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Old 01-06-2021, 08:12 AM
Andyrondack Andyrondack is offline
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Default Classical technique for steel strings

Hello, I only play steel strung guitar but thought I would ask this here as classical players have to cope with a much more demanding repertoir.
When playing arpeggios at speed is it better for control and accuracy to allow the fleshy part of the finger to contact the string first and then follow through with the nail or just sound the string with the nail ?
I ask because I am trying to work up the speed of a jig called The Irish Washerwoman, the melody is mostly a few simple triads picked accross the strings with some strings played twice in succession, there is no opportunity to use the fretting hand to sound notes via hammer ons and pull ofs so the picking hand has to do all the hard work. Strugling to play cleanly much faster than 100bpm at the moment.
Thanks for any comments.
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Old 01-06-2021, 08:55 AM
AndreF AndreF is offline
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Quote:
When playing arpeggios at speed is it better for control and accuracy to allow the fleshy part of the finger to contact the string first and then follow through with the nail or just sound the string with the nail ?
I would say the former is your best bet. Also, the shorter the nail length, the more fluid and clean they will be.
As far as arpeggios go, the speed killer is nail length. You're looking for even execution of all notes. Too long a nail invites snags and sloppiness to creep in, unless you slow it down.
If you play both nylon and steel, finding the right nail length is more challenging. You need a compromise. I try to go for as as long as I can get away with, but admittedly, it's not that long in deference to nylon, which I play more often.
I hope that makes sense.
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Old 01-22-2021, 02:56 PM
Andyrondack Andyrondack is offline
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Well an update on how I got on with this, someone else may have the same problem and find this usefull.
I don't actually play with nails but fingerpicks , nevertheless nail technique is still relevant.
I shortened some picks down to 1mm so I could feel the flesh of fingertips brush the string before the plastic followed through, that felt more like I was getting better control but I still struggled to increase the speed of this jig much without sometimes miss hitting strings , felt too much like the picks were snagging, remembering something I had once read on Classical Guitar Shed website I studied the site again, filed some picks to 2mm and focused on pushing down on the strings instead of plucking, not so much room between the strings on a steel guitar to do this but it straight away it made a big difference . Got it up to 115bpm now which is fast enough to sound like dance music.
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Old 01-22-2021, 03:51 PM
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I shortened some picks down to 1mm so I could feel the flesh of fingertips brush the string before the plastic followed through...
? Are you wearing the picks backwards?
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Old 01-22-2021, 03:57 PM
Andyrondack Andyrondack is offline
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? Are you wearing the picks backwards?
Not that sort of pick, Alaska picks.
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Old 01-22-2021, 04:05 PM
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Not that sort of pick, Alaska picks.
Never took to those. I did use metal fingerpicks when I used to play banjo. On guitar always natural fingernails where I feel I can vary the volume and tone more readily. Whites of nails around 2 millimeters.
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Old 01-22-2021, 04:09 PM
Andyrondack Andyrondack is offline
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I got no choice, useless thin nails that hook round as they grow.
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Old 01-23-2021, 10:19 PM
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My nails hook quite a bit, too, and what (mostly) works for me is to take
the advice given for that type of nail in Charles Duncan's very fine book 'The Art of Classical Guitar Playing', and file them pretty much straight across , starting at a slight angle from beneath the nail. A little hard to describe, but if you think about what the string "sees", it might make more sense.

Otherwise, I agree with the advice above that the flesh has to touch first at least a little bit, both to stop string "sizzle", and to really know where the string is.

Last edited by Carey; 01-23-2021 at 11:22 PM.
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Old 01-24-2021, 03:19 AM
Andyrondack Andyrondack is offline
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My nails hook quite a bit, too, and what (mostly) works for me is to take
the advice given for that type of nail in Charles Duncan's very fine book 'The Art of Classical Guitar Playing', and file them pretty much straight across , starting at a slight angle from beneath the nail. A little hard to describe, but if you think about what the string "sees", it might make more sense.

Otherwise, I agree with the advice above that the flesh has to touch first at least a little bit, both to stop string "sizzle", and to really know where the string is.
Bizarely a scientific study was carried out on hooked nails, the nail boffins concluded that it was due to stresses originating from the nail corners as the nail grows and not letting the corners grow out was key to preventing the nail hooking round as it grew, well I tried it , regularly rounding the corners off but it made no difference to my nails, might work for others though.
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Old 02-01-2021, 02:51 AM
ObiWanSymbian ObiWanSymbian is offline
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Not that sort of pick, Alaska picks.
Im about to shorten my Alsakans.
What technique did you use?
What is the end curvature of the edge?
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Old 02-01-2021, 03:12 AM
Andyrondack Andyrondack is offline
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I prefer to not change the playing tip as I like the clear tone of the virgin picks, so I put a wide hardboard nail file in the slot where the nail fits and filed the slot deeper so the pick slides higher up the finger.
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Old 02-01-2021, 05:29 PM
Carey Carey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andyrondack View Post
Bizarely a scientific study was carried out on hooked nails, the nail boffins concluded that it was due to stresses originating from the nail corners as the nail grows and not letting the corners grow out was key to preventing the nail hooking round as it grew, well I tried it , regularly rounding the corners off but it made no difference to my nails, might work for others though.
I've tried that nail shaping approach too, but no luck.

What's working best for me is a little "ramping" in 'i';
straight across (per Charles Duncan) on 'm'; and no nail
on 'a'- callus only on that one, which makes for a nice pure
tone on the top string, but at the cost of having to play
a little more firmly with that finger. Practicing with the
little finger helps, too.
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  #13  
Old 02-02-2021, 11:30 AM
Aspiring Aspiring is offline
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I was actually just working on some speed tips from my guitar teacher last week.

His key tip to me was to move my right hand arm position back further so I could get my fingers straighter such that I was using the top knuckle primarily for moving the fingertip rather than the second or third knuckles.

This seems to help a lot.
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Old 02-02-2021, 11:53 AM
Andyrondack Andyrondack is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aspiring View Post
I was actually just working on some speed tips from my guitar teacher last week.

His key tip to me was to move my right hand arm position back further so I could get my fingers straighter such that I was using the top knuckle primarily for moving the fingertip rather than the second or third knuckles.

This seems to help a lot.
That's interesting, sounds pretty much what I found after some trial and error, keep the finger straighter so the nail ( or the pick in my case) pushes down on the string instead of playing with more curled fingers that result in the string being 'snatched' which slows it all down as the playing tip can't easily roll off the string.
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  #15  
Old 02-02-2021, 12:07 PM
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If you are just doing some run on the upper strings you often can steady your hand with the thumb on a base string. Wrist bounce is one factor that can slow you down.
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