Unfretted Forum: Finger nail stopping technique - Unfretted Forum

Jump to content

Page 1 of 1
  • You cannot start a new topic
  • You cannot reply to this topic

Finger nail stopping technique

#1 User is offline   les fret 

  • Known Gaggle
  • PipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 75
  • Joined: 09-February 12

Posted 05 March 2012 - 01:22 AM

Is there a good video or explanation on the left hand finger nail stopping technique?
I have my Vigier fretless on loan since yesterday. Really like it. I want to go to bed but I can's stop playing! Only having a hard time with the sustain on my E and B strings. When I do the fingernail technique I have more sustain. But I am not sure if I do it correctly. Hope someone can give me more info.

And as a side question: Is it normal to have such little sustain on those E and B strings? And will a thicker gauge string increase the sustain on the unwound strings?
gitaarles en basgitaarles in Weert
www.gitaarschoolweert.nl
0

#2 User is offline   jahloon 

  • Administrator
  • PipPipPipPip
  • Group: Admin
  • Posts: 6979
  • Joined: 16-April 04

Posted 05 March 2012 - 10:25 AM

How is the Vigier tuned? EADGBE ? Out of the factory they were tuned down a tone to DGCFAD - that will help with control and sustain.

You can try heavier strings, in general sustain on the top two strings is difficult to get right, read Tim Donahue's tutorial on the main site.

Try an e-bow for some fun, Ed Degenaro had a sustainiac fitted to one of his Vigiers.
Play the blues guitar with your soul, but play the fretless guitar with your spirit.
0

#3 User is offline   Bapman 

  • Lesser Gaggle
  • PipPipPipPip
  • Group: Hon Member
  • Posts: 703
  • Joined: 19-April 05

Posted 05 March 2012 - 06:39 PM

View Postles fret, on 05 March 2012 - 01:22 AM, said:

Is there a good video or explanation on the left hand finger nail stopping technique?
I have my Vigier fretless on loan since yesterday. Really like it. I want to go to bed but I can's stop playing! Only having a hard time with the sustain on my E and B strings. When I do the fingernail technique I have more sustain. But I am not sure if I do it correctly. Hope someone can give me more info.

And as a side question: Is it normal to have such little sustain on those E and B strings? And will a thicker gauge string increase the sustain on the unwound strings?


in my experience lighter strings will do it
I use 008
thicker will also do it but there's a problem with breaking etc.
swimming with a hole in my body
"The only thing worse than a guitar is a guitarist!"
- Lydia Lunch
0

#4 User is offline   WolfV11 

  • Lesser Gaggle
  • PipPipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 307
  • Joined: 04-June 06

Posted 06 March 2012 - 02:25 AM

Fretless guitar is a unique instrument that is challenging to guitarists who already have established technique.

After almost 7 years of playing fretless guitar I can assure you that nearly everything possible on fretted is also possible on fretless; just much harder.

The Nail-Stop is crucial to good fretless guitar technique. My best advice is to continue playing the instrument and allow the subtle nuances to come to you, and they will with time. Fretless guitar is not an instrument that you play for a few months and get it, it's something that takes fine and focused practice and I feel that this is sometimes too much for many guitar players to deal with; having to start from scratch can be very annoying and the complete opposite of inspiring.

Keep at it! Listen to the greats fretless guitarists of our time to get more inspiration. Through practice, everything is possible.

Check out some Sarod players to see some good nail stop technique in action. They're the true pioneers of the technique.

Oh, and I use 12's on my fretless and can nailstop whole melodies and phrases. I'm going to be upping the string gauge possibly to 14s!
12 Ain't enough...
www.ericjacksonarts.com
0

#5 User is offline   les fret 

  • Known Gaggle
  • PipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 75
  • Joined: 09-February 12

Posted 08 March 2012 - 11:34 AM

View PostBapman, on 05 March 2012 - 06:39 PM, said:

in my experience lighter strings will do it
I use 008
thicker will also do it but there's a problem with breaking etc.


