What do you use? I suck, but use flesh. My nails are just too short, cause I used to bite them, and even though I quit a long ways back, I've always cut them short cause they grow so far back on my fingers. If I don't I get this long white nail that looks really long, even if its average... What do you guys do?
I have Eczema, so I keep my nails short. So flesh for me. If I'm like doing chords, usually nails. Otherwise, flesh.
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Yea I'm still a noob (like one month of playing) and it's hard for me to get it to sound right? Should I pluck harder, or will it just come with a lot of practice? Only song I can fingerpick is House of the Rising Sun, give me a break lol.
Its more of a preferance. Nails will give you a bright tone whle anf flesh will give you a softer tone. I use both.
Yea the flesh is definitely softer for me, too soft probably. It really makes it sound worse when my nail hits the string and the note just comes off so much louder.
I used to use Fake Nails but they Give off a bad sound...that what i think at least. And your Nails should really just be so short that the Flesh hits the string and the Nail hits at the same time. Here is a Guide i sound on nails.

The shape of a guitarists fingernails play an important part in classical guitar mainly, but also in the various other types of guitar if you fingerpick. In this article I will explain how you can shape your finger nails to get a great sound from your guitar.

Before we start, if your nails aren't protruding over the ends of your fingers, there isnt much in you reading this article. Yes, they really have to be that long! Your thumbnail should be the longest, long enough to cause alarm when your friends see it.

Equipment you will need:

01. A diamond/sapphire dust nail file. Usually about £1 from superdrug or the U.S alternative.

02. A nail buffer with various types of roughness on it. (Smooth Nail, Remove Ridges etc.)

03. (Optional) A fine grade glass or sandpaper.

04. Your guitar in front of you.

Ok, so your nails should be long enough to catch on the strings when you play by now, which is a good thing (sort of) as it means that your technique is correct, just your nails are too long lol. I will start with the method that I use to shape my nails.

Firstly, sit with your guitar in your usual position and place all your fingers (that you play with) and your thumb on one string, with your thumb in front-nearest to the frets. Then, keeping them in the same position, bring them up off the string and up to about eye level. Your fingers should still be together, and they should still be in a line. Grab your nail file, being carefull not to move your fingers, and run it across then ends of your nails. You should now have a small flat bit on the ends of all your fingers, not your thumb. Next, choose which finger to concentrate on shaping.

The reason we use a diamond edge nail file to shape our nails, not a metal one with a pattern, is because the metal ones damage the nail, they tear away the layers. As does cutting them, and using emory boards.

I always tend to start with my index finger, so I will use it as an example. Get your nail file and place it paralell with the mark you made earlier, on the underside of the nail, at an angle of about 45 degress. Then file. The aim is to get the largest, flattest area possible that will strike the string, giving the cleanest sound. The warmness and tone will come later. Then, once you are satisfied with the underside of your nail, smooth off any edges or corners that may catch the strings. Basically, you want the area that you've smoothed off to be the only thing that touches the strings. Once you have done all that, get your nail buffer and smooth and shine the edge of your nail, taking care to get all of the underside smoothed and shined. This will make a nice smooth sound, and will help prevent the strings catching if you pick it wrong.

Do the same for all your fingers, its the same method for all of them. Once you are entirely satisfied with your fingers, its time to move on to your thumb nail. I find this nail the hardest to shape, but it is the most worthwhile if you get it right. Place your thumb and fingers on the string, the same way you did before, and bring them off the strings in a line, the same as you did before, and mark your thumbnail in the same way as your fingernails, but rotate the file about 15 degrees to the outside of your hand, away from your index finger. This is the most important part of shaping the thumbnail. I repeat, rotate the file about 15 degrees away from your index finger, but still keeping it in the same place on the nail. Then file it in the same way, keeping the file at about 45 degreeson the the underside of the nail. Then treat the nail in the same way aswell, with the nail buffer, smooth then shine XD.

That is one method of shaping your nails, the other method is similar, but instead of using the nail file to mark your nails, you fold a square of fine grade glass or sandpaper over a string and play a few free strokes on it. This will mark your nails also.

