Fingernails

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Fingernails

Postby keener » Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:03 pm

I know we've beat this subject to death, but I came across this page, which may be of interest to some of you:

http://www.guitartips.addr.com/tip05.html

Basically describes various products for strengthening nails.

I've been practicing A Little Bit of Blues today and it's eating my index fingernail up, so I guess I'll finally have some fake nails put on. I'll probably start with just the index finger since its the only one that gets any serious action on the wound strings.
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Re: Fingernails

Postby keener » Sat Nov 19, 2011 4:14 pm

As an update, I had a nail tip put on my index finger this morning and it seems to be working well. The lady who put it on said it would last a couple of weeks ... I think that's because the growth of the real nail will mean it's best to get it trimmed and another put on in a couple of weeks. I'd ideally like a setup that lasts a month, but, if nothing else, this gets me by until my real nail does grow out enough. I must say, though, it is a joy to be able to pick on the fourth and even fifth and sixth strings without my nail wearing down.

WebMD also has some worthwhile info on fingernails:

http://www.webmd.com/healthy-beauty/fea ... out-health

Basically they encourage the use of Biotin (for doubling the thickness of the nails), discourage gelatin (as not beneficial), encourage the use of moisturizing lotions. Of course their focus is on nail health, not growth, but it is a decent and quick read. Note that it is a two=page article (the "next page" link wasn't obvious to me at first).
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Re: Fingernails

Postby alexjones » Sat Nov 19, 2011 5:35 pm

Hey Bruce,
I too have recently been battling with my fingernails. I don't have the same problem as you do as mine are extremely hard. I have the problem with mine hooking and not just at the ends. Filing is not a solution for me. I have been trying to get used to playing with Fred Kelly's Freedom Picks - but it's tricky to not get clicks every now and then. I also recently tried a really neat idea - basically buying a kit of glue on nails and using a glue dot to attach the nail instead of glue. I was a bit weary that the glue dot was not going to be enough - but man, that thing really sticks on there. That was not the problem I had - unfortunately, with steel strings - it ate through the nails pretty quickly. It would be better for nylon. Now I am trying to find a material that will not get eaten up by the strings. Has anyone else used this method? I would like to find preformed materials - as that's an important part of it adhering well. Thanks!
Alex
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Re: Fingernails

Postby Jim Miller » Sat Nov 19, 2011 5:55 pm

Since my retirement in may,Dish soap and dishes seam to have an adverse effect on one's nail's (make's them soft ) :(
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Re: Fingernails

Postby keener » Sat Nov 19, 2011 7:21 pm

Jim, All kidding aside, unfortunately age does seem to be a factor. My nails were much harder and grew quicker when I was young ... not so anymore.

Alex, I wouldn't know how to help since we have different issues. I would only note that, when you watch all the top pickers, you'll notice that they use natural nails (John Knowles, Craig Dobbins, John McClellan, and others), artificial nails (Richard Smith, Pete Huttlinger), or no nails (Tommy Emmanuel). I don't recall seeing any use the attached nail picks. But, assuming I got that wrong, and there are actually a few who do, they would appear to be in a significant minority. I would guess that the reason for this is that the attached picks are just not a good solution. You might be interested in this video by James Taylor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BqISqpMRo8

Although I've gone less than a full day with my new index fingernail, I can see where attached nails can be problematic, too. For example, a little bit of the chemicals she used in putting on the nail, have flowed under the usable area of the nail and have hardened. Ideally I might be able to file that down, and get rid of the clicks that it is causing, but it makes me realize I am going to have a similar problem as my real nail starts to grow back out: there's going to be a click as I strike my acrylic nail and then my real nail as I am pulling off. Sorry that the wording on this is a bit clumsy, but hopefully you can see what I mean.

I wonder if anyone has successfully gone from using nails to not using nails? I didn't use nails until I was about 30, when I took a half dozen classical guitar lessons. I wanted to switch to using nails for more precise control and a better sound, and to get away from having little dead spots on the ends of my fingers (calloused spots that would sometimes split and be a total annoyance).