I thought exactly the opposite. That thicker string will have more sustain?

Would you recommend a wound or unwound G string? Mine has a wound now. My guitar is tuned to normal guitar E pitch and I like to keep it that way.

Is there any good close up video that demonstrated this nail technique. Your fingers have to play the strings in a different angle I guess?
and do you need longer left hand nails then usual for this technique?

Sorry for all these questions. I am just so eager to learn
gitaarles en basgitaarles in Weert
www.gitaarschoolweert.nl
0

#6 User is offline   cchhrriisstt 

  • Unknown Gaggle
  • PipPipPip
  • Group: Hon Member
  • Posts: 117
  • Joined: 18-September 06

Posted 08 March 2012 - 12:59 PM

View PostWolfV11, on 06 March 2012 - 02:25 AM, said:

Fretless guitar is a unique instrument that is challenging to guitarists who already have established technique.

After almost 7 years of playing fretless guitar I can assure you that nearly everything possible on fretted is also possible on fretless; just much harder.

The Nail-Stop is crucial to good fretless guitar technique. My best advice is to continue playing the instrument and allow the subtle nuances to come to you, and they will with time. Fretless guitar is not an instrument that you play for a few months and get it, it's something that takes fine and focused practice and I feel that this is sometimes too much for many guitar players to deal with; having to start from scratch can be very annoying and the complete opposite of inspiring.

Keep at it! Listen to the greats fretless guitarists of our time to get more inspiration. Through practice, everything is possible.

Check out some Sarod players to see some good nail stop technique in action. They're the true pioneers of the technique.

Oh, and I use 12's on my fretless and can nailstop whole melodies and phrases. I'm going to be upping the string gauge possibly to 14s!

That's sure many things are possible on fretless, but you can't play (in my opinion) all you can play on fretted guitars. They are so many chords I play on fretted guitar that I couldn't be able to play on a fretless guitar.
About the nail-stop, sometimes I use this technic but only for a short part, because It's so difficult to play with this technic for me. But that's true that keep a really good sustain on the B and E strings thought the Surfreter has a good sustain with those strings.
www.lesmouvements.com
0

#7 User is offline   Newbie Brad 

  • Lesser Gaggle
  • PipPipPipPip
  • Group: Hon Member
  • Posts: 1700
  • Joined: 17-April 04

Posted 09 March 2012 - 03:27 PM

If there are notes in the phrase you are playing that do not need to sustain, then you can decide for yourself but you don't really need to play those notes with the nail(s). You can save the nail(s) for the notes you want to sustain. But if you want you can use the nail(s) on all the notes. Or pick a finger and use the nail and then gliss sliding up and down getting all the notes in the phrase if you really want to draw attention to the sustain.
www.3pupsmusic.com

www.facebook.com/3pupsmusic

www.reverbnation.com/3pupsmusic

www.youtube.com/3pupsmusic

www.cafepress.com/3pupsmusic

www.archive.org/search.php?query=3pupsmusic
0

#8 User is offline   WolfV11 

  • Lesser Gaggle
  • PipPipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 307
  • Joined: 04-June 06

Posted 09 March 2012 - 04:01 PM

View Postles fret, on 08 March 2012 - 11:34 AM, said:

I thought exactly the opposite. That thicker string will have more sustain?Would you recommend a wound or unwound G string? Mine has a wound now. My guitar is tuned to normal guitar E pitch and I like to keep it that way.Is there any good close up video that demonstrated this nail technique. Your fingers have to play the strings in a different angle I guess?and do you need longer left hand nails then usual for this technique?Sorry for all these questions. I am just so eager to learn

You'll probably have to experiment with different string gauges to determine what's best for you. There are many choices: light thickness, medium, heavy. Round wound, half round, flatwound.
Genre, playing style, etc. as well as other factors are very crucial to determining which strings are best. Experiment as much as possible and take note of what you like/dislike about various strings.
I myself have tried very thin strings and found the tone undesirable for my music and playing. Really thick strings work nicely for my fretless playing. On fretted I prefer thin 10s or 9s. It is also in my experience that sustain has much to do with technique and perhaps less to do with the materials.

