Chet's right hand nails

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

Chet's right hand nails

Postby Doug Working » Tue Oct 24, 2017 7:42 pm

I'm pretty sure it's been discussed before, but I need to talk about nails.

In videos, I've gotten a close look at Chet's right hand, (even got to shake it once in person!) but they appeared very white, as if he had enforced his nails with artificial nails. Wish I knew for sure. I remember reading on the back of an album cover decades ago, that he said his nails were quite soft, and steel strings were quite hard on them.

I have been having MAJOR problems with mine. And it's been going on for YEARS, and I am DETERMINED to whip the problem. See, it always starts the same way. A small, horizontal hairline split forms in the nail, then by the time it grows to the outer part of the nail, I end up having to clip it, and then my practicing falls two or three weeks behind while I wait for the dern thing to grow back out! Aaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrgggghhh!!

While it's growing, I try to focus on developing my left hand, (scales) but it's still a MAJOR inconvenience.

I have tried artificial nails, and they don't work for me. Ping pong balls, nail hardening applications and all that guff. I just can't deal with it. Even tried a product called "Player's Nails", once, designed for classical guitarists, (and I am extremely HEAVY on classical pieces and studies), but man, I just want my REAL nails, and I want them intact! Enough is enough. To quote Popeye, "I've stood all I can stands, and I can't stands no more!"

So I am now heavily into action to solve the problem once and for all. I started taking Knox Gelatine for nails, (internally) plus soaking my fingers in a jar of it for ten minute stretches in the morning and evening. I also have been rubbing the nails with olive oil and vitamin E cream. And I am going to do an Internet search for a product called "Hoof Flex", which is an equine product, but I hear it works miracles on human nails, too.

I know all of this sounds like overkill, but the last time I had to clip a nail (about three weeks ago) was the proverbial last straw; the living end. I simply can no longer tolerate having to delay my right hand practice (arpeggios, tremolos,,etc, for two or three weeks at a time. So I'm into massive action to solve the problem once and for all.

Any tips will be appreciated.
Doug Working
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Re: Chet's right hand nails

Postby GaryL » Wed Oct 25, 2017 6:51 pm

I know what you're talking about. It's awful to lose a nail for a period of time. This usually happens to me a couple of times over the winter. One thing I do is try to pay attention to my nails and if I feel something happening, I grab a file and try to clean it up as soon as possible. I have a cloth that I rub my nails on and if for some reason a nail catches I know it's time to go to my file and try to remove the issue. Would like to hear how you make out later with the things you are trying. Good luck!
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Re: Chet's right hand nails

Postby EdNilo » Wed Oct 25, 2017 9:44 pm

I go to the nail salon at the local Walmart about every 3 weeks and get acrylic nails on 3 fingers of my right hand.. They look 100% natural. I've been doing this for 15 years. 10 bucks.
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Re: Chet's right hand nails

Postby bill raymond » Thu Oct 26, 2017 12:33 am

There is really no basis for the idea that ingesting Knox gelatine strengthens fingernails. Nor would soaking them in it do much good. See ... ing-nails/
bill raymond
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Re: Chet's right hand nails

Postby DagerRande » Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:02 am

Doug, first of all, I'm impressed with your determination to practice. Many of my guitar friends only pick up their guitars to play songs and the idea of practicing feels boring to them and a waste of time. As far as the nails, that has always been the topic of most importance and interest to me. When I was living in Southern California I attended a Taylor clinic put on by Doyle Dykes, who was then representing Taylor. He had 6 different models on stands and continued to demonstrate one after another for 2 hours. These were all steel string guitars. After he was finished I went up to him and asked how his nails held up to all of that? He showed me his right hand and told me about acrylic nails and how popular they were in Nashville and all over. That's all I needed to hear. This was in 1999 and I begin using acrylic nails that Summer and continued until the CAAS convention this year. That's 18 years. I've lived all over the country since then and always managed to find someone in each place to do 3 nails of my right hand. I've managed to avoid breaking but my frustration has always been control. My nails were like pieces of stone projecting from my fingertips. I always felt limited and I knew that I could do better with thinner and more natural nails. This Summer I was talking to Rick Alred right after his concert at CAAS and asked to see his right hand. He was using his natural nails. He then told me about a product called "M Nail Magic Hardener and Conditioner". He said that he also had that problem for a long time and that this was his solution. He applies it every week or two and says that his nails no longer break and he believes that they seem to grow faster. So I started doing this in July and am very pleased. I find that I'm playing more accurately and with much more control. I'm not sure about your problem with your nails splitting, because mine never did that, but this may help you with that too. I'm very happy with this product and I feel that I've lost 18 years of "high quality" practice but I'm very motivated to compensate for that!
Rande Dager

We are all capable of doing more than we think we can!
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Re: Chet's right hand nails

Postby guitarchuck » Fri Oct 27, 2017 9:55 am

Here's a photo of Chet's hand from an old "Frets Magazine" article from years ago.
I don't have the article handy, but here's the photo:

c5_Chet32.jpg (25.75 KiB) Viewed 976 times
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Re: Chet's right hand nails

Postby Doug Working » Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:02 pm

I appreciate all the help!

It's true. I do indeed practice, always striving for excellence beyond my current ability/level. I chose the toughest pieces I can find in order to push myself. I always view my hands as "athletes in training". The harder you train, the stronger, more flexible, faster, you get. No pain, no gain. So I choose hard classical pieces, scales, and anything I can find that challenges my level. And of course, Chet and Jerry pieces.

I firmly believe in practice. It's something I've always ascribed to. Like with my magic act. I know for a fact that if I don't practice, I will stink on stage before an audience. I've always been inspired by that photo of Chet asleep in his chair with his guitar in his lap. In fact, it's my on my I-pad, here, as my home screen.

Anyway, I have read testimonies of people who swear that the Knox hardened their nails considerably after two or three weeks, so the only way to find out is to try it. If it doesn't work, nothing lost. Back to the ol' drawing board. Cross that one off my list.

That M magic nails sounds like something I'd like to try. Where can I get some?

Doug Working
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Re: Chet's right hand nails

Postby Doug Working » Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:08 pm

Oh, by the way, that photo of Chet's nails looks like the one I saw in an old vinyl album and book I once had called "Play Guitar With Chet Atkins".

Anybody familiar with the anecdote of when Chet saw Segovia in concert, and after the concert he went up and asked Segovia if he could see his right hand, and the old fart FLICKED his fingers at him??

He didn't even consider the electric guitar as a real guitar, and once called Chet's playing "quaint"
Doug Working
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Re: Chet's right hand nails

Postby Doug Working » Sat Oct 28, 2017 5:07 pm

Rats! Spent about three weeks re-growing my m and a finger nails, and just about the time they are ready, last night I made myself a piece of toast, and when I went to push the lever on the toaster, snap! There went my I finger! So I'm getting nowhere fast! I'm going around in circles, taking one step forward and two steps back. At this rate, I will NEVER master guitar! I need to start wearing protective gloves even around the house for the simplest, most unocuous tasks, such as opening doors, or making toast!!

I recall Chet at one time wore a protective glove on his right hand? Can anyone verify that?

I'm thinking of buying some gorilla tape so I can patch the tear. I'm thinking I need something strong, and thin and very sticky. Gorilla tape might fit the bill. I actually tried duct tape once, but it wasn't quite sticky enough to cut the mustard.

Where can I find that m magic nail stuff you guys mentioned?

Doug Working
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Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 9:38 pm

Re: Chet's right hand nails

Postby Roger Pratt » Sat Oct 28, 2017 11:25 pm

Doug....I found some at Costs around $9.
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