"a" finger nail shape

Hello, I've got a problem with figuring out a good nail shape for my "a" finger. The issue is that it strikes the string at a different angle than "i" and "m" for which regular round shape works fine. Because of that it ends up hooking the string at the release point. See image where I tried to show the difference in the angle.

 

Does anyone has a suggestion on what nail shape I can try?

 

Thanks!

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  • This may be a common issue, I know I have to shape my a nail differently. Thomas Viloteau has a video about how to discover the "correct" shape of your nail using sandpaper wrapped around one of your guitar strings. This technique was a game changer for me since I found that a reverse ramp worked best for my a fingernail. We each need to find what works best for our unique hands, fingers and nails. Good luck! 

    Like 3
  • I'm on the same journey as I have a pretty strong hook on the a as well. I've found a moderate ramp plus reshaping the mail with a hot spoon (ala Scott Tennant's Pumping Nylon) helps greatly. Still tweaking the shape but at least no more hook!

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  • Pavel We all have different hands and fingers and don't play the same way with the same position, then the same nail shape cannot be applied in the same way. As Michael has described, the best way I found the right nail shape was by using Viloteau's technique. Check it out! 

    Like 1
    • Blaise Laflamme Blaise, I saw this video before and thought it was interesting. I found it to be a hassle folding the wet dry paper around the strings the way he does it in the video. So I just lay the paper on my knee and do an arpeggio movement with my fingers and thumb over the paper, which works seems to work well. I do that while I warm up to get the tone I'm looking for.  Good stuff.  

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    • Michael Shirk you're right, maybe you wrap the strings the first time to know the base shape for your nails then after do it another way... I use to put a sandpaper on the side of a table and use a tremolo pattern with the right angle to base shape my nails.

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    • Pavel
    • Pavel
    • 6 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Thanks all for replies! I will watch Thomas Viloteau's video and give it a try!

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    • Dean
    • Dean
    • 6 mths ago
    • Reported - view
    Like 2
    • Dean Tracy if you try the Viloteau's technique you'll see with your hand and finger position how the ramp should be, for me the 芦a禄 finger has also a small reverse ramp, in fact all of them have a different ramp! 馃槄

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    • Tee
    • Tee
    • 6 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Thanks but that is not a new technique for me--I have done it before. Nails usually all have a different shape as they have individual curvature/profile. 

    Like 1
    • Tracy neither to me but it has the benefit to give you your base shape easily, you can also do that using the side of a table... good to know you already knew it!

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  • For what it鈥檚 worth I once saw a video with Tatyana Ryzhkova I think, explain how to get the proper angle to file your nails. Place all fingers on the strings . p on 6, I on 3, m on 2 and a on 1 in the playing position and press them into the strings, this will leave an indentation on your fingers which is the angle to file the nail at.  I use this method myself and it works fairly well. Of course I鈥檓 always experimenting to get the sound I hear.

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    • Michael Shirk pretty similar to Viloteau's one... once you have your base shape it's then easier to build on that. But for sure great tone and sound is not just a matter of nail shape.

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    • Peter Gray
    • Peter_Gray
    • 6 mths ago
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    What grade of sandpaper is Viloteau using across the strings to establish the base shape?

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    • Peter Gray I'm not sure, but I don't think it matters too much. If you start with polished, smooth nails and use any moderate grit sandpaper wrapped on the string you will see abrasions where the nail crossed the string. Use the path of the abrasion as a guide when you shape your nails. The sandpaper on the strings is not meant to be a final step in shapinp. 

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      • Peter Gray
      • Peter_Gray
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Michael Neverisky Okay thanks for that advice 

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    • Peter Gray Michael is totally right!

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  • I played without a reverse ramp for years and only discovered it as a more natural shape for my a fingernail after finding the Viloteau video. YMMV. 

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