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runningplanet 01-27-2022 11:32 PM

Nail or flesh
Do you fingerpick with your nails or flesh? Iíve always used flesh because Iíve never been able to get consistent results using my nails. It may just be a flaw in my technique but I seem much smoother and in control using only flesh.

perttime 01-27-2022 11:57 PM

Flesh - with the edge of the nail possibly touching the string too.

Some of my nails are prone to self destruct without any reason, and I am NOT going to build them up by any artificial means.

blews 01-28-2022 12:08 AM

Bare fingers / fleshÖ.100% of the timeÖ.

Acousticado 01-28-2022 12:14 AM

I’m up to a 5-digit bare fingerpicker depending on the number of digits required, and use the tops of 4 fingernails in a flicking motion for downstroke strumming. To me, it’s as intimate and connected to the guitar as I can get...and it feels good. I like the mellower tone as well...picks sound harsh to me when I play, though I don’t seem to mind it when listening to others who play with picks.

skoshi84 01-28-2022 12:23 AM


Originally Posted by perttime (Post 6918230)
Flesh - with the edge of the nail possibly touching the string too.

I love playing this way. There is a sweet spot when you catch both just right. I donít like just nails or just flesh. But both together are great.

I trained for classical guitar and my guitar professor in college would probably cringe to hear me say that. We had a high standard for maintaining our fingernails in that program.

Big-E 01-28-2022 12:27 AM

Always picked with flesh and sometimes a thumb pick until about 9 months ago. Grew my right hand nails and now pick with the thumb nail and flesh/nails (with nails protruding about 1-1.5mm above the tops of my fingers.

MBee 01-28-2022 12:44 AM

I have very soft nails. So flesh always when finger picking. I do use the back of the nails for strumming though.

stormin1155 01-28-2022 12:46 AM

Flesh. My fingernails don't get long enough, and fingerpicks just don't feel right to me. I also like the softer sound. If I want a sharper attack I'll flat-pick.

Dustinfurlow 01-28-2022 12:47 AM

Gel acrylics, pinky left out. Wouldn't look back now!

pieterh 01-28-2022 12:52 AM

Iíve been fingerpicking with nails ever since I was a teenager. The only time I have my nails relatively short is when I am doing bass gigs or tours; the click with bass is not always ideal. Even then I have some nail protruding as a kind of support for the fleshy part otherwise the flesh gets blistered too easily when first doing a lot of bass playing!

The only time I use the fleshy part is if I break a nailÖ

Doug Young 01-28-2022 12:59 AM

Acrylics for decades.

JayBee1404 01-28-2022 01:15 AM

My own nails are very ‘girly’, soft and they tear/break very easily, so I used acrylics/gel/fibre-wraps on my finger nails for years, but had to give them up when my own nails thinned and became very painful. My nail-technician advised me not to use them again, for fear of doing permanent damage.

I tried flesh-only, but I hate the lack of attack and volume, and the dull, muddy tone of flesh-only, so I tried all manner of finger-picks before finally settling on Propik Fingertones, which allow the flesh of the finger to touch the string and warm-up the tone they produce. Those are my go-to now, with a thumb-pick (BC, Dunlop ‘Heavies’ Calico, or Golden Gate Ivoroid), and I’m very happy with the volume, attack, and warmer tone I get with them.

s2y 01-28-2022 05:56 AM

My nails are too thin and wimpy. I tried adding some sort of acrylic back in the day and playing bass still ripped off the nails.

EZYPIKINS 01-28-2022 06:04 AM

Short answer is Yes.

Sometimes flesh, sometimes nails.

All depends on what the song is asking for.

ismaelbelda 01-28-2022 06:06 AM

Flesh + nails, thumb pick. Although sometimes, if I have been playing too savagely, I run out of nails and have to give them some rest to grow back (flatpicking for a while). I don't like the sound or the feel or only nails or only flesh.

