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Long Nails?

Alan Day

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I bought a great 38 keyed Jeffries G/D from John Rodd, of the Albion Country Dance Band.

As he also played guitar and had finger-nails, he had Colin Dipper put extra long buttons on..........after I'd played it a bit I had Colin put shorter buttons back on.

So "yes" to your question !


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As per Robin's comment - tall buttons and long nails seem to get along fine. My first concertina was a Lachenal Excelsior with quite tall buttons and having reasonably long nails on my right hand for guitar playing was never a problem. However a more recent purchase has much shorter buttons and ebony ends - and my nails qucikly made an impression on the lacquer/varnish. Not good! A bit of experimentation and i have found the minimum nail length for guitar does not cause marking. I guess it is les of a problem for metal ended instruments.


I have seen a few Wheatstone EC concertinas (I think 'golden period') with ebony ends but fine metal plates in the key area which I presumed protect the wood.

Edited by Myrtle's cook
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With me it's the finger-style banjo that demands long nails. Bluegrassers typically wear finger-picks, but this is not done in classic banjo circles (and sounds horrible on a zither-banjo!)


Most of the previous posters seemed more concerned with what long nails do to the finish - or even the wood - of the concertina, but for me the problem is pressing the buttons. Especially on the inner rows of the Anglo and Crane, long nails hit the end before the button is completely pressed, and I often get a "strangled" sound on some buttons because of this. (With the outer rows, the fingers are extended, the nails are not pointing straight down, and the pad of the finger can reach the end.)


Long nails can also hamper finger movement from row to row - especially from an outer to an inner row.


I'm pragmatic about this. I keep my nails just long enough to get a clean note on the banjo, and this works quite well on the concertina. When I've got a banjo gig coming up, I let the nails grow a little longer, which gives a more confident touch; and before a concertina gig, I cut the nails slightly shorter than they should be for the banjo.

Often enough, my gigs involve singing, accompanied by banjo and concertina alternately - in this case, I leave the nails at "practice length".




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