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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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I have always trimmed and filed the nails on my left hand very short, so that there is no problem from the nail hitting the
strings. I then trim the nails on the right hand to a medium length, leaving a longer, shaped nail on the forefinger and the
middle finger. I then slick up the edges of all of the nails with a fine file. I use a very expensive thumb pick of a medium
to short length that I have seen to be nearly indestructible. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of the pick as
there is no name on it. Five of them cost $10 but are well worth the money, as I have been using the same one for
over a year, where heretofore I would go through three or more through breakage or the pick getting limp and loose and
would fall off your thumb at the wrong time. Of course, all of this is just my opinion, everyone uses a pick that suits him.
Bare fingers/natural fingernails only, and I am a fingerstyle player.

My left hand regimen for my left hand is the same as Jim's, and my right hand emulate's Jim's procedure up until the thumbpick. I have string nails, and my right (picking) thumbnail stays somewhat long.

The length of the picking hand nails will change depending on if I am playing nylon or steel stringed guitars. I can get away with (and prefer) longer nails for the nylon stringed guitar, but they have to be trimmed back a slight bit for the steel stringed guitar (Seagull S6).

Now that I'm through the only season where I only play the nylon stringed guitar exclusively (Xmas music and parties), I'm sick of the acoustic, have cut all nails off, and now I'm hammering away on the electric for a week or two. I needed a (planned) change of pace.

I've gone back and forth between fingerpicks and fingernails for years, and eventually put the picks aside, Recently, I became highly frustrated with my own inability to protect those fingernails, so I started a lengthy experiment with fingerpicks again. Its almost like starting over.
What I seem to have settled on is Alaska picks, the ones that slip under your fingernails. These feel very wierd until you work with them for a while, then they feel very natural. It seems to me that the sound they produce is quite natural, too. However, there are times when you may be missing a fingernail, which means the Alaska pick doesn't work. for those occasions, I've re-taught myself to use regular metal fingerpicks, Propick or Dunlop, in the lightest gauge I can find.
Bob, where do you get Alaska piks? I had several sizes to try out and thought they were a great product, but I haven't seen them offered anywhere.
Hey Bob, I can understand your frustration and I faced the same thing so I have begun to play with clipped nails as well like Knopfler. Its nice to have nails but then you could work on the Knopfler style. Mark Knopfler plays with the meat of his finger (ventral side) and he derives some real sharp sounds. I could never get used to a pick or its striking sound when recording. Nowadays what with household chores and all its impossible to live with grown nails. I am quite satisfied with playing with my fingers sans nails
you can buy the same stuff for $2 and put it on yourself--it won't look like much, but the thickness and shape are up to you. and you do them whenever you want.
I use to play with fingernails and then I met a player named "Laurence Juber" and he advised me to just use the pads of my fingers and I wouldn't have to worry about breaking one off. It was the best advice I ever got. It took me awhile to get use to but now I love the sound and ease of playing with no nails and just a thumb pick. Give it a thought!
I wish I didn't need to use the nails on my right hand. However, I just can't help loving the sound using them. I do file and shape them so they do not snag and the shape is just what I want. I try to keep them fairly short. Just long enough to help me get more volume and definition from my picking. I've tried to use fingerpicks but they made me feel as if my fingers had grown a half inch. I am fortunate that my nails are somewhat flexible and strong. They also grow rather quickly. Many women are jealous when they see my right hand. I once tried a nail hardener, do not, I repeat, do not do this. It made them more brittle and more prone to breakage. In the past, before I ever had any gigs, whenever I broke a nail I would cut them all down and start over. Then I would practice with a pick and play scales and strum chords for practice. I use whatever I can to improve my playing and achieve my goals.
I've use everything depending on what it is I'm playing or what the style might call for.

As for basic nail care, I keep my left fingernails trimmed completely and the right hand fingernails and thumbnail are all filed as you would for playing classical (nylon string) guitar.

Most of this time I use a regular pick with my middle and ring finger when needed. When playing banjo I'll use the nickel finger picks. A Golden Gate or Dawg pick for mandolin. Classical guitar I use my finger nails. Finger style is usually all fingers but I'll use a thumb pick for some pieces.
Which picks are you talking about, Nancymae?
Looks like there are as many techniques as responders!

So to add in the mix, I keep the left hand trimmed very short, use a Fred Kelly thumb pic and reinforce the nails on my right hand. I have nails that break too easily on steel strings and have found that a fiberglass wrap on the last 1/8 inch for reinforcement prevents this. I get them here:
Yeah, i think the thumbnail is a better idea. But i guess it depends on what you are used to or grew up with. With a thumbnail, you can get a sharp bass sound. I grow my nails on all except the little finger and i have never used a pick in my life except to play pure rhythm.


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