View Postcchhrriisstt, on 08 March 2012 - 12:59 PM, said:

That's sure many things are possible on fretless, but you can't play (in my opinion) all you can play on fretted guitars. They are so many chords I play on fretted guitar that I couldn't be able to play on a fretless guitar. About the nail-stop, sometimes I use this technic but only for a short part, because It's so difficult to play with this technic for me. But that's true that keep a really good sustain on the B and E strings thought the Surfreter has a good sustain with those strings.

Yes, you are correct. Let me rephrase myself.
Certain Voicings are difficult and perhaps impossible on fretless guitar. That said, all types of chords (in 12 tone music and otherwise) are possible on fretless, you may just need different voicings.
But I have to say that the fretless guitar has surprised me. 7 years ago when I first picked one up, there were some voicings and chords I thought I could never do (say a first position F Major chord with the barre). I can now play those chords and slide the barre around. It's all about practice and dedication.

View PostNewbie Brad, on 09 March 2012 - 03:27 PM, said:

If there are notes in the phrase you are playing that do not need to sustain, then you can decide for yourself but you don't really need to play those notes with the nail(s). You can save the nail(s) for the notes you want to sustain. But if you want you can use the nail(s) on all the notes. Or pick a finger and use the nail and then gliss sliding up and down getting all the notes in the phrase if you really want to draw attention to the sustain.

This is very true. It's all about what you're playing. If I'm doing a screaming rock solo, I'll probably nail stop and gliss up and down a single string. If it's a silky jazz line, it will require different attacks and methods.
Nail stopping is like a hammer on and pull off or bending. It's just another technique that requires mastering and perfection.
Since many guitarists who attempt the fretless are usually accomplished fretted players, we kind of assume a sort of arrogance that when we first try something different and find it doesn't work, we assume it's impossible or impractical.
The same is true about accomplished musicians who experience microtones. We assume it's nonsense or "improper" and ignore the fact that it too has its own rules and theories.
All things are possible with learning, practice, patience, and adaptation.
12 Ain't enough...
www.ericjacksonarts.com
0

#9 User is offline   Kai 

  • Lesser Gaggle
  • PipPipPipPip
  • Group: Admin
  • Posts: 2161
  • Joined: 12-December 04

Posted 11 March 2012 - 03:56 AM

I use nail-stop almost exclusively, since I'm basing my playing on sarod. The Indian players use their index and middle fingers almost exclusively (this is true of sitarists as well) and a few will grow the nail on the ring finger to use occasionally, but that finger has less strength to bear down on the nail.

I, and they, will sometimes use the non-nailstop ring and pinky fingers for passing notes or quick hammer-ons or pull-offs, where sustain is not an issue. As WolfV11 mentions, you can play a lot of lines gliding up and down a single string, and this is kind of the default in Indian music, although of course you do switch strings where appropriate.

I keep my nails at at least 3 to 4 millimetres long, preferably longer. I've seen some Indian guys with ones a centimetre or so. I never clip them, only file them (always keep several emery boards in the guitar case.) Sarod players usually have them with square ends; I round mine. If they get too long then they'll tend to bend and you can't get a good firm contact to the string.

The nail is closer to being perpendicular to the string than not, but it's not 90%; more like 70-85% angle..? The idea is to keep the meat of the fingertip from getting anywhere near the string (one side effect of this is that after 12 years of mostly fretless, I've lost my once formidable fingertip callouses completely on the main two, and somewhat on the other two), and if the nail is longer you might be able to use a shallower angle, but then you lose some firmness to the pressure on the string. If your nails are pretty short you'll be forced to go almost to 90% to the string to avoid touching it with the fingertip. But the bottom line is your nailstop fingers will be in a more bent or curved position than you might be used to when fingering a fretted, and your hand position may also need to adjust slightly to help keep flesh away from the strings.

