Nail health suggestions

Nail care, nail problems, and the use of nails in playing the classical guitar.
Posts: 260
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2016 1:12 am
Location: California

Re: Nail health suggestions

Post by davekear » Fri Oct 06, 2017 8:55 am

jrethorst wrote:
Fri Oct 06, 2017 3:54 am
What kind of artificial nails do you suggest?
Well, it's a bit hard to answer that without mentioning that that's what we've been working on and developing at for over twenty years. Whether you use our nails or not, there is a lot of good, hard won instructional data on our web site, no matter what type of nail you use.That's all I'll say about that, hopefully the moderators will allow it. Here's a few important things to keep in mind. Material is as important as methods of application. We recommend for those with little or no experience with artificial nails, to start with store bought, pre-formed nails. We've discovered that using a relatively thin pre-formed nail with silk wrap is better than using a thicker pre-formed nail without wrap. A couple of reasons for this is that thinner pre-formed nails are easier to contour to the shape of your natural nail than the thicker ones. And by starting with a not so thick nail and using wrap, you will get more high end and clarity of tone. Store bought artificial nails are made with ABS plastic, and are bit soft. Adding wrap also increases the durometer of the nail. After one gets the hang of using the pre-formed, store bought nails, then it's easier to go on to the nail strips that allow you to use any material and to customize it to the exact shape of your nail. Also, keep in mind that angle of application is critical to the tone and feel that you'll get from your nails. Rule of thumb is to apply the nail so that there is no gap at the front of the nail where the two nails meet. This will give you a standard angle with which to work with. From here you can increase or decrease the angle if you wish, depending on your own personal nails and results you wish to achieve. Another nice thing about using artificial nails, if you have the right material, you can adjust the tone and feel after application by bending the nail into various configurations. One example of this would be to bend up the "thumb" side a bit, and then bend down, about 3/4 of the way, just the tip of the "pinky side" a bit to increase clarity and high end. You can experiment quite a bit with this.... can really be a game changer if you have the right material. (Just one reason why acrylic nails don't work too well). Understanding the anatomy of tone as it relates to fingernails is also very much worth studying. When you get good at this, you'll be able to remove an old nail, put on a new one and be ready to play in less than 5 minutes. I personally haven't used my real nails now for over 25 years. (Except my little finger I use for comparison). I've personally put on thousands and thousands of nails over the years, and it's a very workable thing. We've run across different problems along the way, but we've found solutions to them. If done correctly, you can use artificial nails all of the time, all of your life, and it will not hurt your natural nails at all. Just remember your nails are always growing, and will always grow out. Keep them sealed and you'll be fine. There is a bit of a learning curve to using artificial nails, but it's not rocket science either. Doesn't take too long to get the hang of it if done right. There's a lot of advantages to using artificial nails. You never have to worry about your nails. You can have perfect nails all of the time. No more nail emergencies. It can be a really good thing.
Last edited by davekear on Fri Oct 06, 2017 7:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 148
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2004 2:52 am

Re: Nail health suggestions

Post by jrethorst » Fri Oct 06, 2017 4:55 pm

Thanks for a very informative post!
John Rethorst
1983 Alejandro
2004 Yamaha GC-31
Classical and nylon jazz

Posts: 260
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2016 1:12 am
Location: California

Re: Nail health suggestions

Post by davekear » Fri Oct 06, 2017 6:53 pm

jrethorst wrote:
Fri Oct 06, 2017 4:55 pm
Thanks for a very informative post!
Thanks. Here's a few more things you may find useful if you're using artificial nails. Apply only to about 3/4 of the nail plate. Don't cover the entire nail. Taper the back edge. Use a Dremel or an electric rotary fingernail file for tapering, working under the nail, or removing the nail. With a rotary fingernail file you can remove an old nail completely in about 20 seconds without having to soak your nail in chemicals for an hour. With a rotary file you can monitor the nail as you're filing. Very quick and accurate. If you do remove any natural nail to the point where it's sensitive, then build up the nail before applying a new nail by using some brush on nail glue. Nail glue dryer will speed everything up; good thing to have around. You'll need basically just two bits for the file. The two best bits to get are a medium, flat barrel carbide, and a medium carbide under the nail bit. Carbide creates less heat friction than diamond. Flat barrel for tapering and removing; under the nail bit for, that's right, under the nail. Also good for fine work. Always make sure nail is sealed at all times. Don't let it fall off on its own. Either on completely, or off.

Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2016 12:11 am
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: Nail health suggestions

Post by Karen » Sat Oct 21, 2017 1:23 pm

Guess I will wade in here. When I started playing CG a year ago my nails were a mess so I started wearing rubber gloves when doing dishes. Soap seems to be the worst drying agent for the nails and I didn’t want to stop washing my hands :) My solution for this was to put a drop of olive oil on a cotton swab and wipe my finger nails with it EVERY TIME I wash my hands. I carry that cotton swab with me all day and am religious about applying it. (I do wipe off the excess and rinse with water after if I am worried about oiling the world) After a year of doing this my nails are smoother (I had bad ridging), are flexible, and stronger. Though not entirely perfect, it’s a simple fix that seems to have worked for me. I haven’t had to do anything else to my nails except keeping them filed smooth. Maybe I’m just lucky.

User avatar
Stephen Kenyon
Posts: 2155
Joined: Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:26 am
Location: Dorchester, Dorset, England

Re: Nail health suggestions

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Sat Oct 21, 2017 1:45 pm

Like the OP I found that an oil helps a great deal, but now use a combined hand/nail cream. All these things take months to really work, and regular - daily - application. We all have to find out how to do this without causing mess!
I got trodden on by my horse but it was down the heel so no toes were crushed...still hurt like £@{€ though.
Simon Ambridge Series 40 (2005)
Trevor Semple Series 88 (1992)
Louis Panormo (1838)
Alexander Batov Baroque Guitar (2013)

Posts: 737
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 5:43 pm

Re: Nail health suggestions

Post by celestemcc » Sat Oct 21, 2017 2:01 pm

What Karen said, re gloves. Have started using them to wash dishes or any time I have to have the hands immersed for a long time (other than bathing or showering). Makes a huge difference! Will try the oil trick too...!
2015 Connor spruce/Indian rosewood
1978 Ramirez 1a cedar

Posts: 232
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:54 pm

Re: Nail health suggestions

Post by dtoh » Sat Oct 21, 2017 2:40 pm

celestemcc wrote:
Sat Oct 21, 2017 2:01 pm
What Karen said, re gloves. Have started using them to wash dishes or any time I have to have the hands immersed for a long time (other than bathing or showering). Makes a huge difference! Will try the oil trick too...!
Makes sense. Some research suggests that the biggest problem for nails is not dryness but frequent hydrating and dehydrating. Nails absorb (and shed water) very quickly and this process causes brittleness if it happens too often.

Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Nov 28, 2017 1:59 am

Re: Nail health suggestions

Post by Geoffity » Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:39 am

I had badly cracking nails for about two years. I tried all sorts of oils and none made any difference. About six years ago, I found a recipe on a cosmetics page for a 'cuticle oil'. It suggested equal parts of rice bran oil, almond oil and Jojoba oil.

Rice bran oil is really cheap and I didn't believe in the 'magical' properties of expensive rare oils. But the Rice bran oil on its own did nothing. So I tried the mixture above and all the cracks grew out in about five months.

These days, I treat my nails with this mixture, daily, after a shower. I put a single drop onto one nail and spread it across the others with the knuckles of my left hand. I transfer a bit of the oil to knuckles on my right hand to treat the left hand and rub each thumb nail with the oiled knuckles of the other hand. One drop does all this. I have been free of nail cracks now for five years or so. The left hand nails don't matter for playing guitar, but nails are more comfortable without cracks anyway.

Return to “Use of nails in playing the classical guitar”