don't share this information with my close friends.)
#19
Quote by GSteven
Natural nails for me. That's the only way I can get the tactile feedback I need. But natural is a hassle because I have brittle nails. So to get past this I use "Hard as Nails" polish with "Nails for Men" over it so they're not so shiny. Like I said - major hassle and totally impossible if your 'machoism' gets in the way. (I don't share this information with my close friends.)


I have pretty strong nails so I don't have to worry about that. But my classical guitar teacher (he's good, teaches at Juilliard here in New York), has this problem and he puts a small coating on his fingernails, only the white parts. What you do is get some super glue and apply a coating to the white parts like I said, and be careful to only put them there. Give em a minute to dry and then apply another layer of glue. I have tried this before too, works wonders. That glue will stay there for about a week, and you can file your nails naturally with them on there.
#20
You mean Fingerpick, flesh or flesh and nails?
We never play with nails only, you need to use a slight portion of you flesh to get the best of sounds.
That being said, if you're playing classical(nylon) you shouldn't use a fingerpick, not even for strumming :/
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#21
I use my natural nails, but I keep them short. I've always preferred the way that sounds and feels. So whatever category you want to file that under...