Sometimes, if you're doing a lot of gliding (tons of it in Indian music) between notes, it helps to dip your thumb in some talc to smooth its movement in parallel along the back of the neck. One of the things my Indian music teacher emphasizes which is especially important for fretless instruments is that the thumb and index finger always track each other: the thumb is always directly behind the index, on the back side of the neck, providing a stable reference for intonation.

My tuning is non-standard (Indian-based: C# G# C# G# C# F#, Just intonation), so my string thicknesses may not apply. I do use a pretty standard set of Rotosound Flatwounds on my Strat, with the top F# an 010, which is pretty taut. I can't emphasize enough how important flatwounds are for nailstop. Roundwounds will wear grooves in your nails in no time, and the scratching sound...! I actually prefer playing my Strat to the Nylon Godins for playing on the lower three strings, since the Thomastik-Infeld nylon flatwounds, with which I and others on this board have replaced the stock strings shipped with the Godins, aren't really completely flat, and they scratch slightly and wear down my nails over time.

If I could have one extreme body modification it would be to have some adamantium fingernails like the X-Men's Wolverine (not claws, but nice smooth bottleneck slide-quality nails.) :D
[i]"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench - a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side..."[/i] - Hunter S. Thompson
[url="http://soundcloud.com/csharporchestra"]C# Orchestra on Soundcloud[/url]
0

#10 User is offline   les fret 

  • Known Gaggle
  • PipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 75
  • Joined: 09-February 12

Posted 11 March 2012 - 11:03 AM

View PostKai, on 11 March 2012 - 03:56 AM, said:

I keep my nails at at least 3 to 4 millimetres long, preferably longer. I've seen some Indian guys with ones a centimetre or so. I never clip them, only file them (always keep several emery boards in the guitar case.) Sarod players usually have them with square ends; I round mine. If they get too long then they'll tend to bend and you can't get a good firm contact to the string.

The nail is closer to being perpendicular to the string than not, but it's not 90%; more like 70-85% angle..? The idea is to keep the meat of the fingertip from getting anywhere near the string (one side effect of this is that after 12 years of mostly fretless, I've lost my once formidable fingertip callouses completely on the main two, and somewhat on the other two), and if the nail is longer you might be able to use a shallower angle, but then you lose some firmness to the pressure on the string. If your nails are pretty short you'll be forced to go almost to 90% to the string to avoid touching it with the fingertip.


Thanks for pointing that out. I am familiar with Indian music and sarod music. What I don't understand is how you are able to fret in a normal way with longer nails? Normally when playing fretted guitar you keep your left nails as short as possible. Aren't the longer fingernails giving your problems when trying to fret on a fretted guitar? And do you also use nail stop for playing chords (or double stops or so) or only single note lines? Chords might also be difficult with the nail stop, not only because of the nails but also because of the different angle for nail stop I guess.

Do you have a video of you (or someone else) showing that technique in close up? That might clarify more than words. I have already watched sarod clips but it is hard to see exactly how the fingernail is placed etc.
gitaarles en basgitaarles in Weert
www.gitaarschoolweert.nl
0

#11 User is offline   WolfV11 

  • Lesser Gaggle
  • PipPipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 307
  • Joined: 04-June 06

Posted 11 March 2012 - 09:54 PM

Long nails are one method. And of course it depends on the desired sound.

I clip my nails so short I practically have no nails and still nail stop. Keep in mind I'm playing electric instruments sometimes with high amounts of distortion, gain, reverb, and delay. My action is also so unbeliveably low that you can barely instert a slip of paper under the string at the nut. Super short nails probably won't work well for acoustic instruments or instruments with moderate to high action. Also, my playing is bound to the parameters of home studio playing, so I'm not playing as often and with as much "wear and tear" than if I were touring.
Ned Evett had once shared with me that often on tour he'll place some super glue on the nail bed. I believe Ed Powell does the same.

I also try not to rely too much on nail stopping for accuracy and sustain.