By the way, does anybody know of some strenghtening product for nails that works? My nails are not super wimpy, but, as stated above, sometimes I am disconsiderate with them. (I won't do the acrilic thing, as it weakens your natural nails, so you have to stick to it for life).

koko61 01-28-2022 06:19 AM

I use nails and meat together, with very short nails. I learned to play classical guitar like this and I like the sound I get.

buddyhu 01-28-2022 06:32 AM

Played with Propik fingerpicks (on two fingers) and a thumb pick for a number of years. Switched to flesh only (3 fingers and thumb) about a year ago at the urging of my guitar teacher. As I have developed calluses on my picking fingers and get more precise with the right hand, I am really like if the results.

ewalling 01-28-2022 06:37 AM

Flesh just catching the nail for a little extra definition.

However, with steel string guitars these days, I often use a plastic Kelly thumbpick with three metal Dunlop fingerpicks. These provide even more definition plus added volume. They also save my nails from cracking or wearing down. For nylon string guitars, I never use picks.

The Bard Rocks 01-28-2022 06:56 AM


Originally Posted by Acousticado (Post 6918238)
Iím up to a 5-digit bare fingerpicker depending on the number of digits required, and use the tops of 4 fingernails in a flicking motion for downstroke strumming. To me, itís as intimate and connected to the guitar as I can get...and it feels good. I like the mellower tone as well...picks sound harsh to me when I play, though I donít seem to mind it when listening to others who play with picks.

I frequently use the back of my nails in a down strike, which makes fingerpicks go flying. It gives me volume and speed in some instances. I also blame if for why the fingernails on my right need a lot more attention than those on the left, which in turn has something to do with the use for flesh instead of nail in melody notes.

Bob from Brooklyn 01-28-2022 07:08 AM

I am a 100% flesh player. I have a nail clipper nearby, ready for the first hint of any nail in my playing.

Nymuso 01-28-2022 07:42 AM

Plastic thumb pick and two brass finger picks.

Oh, I tried growing nails back in the day but found out very quickly while working on my car the pitfalls of long fingernails, and decided I didn't want to go through life like that. Bare flesh? Really don't care for the tone, but that's the way I play bass.

mattwood 01-28-2022 07:53 AM

Flesh and a little nail is what gives me the tone I'm looking for. The key is very short nails that are maintained regularly with a Wolfram nail file

Gitfiddlemann 01-28-2022 07:59 AM

Regular nails, which are pretty strong.
But, there's absolutely nothing wrong with playing without them. Just listen to Laurence Juber. His tone is fantastic without them. And so is the classical player Rod MacKillop.
You don't need nails to be musical in your playing. That's a fact. You just need to pluck the strings with technique and conviction. If you don't it will sound thin and unappealing, but that's true of nails too.

TBman 01-28-2022 08:00 AM

Usually just bare fingers. Sometimes I can manage a bit of nail, but that doesn't last long.

fazool 01-28-2022 08:44 AM

flesh with a little strengthening by nails backing the flesh

Jim Comeaux 01-28-2022 08:44 AM

Neither nor, I am a recovering banjo player and I just got used to the three finger rolls of Scruggs style playing. ThemScruggs style rolls donít really translate to a melodic guitar type sound, but I am going to experiment with it. I am just starting to try fingerpicking, having played with a flatpick on both guitar and mandolin, so all of that is subject to the learning curve (no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy) I use a brass thumbpick and two steel fingerpicks. I just like the sound of that combination, but again we will see how it translates to the guitar.

JERZEY 01-28-2022 02:38 PM

Its different for everyone. We all have different finger sizes, shapes and nail variations. I have to file every day or its brash city. I used to use acrylic powder. I also used super glue gel. I just dont have the patience for any of it anymore. I still have to file daily so that I do. Sadly I dont have a choice. If I cut my nails I have no attack. Its thud thud thud.

Ck1994 01-28-2022 03:42 PM

Depends on what sound you're going for
I think it really depends on what sound you're going for ĖĖI find that flesh gives that softer, sweeter sound and nail gives a harder, more energetic sound (each are good for different situations).

In general, I usually find myself playing rhythm stuff more with the nails and lead stuff more with the flesh.


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dspoel 01-28-2022 03:53 PM

Flesh and a thumb pick. If it is good enough for Tommy Emannuel it is good enough for me [emoji1]

Llewlyn 01-28-2022 11:06 PM

I changed my technique several times, going from nails to pure flesh, to flesh+nail. To me it's much easier to get a nice tone with nails, but flesh is what I prefer.


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