Fingernail Picks vs Alternatives

Fingernail Picks vs Alternatives

Fingernails

Playing with the fingernail, or more typically a combination of fingernail and the flesh of the fingertip, feels very natural since it is, of course, your fingernail. However, fingernails were not designed to be very good picks, and most people have a lot of problems with their nails, including:

  • Nail breakage
  • Thin wispy tone
  • Difficulty in executing fast passages due to the inherent drag introduced by the soft flesh of the finger tip (fast playing is much easier with a hard surface hitting the string)
  • Low volume
  • Inability to play with wild abandon “on 11” due to concerns over nail breakage

Bare Fingertips

Playing with the bare fingertip also feels very natural since it is your finger. However, most people have a lot of problems with their bare fingertips, which is why fingerpicks were invented in the first place! These problems include:

  • Low volume
  • Poor articulation since the soft flesh does not activate enough high frequencies
  • Difficulty bringing out a melody when fingerpicking due to lack of high end
  • Muddy tone that gets readily lost in the mix
  • Difficulty in executing fast passages due to the inherent drag introduced by the soft flesh of the finger tip (fast playing is much easier with a hard surface hitting the string)
  • Blisters in the fingertips if you don’t play often enough to maintain thick calluses

Acrylic Nails

Playing with acrylic or similar chemical nail treatments solves some of the issues mentioned above, such as improving high end, volume, and articulation, but this approach brings a whole host of new problems, including:

  • Toxic chemicals dramatically weaken the natural nails
  • Increased risk of fungal infections beneath the acrylic due to moisture getting trapped under the acrylic layer when bathing—such an infection can be career threatening for professional musicians
  • Requirement to always have your picks on your hand, even though you don’t need them on most of the time, which for non-professional musicians is usually a non-starter
  • Having to get your nails done professionally once every two weeks when they grow back out
  • Catching the strings on the cuticle portion of the acrylic nail when it grows out
  • Bright but crunchy and brittle tone on the high frequencies due to a fundamental inability of acrylic to be filed to a very smooth finish (because it is a granular powder that doesn’t fully dissolve)

Conventional Fingerpicks

Conventional fingerpicks are essentially a metal or plastic thimble that wraps around the fingertip. This same basic design has been around for over a hundred years, but longevity does not prevent them from having numerous problems, including:

  • Harsh and thin metallic tone (when made of metal)
  • Uncomfortable to wear, especially for extended sessions, due to the fact that the pick attaches to the finger by digging into the highly sensitive flesh at the end of your finger
  • Unstable design causes pick to walk around when it strikes the string, especially if fingers are sweaty during performance
  • Only allows upstrokes, with downstrokes causing the pick to fly off the finger (since it is a thimble)—this means that you can’t strum up and down with these picks
  • Difficult or in many cases impossible to execute fast runs with a single fingerpick
  • Metal picks require regular re-shaping by bending the pick back to where you want it

Other Wrap-Around Fingerpicks

Some companies have attempted to provide alternatives to conventional fingerpicks, but these solutions still wrap around the finger and thus have most of the same problems.

Conventional Flat Picks

Conventional flat picks have also been around for many years, probably longer than fingerpicks. Flat picks provide the distinct benefit of the speed of single note fast runs, but the downsides are many, including:

  • Only one note can be played at a time
  • Requires tight grip to hold onto the pick
  • Difficult to switch back and forth between flat picking and fingerpicking

The Solution: Tiptonic Fingernail Picks

Tiptonic Fingernail Picks solve all of the problems outlined above, while providing all of the benefits of flat picks and fingernails. In summary, Fingernail Picks provide the following advantages:

  • Feel very natural
  • Eliminate nail breakage
  • Provide significantly improved tone, with clear silky highs and solid bass
  • Improved articulation and ability to bring out a melody on the upper strings
  • Play very fast due to optimum material hardness and impact strength
  • Very loud (if you hit hard), effectively widening the total dynamic range
  • Ability to play with wild abandon “on 11” since there is no concern of breaking a nail or having a pick fly off
  • Easily removable when done playing
  • Easily reusable
  • Non-toxic and only left on while you play, so no weakening of natural nails
  • No risk of fungal infection
  • No trips to the nail salon
  • No catching of the strings due to nail growing out
  • Ultra-smooth (as opposed to brittle) highs due to material smoothness
  • Allows upstrokes and downstrokes
  • No squeezing the sensitive flesh of the fingertip, so you don’t notice them being on
  • Picks do not permanently deform, even if you step on them, so no time spent carefully re-forming picks for a good fit
  • Can be used on all fingers and the thumb (though use on the thumb requires a classical hand position, not a country pickin’ style where the side of the thumb is used, such as a conventional thumb pick)
  • Very easy to switch between flat picking and fingerpicking
  • Hundreds of standard sizes available, so a very precise inside fit can be found for every finger
  • Easily reshaped by user if desire a nonstandard outside shape