Nail care, nail problems, and the use of nails in playing the classical guitar.

Re: Fingerpicks

Post by Michele » Tue Apr 21, 2009 1:14 am

Thanks, everyone, for explaining why not to use one and showing what these picks look like.


Re: Fingerpicks

Post by JQ. » Tue Apr 21, 2009 1:50 am

Lorette wrote:I’ve talked about this before somewhere on this forum. When my right hand thumb was caught between a heavy door and the jam, my thumbnail died. It took almost a year for it to grow back from the quick. During that time, I used product called “Alaska Pik”, a plastic finger pick that clamps over your finger nail.

:ongles: I had to customize it by filing the top so that it just protruded over the thumb like a nail and carving an arch on the bottom so as not to interfere with the thumb joint. I was able to play as well as with my natural thumbnail. It sounded quite fine.

Not that I'm advocating picks. Just my experience when I was missing a fingernail.
I've used an AlaskaPik on my thumb before. It did feel quite natural, unlike traditional thumb picks that stick out to the side.

I thought it worked well and felt quite natural, and if anything, it gave me more power on the bass strings than a regular nail without the attrition of wearing it down.


Re: Fingerpicks

Post by fretfull » Tue Apr 21, 2009 6:52 pm

Michele wrote:I just read something on this forum about thumb picks and the fact that they are acceptable on nylon strings. I would like to try one, but wonder if this method would be OK.
I've tried it. It sounds best with a plastic thumb pick but you don't gain much over a good thumb nail.

Mr. Guitar plays with a plastic pick: ... re=related

Thomas Drummond

Re: Fingerpicks

Post by Thomas Drummond » Thu Sep 04, 2014 10:53 pm

Long story short, it sounds great but theres a "click click click" at the start of each note you cant miss.

it can be done... but.... click click.

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Re: Fingerpicks

Post by a human » Fri Sep 05, 2014 12:44 am

If my own fingernails are too long, they go clickity click, too.

Re picks - I would only use with a steel string to preserve my CG nails for the nylon string. But I am not a fan and found the Alaska Piks to pinch and also run very small.
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Re: Fingerpicks

Post by JohnPierce » Fri Sep 05, 2014 1:47 am

samljer wrote:Long story short, it sounds great but theres a "click click click" at the start of each note you cant miss.
Those aren't Alaska Piks. If you take the time to properly fit and shape the Alaska Piks, and wear them properly, then they sound just fine and don't click (assuming, of course, that your technique is good). Here, for example, is Jean-François Delcamp demonstrating their use:


Re: Fingerpicks

Post by mjhetzer » Sun Sep 07, 2014 4:12 pm

The Alaska picks work. A player in our quartet is an auto mechanic and cannot have nails and also work on cars. He uses the picks and has excellent tone. I'm a sailor, and I cannot have nails and tend to the boat, so I, too, have recently switched to the picks, but oh, what a chore! I have had to completely retrain my right hand. Scales and arpeggios; scales and arpeggios and I'm not fully to where I was with nails. But they do work. After all, if Jason Vieaux can create that amazing tone with a ping pong ball on his thumb, then clearly there's no reason artificial nails can't create great tone. My wife is happier too; she found the long nails disgusting. Most women do.


Re: Fingerpicks

Post by schlep1 » Sun Jun 28, 2015 9:15 pm

Some of use don't have the luxury to use fingernails, or go to great lengths (no pun intended) to protect our nails only to find that not only do the products not work, they sound bad, and they break more frequently than our nails but take part of the nail with them.

I'm one of those people. My wife pleaded that I stop trying superglue with scotch tape, acrylics, and all the other online suggestions and I gave in when reaching into a backpack and half of my nail came off.

She bought me butterfly picks (wire) and I got a set of the Alaska picks. I knew that purists would argue that nails create the only acceptable tone, but I'd rather have another tone than not play at all, and fortunately I don't run into many purists that I want to impress.

My experience is that the Alaska picks are easier to get used to, harder to deform, and allow you to strum (as in flamenco style). They also sound like plastic picks, they are tight and my fingers turn blue even using the largest sizes, but my biggest complaint is that I have very large fingers and the picks catch on each other.

On the other hand, the butterfly picks take a little getting used to, create a bit of a metallic rubbing sound (a little repositioning can eliminate that) and they are easy to deform. By biggest complaint is that I discovered too late that I cannot strum except with my thumb. Not insurmountable, but a bummer. They create a very different tone than nails. I have heard use of the coated style or coating them myself with nail hardener would improve this but I actually like the tone. It is very different than nails but also very crisp and easier to play very loudly, allowing for a greater range. Given the choice, I go for the butterfly, but I have to get used to the strumming.

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Re: Fingerpicks

Post by George Crocket » Mon Jun 29, 2015 7:33 am

Hi schlep1. Welcome to the forum.

I guess most of us have had some sort of nail issues at some time, though maybe not all to the degree you describe. Thanks for your observations.

Meantime, could you please introduce yourself here.
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Re: Fingerpicks

Post by alfonso » Mon Jun 29, 2015 8:04 am

The use of finger picks on a CG is generally a bad idea - especially sound wise.

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Re: Fingerpicks

Post by OldC1guy » Wed Jul 01, 2015 7:05 pm

I have used said picks, T, I and M; but not on a CG. Their use IS proper when playing Scruggs-style 5 string banjo which I did for a number of years. Having a CG background before I got into bluegrass, made it a fairly easy migration. I've barely touched the banjo in ten years. No picks on CG, just take care of your nails.
I bought my classical guitar before my first marriage. That didn’t last, but the guitar did; one of the few things she didn't get...

Laura Joffe

Re: Fingerpicks

Post by Laura Joffe » Wed Jul 01, 2015 8:07 pm

Like some others here, my day job requires me to have short nails. I did look into alaska picks, however they are secured under the nail, and in my case that's impossible as there isn't enough nail to secure them. I decided to try classical guitar anyway. I play with fingers. It is possible that my playing lacks clarity and dynamic contrast that would be possible with nails. I don't exactly dwell on this, but just get on with what I can do. Anyone doesn't like my playing, they don't need to listen to me!


Re: Fingerpicks

Post by ritchie » Sun Sep 06, 2015 6:29 am

Funnily enough the two guitar teachers I have had lessons with both play without nails by choice. This was a coincidence as I play with nails, but they both make a much better sound than me so I think it doesnt matter if you use nails or not, provided you adapt your technique to get a good tone.

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Re: Fingerpicks

Post by fast eddie » Sun Aug 13, 2017 4:38 am

Since my thumb nail is way too short and seems like it's taking forever to grow, I have tried both Alaska picks and Fred Kelly picks with a thumb pick. The Alaska picks sound good enough and are loud compared to fingernails and of course my thumb. However, occasionally they come loose, even with calm fingerpicking. So I bought Fred Kelly fingerpicks and a thumb pick and they have a similar sound quality. In fact in my opinion are a little better. This combo worked fine, but eventually these fingerpicks also worked loose while playing. The FK picks were also very loud. I have not mastered controlling the tone using these picks. So, am still searching for a solution. If I could only get my thumbnail to grow.
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Re: Fingerpicks

Post by Bernabe » Thu Oct 19, 2017 7:28 pm

you can use a thumb pick and play the entertainer like chet atkins did, that sounds nice
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