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Wearing my fingernails down to nothing

Postby IvanSC » Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:58 am

This is an ongoing problem. I have very bad arthritis in both thumbs and wrists, which makes gripping a plectrum difficult. I have overcome this by adding really grippy glue-backed sandpaper to both sides of my picks, but still have an issue with grinding the nail off my middle and index finger of my right hand. Also the same issue if I play with just fingers, as my style relies on being able to play off the nail on the down stroke as well as with the pad of the fingers.
I have experimented with acrylic nails, which dont exactly help the playing experience AND only last a couple of gigs at the most.
I think the biggest part of my problem is that my thumbs dont bend back at the top joint like most peoples seem to do, which means I cant get my hand at an angle where the pick and my fingers sit parallel to each other.
Anyone got any ideas, apart from having my right thumb broken and re-set with the bend in place? :D
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Re: Wearing my fingernails down to nothing

Postby BJG145 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:40 am

I recently tried Clayton Cork picks, which help get a better grip, though they're pretty chunky.
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Re: Wearing my fingernails down to nothing

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Jan 29, 2018 4:16 pm

A change of grip may help, the 'Bluegrass Grip" (sometimes known as the 'power grip' and much recommended by Bluegrass mandolin and guitar players) might be worth experimenting with if your arthritis allows. I assume you currently hold the pick between the pad of your thumb and the side of your index finger with the tip pointing in the same direction as your fingernail? That is how I hold them and, like you, I often allow my fingernail to strike the string slightly before the pick. Switching over to the BG grip is something I have been trying to do for a while, it is far stronger and sounds better (at least on acoustic guitars). Pic of the Bluegrass grip here :- Image
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Re: Wearing my fingernails down to nothing

Postby DC-Choppah » Wed Jan 31, 2018 3:52 am

I was going to recommend you try the 'Gypsy jazz' grip which I see now is the same as the Bluegrass grip, or at least almost the same.

Here is Bireli Lagrene playing with the Gypsy Jazz grip. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuyCYpzNGo8

Don't worry if you don't speak French just watch his right hand. Takes a bit of getting used to but it is a very powerful downstroke grip and can end up being VERY fast too which is surprising. Just force yourself to play this way for a few days and it will suddenly become very natural and powerful sounding.

Bireli is always changing his picking grip during a song and has different grips for different sounds. He is a masterful picker so you can watch what other ways he holds a pick.

Same grip but playing solo lines. (And yes he plays Gypsy jazz violin just as well too!!)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YhRj53jFJk
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Re: Wearing my fingernails down to nothing

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jan 31, 2018 1:21 pm

Yup, it is the same as you say, GJ is a bit niche so I didn't call it that :smirk: I'm struggling to convert but will persevere as most of the Gypsy Jazz players use it (though not all) and those guys are fast!
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Re: Wearing my fingernails down to nothing

Postby Wonks » Wed Jan 31, 2018 1:31 pm

Ivan doesn't do fast.
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Re: Wearing my fingernails down to nothing

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jan 31, 2018 1:41 pm

Well, they're LOUD too..... :D
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Re: Wearing my fingernails down to nothing

Postby Sam Inglis » Thu Feb 01, 2018 9:49 am

Not sure if thumbpicks are your thing, but I recommend the Fred Kelly Bumblebee picks to everyone. They are very different from other thumbpicks and much better. In fact, they are pretty much a plectrum with a thumb grip attached, so you can use them like a conventional thumbpick or you can apply pressure with the first finger and use them like a plectrum.
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Re: Wearing my fingernails down to nothing

Postby ore_terra » Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:02 am

One more for the thumbpick!
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Re: Wearing my fingernails down to nothing

Postby petev3.1 » Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:47 am

Nothing to add since I have nails like steel chisels but it might be worth posting the question on a classical guitar forum for further answers. These folk spend their lives fighting nail problems.
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Re: Wearing my fingernails down to nothing

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Feb 01, 2018 12:29 pm

I tried a Bumblebee pick, didn't get on with it at all, it seemed like a very cheap flatpick stuck to a sawn off, very cheap thumbpick at an inflated price to me. But TBF I do like my picks big and thick

Image
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Re: Wearing my fingernails down to nothing

Postby Lala » Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:38 pm

IvanSC,

I know people will probably laugh when I say this but to me, one of the best discoveries of recent years that has helped my playing are the Jim Dunlop 'Max Grip' plectrums.

I'd used the standard 1mm Jim Dunlop nylon pick for donkeys years but would often find myself having to slightly re-adjust my grip when playing, particularly if it was a hot and sweaty environment ;) Anyway, one day I was round a friends house who is also a guitar player and picked up one of his guitars to play and grabbed the nearest pick laying on the coffee table - as soon as I had it in my fingers it was a light bulb moment, immediately it felt I had such a better grip on the pick, it's far more stable in my hand.

I don't know how the addition of these microscopic ridges works so well but if you haven't tried them I would definitely recommend them.

Cheers,

Nick
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Re: Wearing my fingernails down to nothing

Postby joemardo1 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:31 pm

I use Jim Dunlop 73 and put a hole in middle of pick with one of those gadgets that you get for punching hole in bets etc, seems to help.

I have band in a box and frequent their forum where a guy posted this DIY method for people with artharitis etc. I haven't tried it out yet but will some time.

here is the link.


http://www.pgmusic.com/forums/ubbthread ... Post453183

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Re: Wearing my fingernails down to nothing

Postby zenguitar » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:58 pm

And you can buy pre-punched pics from Everly Guitar strings...

http://everlystrings.com/star-picks/

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Wearing my fingernails down to nothing

Postby Music Wolf » Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:54 pm

I tried Ibanez Sand Grips for a while

http://www.ibanez.com/eu/products/accessories/pick_sand_grip_wizard.html

I prefer a heavier pick (I use a StoneWorks Plain Jane) but the Ibanez were quite easy to grip for a while (the grip does wear smooth quite quickly).
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Re: Wearing my fingernails down to nothing

Postby ManFromGlass » Mon Feb 26, 2018 1:10 pm

As for nails wearing down - I did a quick search to see if eating almonds was a myth or fact for building strong nails. Seems the internet is still a good source of science and fantasy.
But aside from a healthy diet that includes more protein, blueberries, almonds, zinc and iron, it appears that one glass of beer a day is suggested to build stronger nails due to the silicon in the beer. So it's not all bad!
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Re: Wearing my fingernails down to nothing

Postby adrian_k » Tue Mar 27, 2018 11:58 am

I too have been struggling with my nails recently (and they seem a lot worse since giving up booze, so maybe the silica in beer theory has something going for it). I have tried just about every type of fingerpick, without much luck (apart from the bumblebee on the thumb, I like those).

Anyways this Friday I am playing unamplified at my son's wedding ceremony and nails are in tatters from practicing, so in desperation I went to the local nail bar...

Image

So far so good, they seem pretty strong and I can play with the backs as well. Don't know how long they'll last but they only need to hold on till Friday. They don't sound as crisp as natural nails, being a bit thicker, but they are the best compromise I've tried, touch wood. Not bad value either at eight quid.
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