Guestbook

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174 thoughts on “Guestbook

  1. lucentnugent

    Hi, Bob – Love the music. I’m a classical guitarist by training and played Take 3 for church on a nylon-string guitar. I’d like to play some of your other pieces (e.g., Dune) on acoustic, but bare fingers on steel strings is such weak sound (at least for me). I notice you play with a thumbpick. For your other fingers, do you use (A) fingerpicks, (B) bare fingers, or (C) fingernails? In your YouTube videos, I don’t see any fingerpicks on your other fingers, but the sound is so clear and crisp that it’s hard to believe you’re just using bare fingers. How do you get such a good sound?

    Many thanks,
    Nick

    1. Bob Evans

      Hi Nick. Thanks for the kind words and your interest in my music.

      No I don’t use fingerpicks. Over the years I’ve tried all the combinations – fingerpicks, bare fingers, long natural nails, long acrylic nails.

      But now I just use a combination of the pad of the finger and a short nail for a bit of articulation. I like the option of being able to play with more of the flesh for a rounder tone if I want, or to bring the nail in to play for a brighter sound.

      In the past when I played with longer natural nails or acrylic nails, I let the nail take care of a lot of the tone generation. But I am happier with the rounder tone I can get with the combination of flesh and nail.

      I understand your frustration with a sense of a “weak” tone playing with bare fingers on steel strings. If you’re coming from playing on nylon strings where the string tension is lighter you are certainly going to feel you have to use more strength to get some body out of the notes. I know I like to dig into the string with the fleshy pad of the finger rather than use a light stroke. It’s just one of those things you get used to.

      I think of the nylon and steel string guitars as two different instruments. In particular, they each require their own right hand technique to get the most out of the instrument. You run into a similar problem trying to play nylon strings like they’re steel strings – you lose a lot of the potential voice nylon strings offer.

      On the thumb, the thumbpick is my weapon of choice. There are things I simply can’t do yet with the bare thumb both in terms of drive and also faster passages. I have never been able to get used to using the thumbnail instead of the pick. So it’s either a bare thumb (something I’ve only become used to in the past couple of years) or the thumbpick.

      With the thumbpick I also use a fair bit of palm muting to round out the tone generated by the thumbpick.

      Thanks for asking. I hope this helps a bit. Let me know if you have any questions.

      Bob

      1. lucentnugent

        Thanks for the very helpful answers, Bob. Taking you up on your invitation to ask more questions, what gauge strings do you use? I use 13 for acoustic, but maybe a lighter gauge would give me more volume (due to being able to pluck the string harder with bare fingers).

        Do you use coated strings? I’ve found they’re more slippery and yet strangely easier to play. Better yet, do you mind sharing what brand/model strings you use?

        Since you use a little bit of fingernail, does it seriously hamper your playing when you break a nail, or can you get by just fine with the bare finger? Do you use any kind of chemicals/treatment to strengthen your fingernails?

        Many thanks,

        Nick

        1. Bob Evans

          Hi Nick. I use light guage .012 through .053. I don’t think you’ll necessarily get more volume.

          My go to strings for the past 20 years or so have been John Pearse Phos. Bronze light gauge.

          In the past I haven’t typically used coated strings. However, lately I’ve taken to using coated strings when gigging and using a pickup ( KnK mini-western). I find the pickup amplifies the string squeaks and using the coated strings helps to reduce that. I’ve used both the Elixir Nanowebs and D’addario coated Phos Bronze.

          But my preference is the straight acoustic sound. So I use the John Pearse when recording or between gigs.

          Regarding the fingernails. I’ve always been lucky to have pretty strong fingernails, even when I grew them out longer. I don’t use any treatments on them or take any special supplements.

          Keeping them short, as I currently do, further reduces the risk of breakage. So I rarely have a problem with that. Having said that, “rarely” does not mean “never”. I do occasionally chip or lose a bit of nail and it does really mess me up because of the imbalance in tone caused by the missing nail. But you just have to make do and hope the worst doesn’t happen at a critical time.

          I did use acrylic nails for about five years back around 2000. In the end I didn’t enjoy them for a number of reasons. Even with acrylic nails you could have problems with them breaking, cracking or coming off. And there were issues with what they did to the underlying nail when used for longer periods.

          The care and feeding of fingernails is an evergreen topic for guitar players. It’s always somewhat of a moving target. I’ve experimented a fair bit over the past 20 years and the current configuration I use is the most comfortable for me.

          Hope that helps.

          Bob

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