Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

One thing that really turned my playing around was adjusting my nails. One day, I took a file and went down to the nub......never regretted it. You would think that you would lose sound, but instead I gained. I always file down short before I play.

It was a blasphemous change from my Classical guitar past.

Views: 116

Comment by Al Smitley on July 16, 2014 at 5:47am

I'm wondering if that depends somewhat on one's personal finger anatomy.  I would think you would need some meat on the end of your finger (between the nail and the end) enough to "catch" the string.  I'm not sure I have it.

Comment by Strumelia on July 16, 2014 at 9:35am

Tim, I found the very same thing a few years ago.   I now always cut my nails right down to basically nothing.

I have fingers where the nail ends before the finger ends- so when not wearing a pick, there is a little skin that builds up a callus right on the side edge of the nailbed, the callus hits the string along with the stiff side of the nailbed (not the nail end).  I do love the sound of playing with bare fingers/callus rather than nail or pick...and I do that at home a lot when extra volume is not needed.  I lose a small amount of volume, but I gain a whole lot of rich round texture that has a crisp parchment-like old fashioned 'organic' feel.  More textured and less 'clean' sound than with a pick or nail.

Comment by Strumelia on July 16, 2014 at 9:35am

It was a game changer for me too, Tim....after a decade of playing always with a pick or fake nail.

Comment by Barbara Mullin on July 16, 2014 at 12:37pm

Well, then... I'm getting out the file!

Comment by Tim Twiss on July 16, 2014 at 4:48pm

Always grow back if it does not workout.

Comment by Barbara Mullin on July 16, 2014 at 5:35pm

;o}  They're pretty short and thin now so growing back won't take long.

Comment by Barbara Mullin on July 17, 2014 at 8:58am

Well, the nail was trimmed so there is the fleshy fingertip ending the finger and not a nail...

Turns out I have a callus on the end/side of that finger and by trimming the nail short, I exposed the edge of that callus.... giving in effect, a built in pick ;o} interesting plunky sound but I think I'll smooth it down..  ;o}

On a similar note, Tim Rowell swore that rubbing Purell on finger calluses smooths them out.. haven't tried it yet..

Comment by Strumelia on July 17, 2014 at 11:20am

I exposed the edge of that callus.... giving in effect, a built in pick ;o} interesting plunky sound but I think I'll smooth it down..  ;o}

Try smoothing it down by playing.   ;)

Comment by Barbara Mullin on July 17, 2014 at 12:09pm
I may do that.....see how long I can stand it!
Comment by Strumelia on July 17, 2014 at 3:56pm

Barbara, if any part of my finger gets hurting or raw while playing, I just wrap a single piece of scotch tape around it.  That provides a thin layer of protection and lasts through a session- then just toss away.  I always keep scotch tape in my case!  I like the clear kind, not the frosted.  :)

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