Nails – a headache of guitarist playing on nylon strings. One of the radical solutions is the use of Alaska Pik plectrums attached to each finger.
Strange enough, the nails of humans differ quite strongly. The most convenient nails for playing on nylon (all it about right hand of course 🙂 ) is dense or medium density nails that are not bent like claws. And fingertips ideally should “come to naught” to the nail that is no room where string can suddenly get stuck. Exactly such nails and fingers have got the king of guitar Andres Segovia (1893-1987). Segovia learned to play guitar by himself, without a teacher, so one can assume that his technique of sound was greatly dependent on the unique structure of his fingertips and nails. It is believed that the study of the technique of Segovia predetermined significant change with technology of “preparation” finger on the string before sound (at the end of the 20th century). Or in other words, there is a pre-mute of string by fingertip. It is understood that the more smoother pad goes to nail, more economical and more accurate the motion and more clear will be sound. The difficulty of a nylon string is because the fact that the strings are high above guitar fingerboard (compared to metallic string guitar), so when play, depending on the pressing of the left hand fingers, the height of the strings under the right arm is significantly changed. Therefore for the extraction of pure sound with a predictable volume better first to feel the string .
My nails is quite differ from ideal for guitar. They are quite soft, bent like claws and are located far from pads. Ironically, such nails are not uncommon among and professional guitarists. Now the problem is solved with acrylic nails, which are superior to conventional strength of a few (dozen) times, and they are formed on surface of the “original” nails. I’m not a professional, I usually have no more than an hour a day to play, therefore, false nails does not suit me. I’ve solved nail problems with a more traditional way, strengthened them with a special oil for the night, and before the play unbent by “hot teaspoon method” and then grinding-polishing. It takes 10-15 minutes, which is pretty much drawn from the available hour.
But the main thing is not even that. Nails – a headache of guitarist, all the time you need to take care not to break a nail. All movement of right hand is needed to keep under special control. Especially in winter, whennail becomes brittle as glass. Each winter I broke nails several times because of ski workouts.
So when Alaska Pik appeared in my favorite shop “Muzdetal” (Moscow), immediately bought. Size “L” was ended already, it is the proper size for my finger “m”, and perhaps for the “i” and “a”. Available size “M” is well adjusted in the direction of expansion with a small heating by industrial fen. Alaska Pik are made apparently with polyurethane. This material is familiar to us because of BJD dolls, so it can be heated without fear that “flow”.
What is important, this polyurethane composition is quite soft (I think it is core of patent of Alaska Pik), so despite the fact that picks are substantially thicker then nails, the sound is pretty warm. In general, I immediately liked the sound, a little bit differ from sound with a nail “in good shape”, but quite possible to work further 🙂
The working part of plectrum is located between the pad and nail (just in my case there is a lot of space there). The stress during play goes to the nail. In principle, it is not too unusual, one of the methods of strengthen nails is pasting with superglue to the inside of the nail the piece of plastic cut from a ball for table tennis. The difference is that the mediator Alaska Pik are much thicker. It determines the specific of adaptation, room between the strings becomes much less so you need more precision in touch the string. At the same time, the picks are felt not so tight as nails, and it adds additional difficulties. The original plectrums need to be shaped and sized. I had to quite quickly come to a” short “nails”, and then for increase the feeling of the fingertips, to “even shorter”. Then began addictive to Alaska Pik. It took about a year. Feedback from pads and nails is present but quite different. That’s what had to be completely refused, is the element “rasgeado” from flamenco, when the strings are hit with unfolding fingers and with other side of nails. The reason is very simple, picks just come off because reverse stress of Alaska Pik is hold by finger girth, and this is not enough for a good blow. And if you beat accurately, the design of Alaska Pik clings to the strings. After the year of addiction (in my pace for an hour a day), enthusiasm was not increased, especially in conjunction with a super responsive guitar “Artista Membrane”, which is very capricious to the overtones. Noises goes, though not because of the plastic, the stuff is pretty good and “meets” a string without a clang. Polyurethane of Alaska Pik, as already mentioned, is durable, but viscid. Noises goes from inaccuracies of motion, which are present itself but plectrums still increase it. But in spite of this after a year there was a strong sense that there is no way back. Really it is very convenient that you can not be afraid to break a nail, do not use all sorts of sawing-polishing, just trim your nails from time to time, as as all normal people do 🙂 . And do not waste time before play, as before.
With such a feeling another year passed. I do not intend to return to ordinary nails. But I can not surely recommend Alaska Pik to everybody 🙂 . Will can when achieve tremolo with this picks. Spending to this technique a third of time, but tremolo does not come close 🙂 . It is possible that not because of picks 🙂
Here is an example of recording (“ Unchained Melody “), with Alaska Pik.