I am delighted that Hector Garcia consented to answer my emailed questions concerning his no-nails technique. Hector is one of the most successful guitarists to come out of Cuba. He has for many decades been a USA citizen. As you will see, he is a man of few words, who prefers his guitar should do the talking for him. I like that!
From his publicity material:
Born in Havana, Cuba, he received Master of Guitar and Master of Music degrees from Peyrellade Conservatory and subsequently joined the faculty of the conservatory. He later studied with the eminent musicologist and guitarist Emilio Pujol in Barcelona, and assisted him with master classes for advanced students and performing artists. Hector García’s repertoire consists of works spanning the Renaissance through the present day, performed on the original instruments; he plays a Pimentel guitar in addition to vihuela, lute, and Baroque guitar. He has performed with orchestras including the Havana Symphony, Los Angeles Sinfoniette, New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, University of Albuquerque Chamber Orchestra, Dupont Consortium (Washington, DC), and Caspar Symphony, and has toured major U.S. and European cities as well as Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, the Canary Islands, and Africa.
This updated Wikipedia page gives a great review of one of his concerts when at the height of his powers as a player: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Héctor_Garc%C3%ADa_(guitarist)
1. Dear Maestro Garcia, it is an honour to be able to discuss guitar technique with you. Can you tell me if you played with nails before meeting Emilio Pujol? I’m wondering if he changed your technique at all?
I played with fingernails before I met Maestro Emilio Pujol and continued playing with fingernails after I met him. However, since Fuenllana, Sor, Tarrega and Pujol played without nails I was curious, there had to be something good about it. This was about three years after I met Pujol – and he never encouraged me one way or the other.
2. Is playing without nails a result of a medical problem with your nails, or has it always been first and foremost for musical reasons?
I have never had a medical problem that affected my fingernails. Today, my fingernails are ready to be used if I so desire.
August 11th, 2015