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Fretting with fingertips/nails?

Inactive Member

Guitar Instructional Forum · 6/26/2007 6:01 PM
I'm not very good at this guitar thing so far, but I'm working at it. I have stubby fingers, so chords can be kind of tricky. My issue is when I go to fret a string with my fingertip, it presses down so I'm also holding the string down with my (short as possible) fingernail. I especially noticed this when I finally was able to play a G chord with my middle ring and pinky fingers (finally!). The way my pinky has to be placed to get all the notes to ring out means it's basically the nail fretting the string. It makes the C-G switch much easier than the index-middle-ring G chord, and I can make it sound just fine.

So, is this a problem? I also do this with a chord (such as A major) where fingers are on the same frets on different strings all bunched up together. Is this a bad habit I need to nip in the bud? Or is it acceptable as long as I play efficiently and cleanly?
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Re: Fretting with fingertips/nails?

6/27/2007 1:19 AM

Craig Lindsey (5518) wrote:

Finally! One new question I might address~
Were I you, Brandon, this is one bad habit I would nip directly in the bud. Do not pass not collect 200 dollars.

You really don't want you nails fretting any strings, day to day. First of all, the nails grow alot by day. Therefore unpredicatible.

Bu its mainly that you want to get used to the tips of you fingers and that particular hurtful feeling on the strings. It will give you far more control, a feel for the note you're fingering, in the long run. You can really feel when a finger "grabs" a particular string...and ya know what?

That feeling of grabbing a note with the fingertip becomes a bit addictive...

So approach it from that direction of you would, young man...I think it will pay off in spades for you. Good Luck!


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Re: Fretting with fingertips/nails?

6/28/2007 9:36 PM

Charles Gacsi (42523) wrote:

Dear Brandon,

Use the fingerings that your hand can make. My fingers are short but training your hand will make use of what you have. Besides, it only takes 3 notes to make the chords.. root, 3rd, and 5th. Any more is just doubling. Of course if 7th chords are used, voicing is another tatic. You can explore the lesson I have on chords.. Remember I have short stubby fingers. My middle finger is only 3 1/2" long. Little finger only 2 " long.


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Re: Fretting with fingertips/nails?

6/29/2007 12:06 AM

Randy Hano (12149) wrote:

Keep those nails short and keep applying your fingertips to the strings making sure your nails are safe distance away. The pad at the fingertip should be the only thing touching the string.

Work slowly and accurately at first. As fingers start to hurt you will start to build strength in them. After not too long you won't have that problem anymore.

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Re: Fretting with fingertips/nails?

6/29/2007 5:40 AM

Derek Day (129) wrote:

Hi Brandon, this is a great question which I hope every budding guitarist will read.

You can see from the excellent advice the guys have given that you should persevere with the fingertips. I'm no expert but I'm starting to experiment with bends, pull-offs and hammers etc and I think that using the fingernails would be nigh-on impossible.

Keep the practice up and the technique will come and the sore fingers will go. Good luck.

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Re: Fretting with fingertips/nails?

6/29/2007 6:06 AM

Jon Riley (9697) wrote:

As long as you can play cleanly, with fretted strings ringing clearly, and without fretting fingers touching neighbouring strings - and your nails really ARE as short as you can physically get them - it doesn't matter how you fret the strings.

You'll find your fingers loosen up after a while, and your pinky won't need to bend back so far to fret the top string. You should be able to eventually fret it properly with the fingertip.

The main consideration is that your nails should be short enough that they don't touch the wood of the fretboard when fretting strings.

You're right about the C-G switch, btw: useful to persevere with that fingering. But don't neglect this 4-finger G chord:

... good for changing to and from D, and quite popular in rock.

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Re: Fretting with fingertips/nails?

6/30/2007 12:47 PM

Debra Jean (9018) wrote:

Welcome to WholeNote, Brandon.

Back when I got my guitar, the thing that stopped my learning how to play it was my long, pretty painted fingernails. It was just before the holidays and being young and vain, I wanted to 'look my best' for the parties, so refused to cut them. Silly girl!

If these good folks haven't answered your question to it's fullest, I know I've seen several entries along the way regarding finger and hand exercises. Have you checked out the 'Lessons' tab at the top? I put 'finger exercises' in the search box and got 200 entries. Surly some of them address your particular issue.


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Re: Fretting with fingertips/nails?

7/5/2007 7:49 PM

Inactive Member wrote:

Thanks for all the responses, everyone. Unsurprisingly, more practice is making it easier to fret with the tips and not the nails.