The Sound Of Nails On Black Vinyl Records

Glue-on nails with vinyl record pickups pierced through them that are used on a vinyl record

[Victoria Shen] modifies glue-on nails to give her the ability to play vinyl records with her fingers. Details are light but from the many glamour pictures, it looks like she pushes record player needles through glue-on nails with thin pickup wire that then presumably goes to an audio jack for amplification.

Photograph of hand with record needs through glue-on nails

[Victoria] experiments with novel musical tools for use in her art and performances. Be sure to check out the videos of the nails in action. The combination of “scratching” and ability to alter the speed of vinyl with the free fingers creates a weird and eerie experience.

Using her “Needle Nails”, [Victoria] has found she’s able to play multiple records simultaneously (Nitter). Thanks to the different diameters of 33, 78 and 45 vinyls, she’s able to stack them up while still keeping her fingers on them.

Glove like musical instruments are nothing new but the novel use of fashion, glamour and technology allow [Victoria Shen] the freedom to create something uniquely weird and cool, so much so that Beyonce used it in a video shoot for Vogue (Nitter).

32 thoughts on “The Sound Of Nails On Black Vinyl Records

      1. I must have missed that part, it isn’t obvious in the article, just looks like one wire per nail. Piezoelectric would explain it. I wonder what the frequency response is on those…

    1. At least for most of us not suffering from Anonychia, but honestly as an ex-biter and someone that trims their nails super trim, I can’t see any downsides of not having nails but a ton more dexterity and feel.

      1. Records were designed to have the stylus placed down gently in one spot and have the groove guide it towards the centre ­— not to have a stylus (or 4!) dragged across it haphazardly “scratching” it.

        1. Don’t get me wrong, I kinda don’t mind creative things like this. When I object to records being mistreated, I’m mostly thinking of my own records being harmed.

          I suspect this is a generational thing. Sure records are mass produced, I’m not sure I would consider them cheap though.

          My experience of seeing my dad playing records when I was a kid probably factors in here. I would watch him carefully remove a record from the sleeve. Inspect it, carefully place it down on the platter and set it spinning. He’d inspect it again, maybe wipe it with a cloth and then carefully introduce the stylus to the surface. Then….a slight thud, then the Warfedale Linton 3XPs would spring into life with crisp HiFi sound. It was an event!

          Now, they may have been cheap to buy, but they were viewed as an investment by him, and also my Granddad. You took care of them and they could be relied upon to produce great sound for years, decades even.

          For me it’s the process of setting up my turntable precisely and getting the very best out of it. It’s a far more rewarding process than chucking a little silver disc in a machine that is essentially guaranteed to be “perfect”. Playing a record is an involving process. I guess it appeals to my inner engineer.

          I listen on my Granddad’s original Warfedale Linton 3XP speakers (he had a set that he passed on to my dad to replace his after a mishap involving my mother accidentally wiring them into the mains). They’re identical to the ones my dad had and for me, it’s still an event to listen to a record. There’s a lot of personal history and sentiment mixed into it.

          The quality of a records sound is correlated not only to its production process, but also the set up of the turn table it’s played on. CDs took the unpredictable and probably mysterious process of setting up out of the equation. So consumers didn’t need to concern themselves with it, so it was much more convenient. But in my opinion, a well set up turn table with a well cared for, well produced record, kicks the crap out of a CD. Particularly these days!

          It’s all subjective though. But yeah, I wince when I see records being used poorly. But the hack is still creative and quite clever.

      1. Unless they are rare records that need to be preserved.
        And what if an old record was found at a second hand store?
        What if it was the only known copy in existence, featuring the first use of what became a popular genre or technique, or was the first recorded instance of a singer or musician (in a supporting role) who later went on to be a great?

  1. Dont think my nails would be any good :( ….. short, irregular, bruised by badly aimed hammers and full of black dirt under the ends …. and those are just the ones on my toes.

  2. I find people who are easily disgusted disgusting. But who cares about that?

    Although I’m only interested in long nails if used for the purpose of woodworking, I can seen the artistic potential in it. But I won’t be lending this artist my record collection that’s for sure.

  3. This is absolutely fascinating, and I find the creativity commendable.

    But the artistic habit of publishing no construction details, no engineering sketches, no information whatsoever other than what table scraps the viewer can infer from a vertical-video shot at a rakish angle, is abhorrent.

    Hackers SHARE. I wish the art world would pull their egos out of their…..

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