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Nails in a post-acrylic world?

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Hello folks. I just realized that besides being out of gigs and students over this virus crisis, I also will not be able to get my nails done. (The nail salons are closed.) I suppose I could order acrylic stuff and learn to do it myself, left-handed. But since I won't be performing for awhile anyway this probably a good time to get rid of the acrylics for awhile anyway.
So -- suggestions for how to get a good sound without them? I have been using them for probably 25 years. I know about fingerpicks, never was good at using them, but could try again -- what kind you recommend? Any tips on using them?
What about just playing with natural (or cut way down) nails? Tips on getting a good sound (and not breaking nails) that way? Although I guess if I break a nail now it's not such a problem since I won't have a gig coming up!
Other ideas? Thanks! Chezz


The obvious answer is that it depends on your fingers and your nails and the sound you're trying to get. As for me, I found that there's a sweet spot when using bare fingers and nails, "the Goldilocks zone," so to speak. I suggest keeping them long enough so that they hit the string and make it ring when you want, but not so long that they're going to catch and break, especially if you're snapping the strings. Try using a sanding sponge in addition to a nail file or emery board. The hardware and big box stores carry them.

A zillion years ago a couple of people I knew would put gelatin in what they drank to help strengthen their nails, but it appears to have been a myth that has been debunked.

Whenever I break a nail I switch to "Pro Pik Fingertone" fingerpicks.  They have an opening so that you touch the strings with a mix of flesh and steel pick. You also have better contact/feel with the strings than with e.g National fingerpicks.  For me it's the closest thing to playing with nails.
Rob McKillop, a Scottisch guitarist specialised in anything between classical and jazz, prefers to play "nailless".  It can be done.  Check out his website on this topic

I've played nail-less, but not by choice. Auto repair, carpentry and woodworking made the decision for me.  :P

Parlor Picker:
I feel very fortunate that my nails seem to last out for the most part. I tried fingerpicks but didn't fancy spending many weeks of trying to master the art. My fingers just slid all over the strings. Over the years, I've been fortunate not to break nails often - even when gardening without gloves. I try to remember to wear gloves now. The nail on my second finger (I pick with two fingers only) has occasionally split, but I manage to salvage enough nail to keep playing. The weird thing is that even after it has grown out, it might split in the same spot some years later. I like to feel the strings when I play, so nails suit me in that respect. It still astounds me that my fingers know which strings to hit (I also touch-type, couldn't tell you the layout of a QWERTY keyboard, but my fingers know where the keys are - say a word and I type it automatically).


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