In the first two articles, I shared two methods of taping Guzheng nails. This time, I want to share some thoughts/tips on wrapping the tape around nails. My former Guzheng teacher said, “Simply put the tape around the finger, and make sure your Guzheng nail and your real nail are parallel.” But then I found a problem.
When the surface of a Guzheng nail does not touch the string completely , the sound becomes dull and unclear. (Note: a Guzheng nail has to be perpendicular to a string; i.e. 90 degree. When a nail plucks a string without being perpendicular to a string, it often creates unwanted noise and fails to produce a crisp sound.) We need to understand that when our hands are in their most natural relaxing state, our fingernails are all actually facing slightly different angles. In other words, if we want to touch the strings head-on, each finger needs to slightly adjust its angle in order to touch a string perpendicularly.
I remember Ms. Yuan Sha’s video lessons. (Ms. Yuan Sha is a famous Guzheng teacher in China. She has recorded many video lessons about how to play Guzheng. I will share some of them in this blog later.) She emphasized the importance of touching strings perpendicularly, and the need to adjust the angle to reduce any unwanted noise. This is , especially when true for the thumb, which faces a different direction compared to other fingers when plucking strings. Adjusting the angle takes time to get used to because it is time consuming and difficult if we need to remind ourselves every second we need to adjust our finger angle.
My current teacher taught me one trick! When sticking a Guzheng nail on our fingertip, make sure the index finger Guzheng nail and the ring finger Guzheng nail are slightly placed towards the thumb. As you can see from the above pictures, when the fake nails are placed slightly towards the thumb, we don’t have to adjust our angle significantly in order to pluck a string perpendicularly. As for the thumb, the Guzheng nail can be tilted slightly towards left (shown in the above pictures – my right hand).
Based on my experience, I really like this method! Although I still need to adjust my finger angle when plucking a string, the degree is not as much. I find this a smart approach and encourage you to give a try!
Some additional tips :
- The tip of each pick should not stand out too much or little.
- Fasten your pick by wrapping it around your finger with tape.
- Your thumbs require a different way to be fastened with picks. As mentioned above, different from your index, middle and ring fingers, the pick for your thumb can be slightly tilted when being adhered to a piece of tape.
- When putting on your thumb picks, the one for your right thumb should be slightly tilted to the left while the one for your left thumb should be slightly tilted to the right. Then fasten your pick by wrapping your thumbs around with tape.
- The bottom of each pick should be parallel to your first finger joint.
- Tapes should not be too long. A long piece of tape makes your fingers look bulky. But if it is too short, your pick would come off easily.
- If your tape is too loose, your pick will fall off easily. But if your tape is too tight, it can affect blood circulation and possibly cause pain.