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As the title says, do you play with fingerpicks, bare fingers, or shape you nails/use acrylic nails like a classical guitarist?

I shape the nails on first two fingers on my right hand. For a while I used a Golden Gate thumbpick, but I stopped so I could learn to play percussion parts on the guitar's top. Now I'm growing out my thumbnail to see how I like it.

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Replies to This Discussion

For myself I shape my thumb and first three fingers of my right hand. My nails are just to the edge of my fingers. That way I get the sound I like without sounding too much nail.
I use fingernails as well.

I think it really depends on the style you choose to play. I know there are some players here that use a thumbpick and find it necessary for the style they have chosen.

I don't like fingerpicks/thumbpicks because I like to go between strumming and picking. I also study classical - so I need to have the fingernails.

Donna
Thumbpick for blues (w/palm muffling), no pick but nails for anything else, I don't know how Laurence Juber can sound the way he does without nails, giant calluses on the fingertips I guess...
I use nails. I shape them to get just a bit with the flesh so I can angle my fingers and get a variance of sound. The thumb is kept the longest cause of the angle it attacks the strings requires it. I can and do use a pick when I play electric, but mostly its nails on steel strings. I do think it is a matter of style and what your goals are, though.
I'm still experimenting. I've glued plastic on my nails and that didn't do well. I've shaped them like Scott Tennant advises and that wasn't entirely for me although it stuck in my mind and I am building on that. Currently I'm letting my thumb nail grow as it has the most thickness of any of my nails and does well without breaking. For the first three fingers I'm letting them get even with the fingertips with the sides shaped less than what Scott Tennant wants and I do this to keep the nails from splitting. I've been learning guitar since mid July of this year.
I've used fingerpicks for many years, but my new guitar (Breedlove) has very low action and sounds very good with fingernails. I find that I have to fine-tune the shape of my nails daily, and then there is the problem of breaking one nail, in which case I have to cut them all back and start over, using picks until they are ready again. I've thought of trying out acrylic nails, as I understand some pros do.
Update: I ordered a set of brass Alaska Piks. These are completely different in that they go under the nail and can pick in both directions. I couldn't get comfortable with the thumb pick, so I've reverted to my good old Dunlop steel thumb pick. I think the Alaskas on my index and middle finger are going to be a good solution for me once I get a little more used to them.
I use a Fred Kelly speed pick (ala Chet) on my thumb, and acrylic liquid and powder to build up the I, M, A. My natural nails are just not thick enough and I only play steel strings. It is a chore and constant maintenance, but gives the best control and clean sound. I do a lot of straight up fingerstye, and flatpicking, but I have also started to developed a hybrid style where I can use the back of my acrylics for the strum and do some runs and fill ins using the thumb pick as a flat pick by bringing my index in just like you would a flatpick. This hybrid style is a fairly new thing for me, but I'm getting better at it all the time. It may eventually replace the plectrum altogether, at least on a six string. The secret for me is a short, thick acrylic nail polished like glass. For hard strumming on the 12 string, I will probably still need the plectrum.
Years ago I played predominantly nylon string guitars utilizing my finger pads and slightly longer fingernails. I found that clear nail polish and frequent filing for smooth edges worked well. As I gradually started playing steel string guitar, banjo, and mandolin....my nails were shredded so I started using thumb and fingerpicks and occasionaly flatpicks. I've pretty much given up on fingers alone unless I'm playing the nylon string guitar.
No thumbnail, natural nails on the fingers. I would grow a thumbnail but i do alot of other physical activities, and it tear or snag on things. Need to try acrylics someday.


Anton Emery
www.celticfingerstyleguitar.com
I play with my fingers (with nails). I think this probably came about by default because I started out with a classical background. I have tried a thumb pick but I find it really difficult to get comfortable with. Perhaps I didn't persevere enough as I have seem some players do amazing things with them. I keep my nails (inc tumb) just over the edge of the fingertip so I don't get too harsh a sound. Basically I think it's all about what sound you want to get and what you are comfortable with.
I keep the nails on my right hand only slightly longer than my left. If I get to much nail effect, I trim the nail to get rid of it. So, I guess the real answer for me is bare fingers/nails.

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