Your nails should now be very smooth and rounded, but they wont be perfect. Each persons fingers are different, and I can only give you a guidline as to how they should be shaped. The only way that your going to get a decent sound is by fine tuning them, by constant tweaking and experimenting while your playing, until you are happy with the sound. Also, if you listen to a classical guitarist called Segovia, his tone comes a combination of nail and flesh connecting with the string, not just the nail.

If you make a mistake, dont panic, just wait a week or two then try again
If you ever break a nail so that its hanging off, stick it back on with superglue and it will knit itself back together.

Also, you may find it easier if you have no nails on your fretting hand, as they sometimes catch on the strings or something.
If i have to use finger pickin', i use finger picks. they wrap around your finger sort of like a ring. pretty easy to use too. I only use flesh on soft sounding songs or on acoustic.

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You will be hardpressed to find a classical guitarist that won't tell you that a perfect control of tone lends itself to the proper use of both the nail and the flesh.

This way, you are able to use either facet of your finger, depending on the requirements of the piece.
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At first I used my finger tips but as I cut my fingernails I found that my fingers didn't make enough sound or it'd slip off the string while I plucked it. Switching over to nails made it all better, but shaping them every week or so is annoying!
Quote by Dreadnought
You will be hardpressed to find a classical guitarist that won't tell you that a perfect control of tone lends itself to the proper use of both the nail and the flesh.

This way, you are able to use either facet of your finger, depending on the requirements of the piece.

100% ma'fackin correct.

DEFINATELY grow your nails if you are serious. I had a terrible biting problem too, so I just got fake ones put on. I'd probably break my teeth before I broke through them.

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I got finger picking nails to put on your finger, tried to get the hang of it, but I just use my flesh, I get a nice soft sound out of it.
If you grow out your nails for a while but then cut them off for rugby (we all have to make sacrifices) you'll immediately notice your tone and ability start to suck.

So do it if you can, but don't sweat it if you can't.
Thumb pick and nails.
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I use both, nails to accent certain notes and flesh for some faster arpeggiated (sp?) runs
Last edited by fendabenda at May 11, 2007,
Mostly because i lose all of my picks, but anyways. My thumbnail is about an 1/8 of an inch longer than my other nails for the very purpose of guitar playing. I've played like that for most of the two years that i have been playing. It sounds pretty good on my jasmine acoustic and fender-squier bass (electric)
i use flesh, i like the warmer and duller tone they give, but i strum with a pick most of the time
for acdc's song stiff upper lip angus(said in interview) uses his pick on the a string and his fingers on others i have tried and cant get it.(i have trouble finger picken and using a pick at the same time please help.
I cant stress to everyone how much better growing ur nails to play guitar is. It makes things go from quiet to loud. If u want to bring out the true tone out of ur guitar, its a good way.
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Both flesh & nails. That artical that GsKoRn1 stuck in the last thread page is spot on.
im surprised just how short my nails need to be to fingerpick properly. Too long & you get uneven sound, or one string jumping out at you. Too short & you get muffled softness when trying for harsh firm bass or crisp "tolling" shrieks of the high end. Bit if they are just right , you might find 'Goldie Locks' at your table assleep having eaten all your porridge.

The only other thing i would bring up in a fingernail sence is. Does anyone else have the problem after playing (fingerpicking) steel string. That it thins the very edges of the fingernails & makes them very , very sharp. You only have to go to scratch your eye , ear , nose , & you all of a sudden have a trail of blood dripping down your face or wherever.

big_d If you want to use the pick & fingerpick at the same time. Try instead of keeping the pinky anchored to the pickguard, hold your pick as normal, but place the base of your thumb against the top edge of your fretboard for an anchor. This leaves you three fingers to fingerpick with as well as your pick. It feels wierd at first (using middle , ring & pinky fingers) but is the only way i know of to achieve that particular AC/DC sound (also some Dire Straits/Mark Knopfler) music uses the same technique.

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i go flesh, i alternate too often between fingerstyle and picking be too concerned about my nails. I noticed when i juse flesh, if my nails are too long they hit the other strings and makes annoying sounds.
Wow I can't believe someone brought this thread back. It was one of the first things I posted on UG. I still use flesh, a few months later. Thankfully I'm still playing guitar over a couple of hours a day.
Thumbnail and fingers(flesh)
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I use flesh, I'm horrified by the site of long fingernails on guys, but I will concede they do sound better.
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