Again I'll make the analogy to legato hammer ons and pull offs. As a "shredder" (or perhaps one time shredder, often my current music doesn't even have a set BPM...how times change) I had learned the fine balance between speed picking (through alternate or sweeping) and hammer ons and pull offs. Like with nail stopping, you don't want to put all of your sound and abilities into one specific technique. You need more than one set of reliable approaches to stay dynamic and versataile. It's healthy. I can come pretty close to the sustain I get with a nail, without one. The tone is a bit different between the two, so there's a place for both of them.
12 Ain't enough...
www.ericjacksonarts.com
0

#12 User is offline   Kai 

  • Lesser Gaggle
  • PipPipPipPip
  • Group: Admin
  • Posts: 2161
  • Joined: 12-December 04

Posted 12 March 2012 - 07:11 PM

View Postles fret, on 11 March 2012 - 11:03 AM, said:


Thanks for pointing that out. I am familiar with Indian music and sarod music. What I don't understand is how you are able to fret in a normal way with longer nails? Normally when playing fretted guitar you keep your left nails as short as possible. Aren't the longer fingernails giving your problems when trying to fret on a fretted guitar? And do you also use nail stop for playing chords (or double stops or so) or only single note lines? Chords might also be difficult with the nail stop, not only because of the nails but also because of the different angle for nail stop I guess.

Do you have a video of you (or someone else) showing that technique in close up? That might clarify more than words. I have already watched sarod clips but it is hard to see exactly how the fingernail is placed etc.


Yeah, I should've made clear that in my case and for anyone doing full-on adoption of sarod technique, it means giving up fretted playing for the most part. (Hence the loss of my callouses on the first two fingers.) I don't do chords for the most part (I have my keyboards for that.) The fretless as I use it is pretty much a solo, single line instrument, as with most Indian instruments.

As WolfV11 points out, it's possible to nailstop without long nails (you'll need some nail to do it at all); it's just that you have to really bend the first joint of your finger to a full 90 or so (maybe even past 90) to get the flesh of the fingertip off the string, and you may not get as consistent results for sustain as with longer nails.

I have thought about doing a short video showing the closeup of my lefthand technique. Soon perhaps. (Then Ed Powell and others can go to town with their critiques. :lol: )
[i]"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench - a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side..."[/i] - Hunter S. Thompson
[url="http://soundcloud.com/csharporchestra"]C# Orchestra on Soundcloud[/url]
0

#13 User is offline   Kai 

  • Lesser Gaggle
  • PipPipPipPip
  • Group: Admin
  • Posts: 2161
  • Joined: 12-December 04

Posted 12 March 2012 - 07:24 PM

View PostWolfV11, on 11 March 2012 - 09:54 PM, said:

My action is also so unbeliveably low that you can barely instert a slip of paper under the string at the nut. Super short nails probably won't work well for acoustic instruments or instruments with moderate to high action.

Ned Evett had once shared with me that often on tour he'll place some super glue on the nail bed. I believe Ed Powell does the same.


Yeah, I've adjusted the action on all of my fretlesses to as low as possible. The Warmoth neck on the Strat already has very little distance between the height of the ebony fingerboard and height of the nut. Lowering the neck's action further has made it a tiny bit buzzy - which I like. (Sitar-ish.) Lubo Alexandrov pointed out when he showed me his doubleneck when I first arrived here in Montreal that he likes that flirtation with buzziness too.

Having that low action also means being able, with practice, to gliss down to the open string. It's possible to almost completely hide the last-minute (microsecond) pull-off as you approach the nut. (Glissing up from an open string I haven't been able to do, but then I just play the equivalent nailstopped note and gliss up.)

I really need to do the superglue on the nail edge thing more. Yeah, Ed swears by it. Now if someone could just invent little steel edge things that can clamp on and off one's fingernails...
[i]"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench - a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side..."[/i] - Hunter S. Thompson
[url="http://soundcloud.com/csharporchestra"]C# Orchestra on Soundcloud[/url]
0

Share this topic:


Page 1 of 1
  • You cannot start a new topic
  • You cannot reply to this topic

1 User(s) are reading this topic
0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users