Note that I use nails that are a good bit longer than is recommended by most professionals. Part of the reason I do that is that it allows me to have some wear and tear without taking away my ability to play. I have become accustomed to having long nails when I play, and it's very hard for me to get by with the recommended 1/16th to 1/8th inch nail exposure recommendation (Chris Parkening and, I think, if I remember right, John Knowles ... I know John uses short nails, I'm just not certain of the length).

Anyway, no solutions from me ... I'm just a learner when it comes to figuring out what to do about nails.
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Re: Fingernails

Postby RandeDager » Sun Nov 20, 2011 5:03 pm

Back in 1999 I watched Doyle Dykes do a 2 hour clinic and demonstration for Taylor in Southern California and he had 6 steel string guitars that he played over that time. I was baffled as to how he managed without ruining his nails or at least damaging them. Upon talking with him afterwards, he recommended acrylic nails. I've been using them ever since. However, it's like I'm playing with "little pieces of rigid stone" protruding from my finger-tips. I can no longer handle reverse rolls as smoothly as I used to. I need something more flexible. The main complaints I've heard regarding acrylics is the discoloration of the natural nail. I've had no problem with this or I wouldn't have kept using them for 12 years. My problem is the lack of nail flexibility. I'm always interested in alternatives.
Rande
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Re: Fingernails

Postby Norm » Mon Nov 21, 2011 12:10 am

a couple of thoughts on this...

"...I wonder if anyone has successfully gone from using nails to not using nails? ..."
Tommy E. does not use his nails. I suspect it takes a while to build up the calluses to make this work however but he does it all without nails.

There are a couple of products out that claim to be based on horse hoof strengthener. These products are interesting because nails (and horse hooves) are made of the same material.

The problem is that you would need to use the product for almost a year to see results because of the way a nail actually grows is a slow process. The part you file and use nail clippers on is dead. The hoof treatment product needs to address the cuticle and other new nail growth areas and due to the time consuming process of growing, results may not be immediately evident.

Some say the horse hoof goop works. Others say it makes the nails come in weird when they grow out.

One of the greatest guitarists to ever pick a string was the flamenco player Sabicas.
I believe I read somewhere once that he brushed Duco Household Cement on his nails to keep them strong.

The thing about acrylics is I think you need to have a professional manicurist tend to them for you. By their adhesive nature they can be detrimental to the natural nail. I never liked them. They work (kinda) but they aren't good for the nail itself... IMO


Don't mind me...

Just adding to the confusion...

:-)
...that's how it looks to me...The opinion expressed above is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of this station. Your mileage may vary...

Audio samples: http://www.youtube.com/user/acountrygent/videos
That should do it.
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Re: Fingernails

Postby Terry Tolley » Mon Nov 21, 2011 1:22 am

Norm, I agree with you. I don't like acrylics. I have been blessed to have very hard nails, so hard that they tend to be brittle. If I take care, and I don't bang my fingers into something or let them grow out too much, then my need for acrylics is minimal. In years past, I have had some "gigs" where I've been solo. When I happened to break a nail I have successfully worn them, but I have learned the hard way NOT to wear them too long since they do adversely affect the nail underneath. Broken nails are not so much a problem playing steel string as it is with nylon, where the nail affects the tone so directly. If I need them, I wear them for my gig, then get them off.
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Re: Fingernails

Postby keener » Tue Nov 22, 2011 4:47 pm

Thanks for the info Rande, Norm, and Terry. I'll probably try to grow my nail back and find a way to strengthen it. It sure is nice to not worry about the index nail wearing down so much when I use it on the fourth string (which I tend to do a fair amount).
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Re: Fingernails

Postby Norm » Tue Nov 22, 2011 6:35 pm

Here's another thing... and I've pointed this out before.

I think sometimes we tend to let them get too long.

When you break a nail it finally grows back to a decent length and you can finally use it.

Pay close attention to just how long (or short) that is. because, folks, that's all the longer it needs to be.
The shorter you can keep it and still use it makes for a stronger, harder to break, unit.

Muriel Anderson pointed out that she paid special attention to the edges of her nails using buffing boards to keep the edges like glass...
...that's how it looks to me...The opinion expressed above is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of this station. Your mileage may vary...

Audio samples: http://www.youtube.com/user/acountrygent/videos
That should do it.
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