Getting used to longer nails

Nail care, nail problems, and the use of nails in playing the classical guitar.
MorneZaayman
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Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Re: Getting used to longer nails

Post by MorneZaayman » Sat Jan 21, 2017 2:35 pm

2handband wrote:Kinda hard to believe a classical guitar instructor isn't addressing nail care.

It's a matter of preference, really. I keep mine just barely long enough to catch the string. Don't cut them; use a file.
That's my question too... He hasn't even really checked to see if my nails are getting better/longer/stronger...
I'll only use a file from now...

MorneZaayman
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Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Re: Getting used to longer nails

Post by MorneZaayman » Sat Jan 21, 2017 2:37 pm

spanishguitarmusic wrote:I just keep them short and not too long past the edge of my fingers. As long as they can catch the strings, that's good enough for me. Always file your nails, but don't cut them at all. You can use some lotion or vitamin E oil on your nails. I've even heard that garlic can be used on them to strengthen them. I haven't tried to use garlic, so I don't know if it works or not.
I have a tissue oil with Vitamin E in... maybe I should use that.
I have read about garlic but haven't tried it. I also read about using white iodine...

Will use a file from now :)

Pat Hargan
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Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2013 12:06 pm
Location: Galway, Ireland

Re: Getting used to longer nails

Post by Pat Hargan » Sat Jan 21, 2017 8:55 pm

I have been playing CG for several years and only in recent months have I begun to feel happy about my nails. I could never get a good sound from the a finger, and now at least I feel as though I am on the right track. I use a heated spoon to bend my nails upwards where they are prone to hooking, and I use a glass file and graded micro-mesh papers for shaping and polishing, plus daily application of Healthy Hoof.

I know when I feel that my nails are at the right length and shape, and I try to maintain them there. It is probably no coincidence that getting my nails to feel right has coincided with developing tremolo technique. For me the biggest problem has been the tendency of some of my nails to hook downwards, but the hot-spoon treatment seems to work. Before I solved the hooked 'a' nail problem, I could not achieve a smooth tremolo at all, and now, although my speed is not terribly fast as yet, the tremolo is, at least, smooth and even in timing and volume (helped also by practising different finger combinations).

One thing I would advise is to buff your nails every time you sit down with the guitar, and smooth out any little snags and chips as soon as they appear. It is much easier to deal with them earlier than later. Apart from that, wear gloves to do the washing-up, and when you have to grate cheese etc, hold the cheese in your left hand!
Raimundo 660E - D'Addario Pro Arté EJ45 Normal Tension

Pat Hargan
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Location: Galway, Ireland

Re: Getting used to longer nails

Post by Pat Hargan » Sat Jan 21, 2017 9:47 pm

With regard to comments about teachers giving nail advice, it is far from being an easy thing on which to give prescriptive advice. What works for your teacher will not necessarily work for you, because everybody's fingers and nails are different. A decent teacher will acknowledge this fact, while suggesting certain approaches for experimentation. The provisional nature of advice about nail shape is made clear in the literature of pedagogy and technique, as the following examples show:
The shape of the nail is the most important factor in producing a good sound and will indirectly affect the right-hand position. Keep in mind that everyone has a totally different shape of fingertip, each nail grows differently, and each nail has a different density. As a result – in spite of all the marvellous theories about how nails should be shaped – there is absolutely no way to generalise and say "this is correct, and this isn't." (Anthony Glise, Classical Guitar Pedagogy)
These ideas for shaping your nails are only suggestions. There are many variations on the four nail types discussed in this book. While I have found that the corresponding shapes suggested here work well consistently, experimentation is encouraged. Find out what works and feels best for you. (Scott Tennant, Pumping Nylon)
For example, some method books (e.g. Noad, Duncan) suggest that about a sixteenth of an inch (approx. 1.6mm) of nail should be visible above the fingertip when viewed from the palm side of the hand. But this depends very much on how near to the end of the finger the living part of the nail bed extends. On my own hands I cannot see any nail from the palm side, even though I have 2–3mm of white nail extending beyond the quick on each of my fingers, because I have a relatively short nail bed. If I were to grow my nails to the length suggested, they would be much too long for me.

One thing that you could try is to fold a sheet of micro-mesh over one of the strings of your guitar in the area of the sound hole where you normally play. Then 'play' the string a few times with one of your fingers, so that the abrasive sheet wears down your nail along the line that your nail actually travels on the string when you make a stroke. This should give you a good starting point, but really it is a process of trial and error. Your ears must be the judge of when you have achieved a suitable shape; looking at other players' nails is pretty much useless.
Raimundo 660E - D'Addario Pro Arté EJ45 Normal Tension

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spanishguitarmusic
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Re: Getting used to longer nails

Post by spanishguitarmusic » Sat Jan 21, 2017 11:35 pm

Captonius wrote:
spanishguitarmusic wrote:I just keep them short and not too long past the edge of my fingers. As long as they can catch the strings, that's good enough for me. Always file your nails, but don't cut them at all. You can use some lotion or vitamin E oil on your nails. I've even heard that garlic can be used on them to strengthen them. I haven't tried to use garlic, so I don't know if it works or not.
I have a tissue oil with Vitamin E in... maybe I should use that.
I have read about garlic but haven't tried it. I also read about using white iodine...

Will use a file from now :)
Oh, I didn't hear about using white iodine. Something else to try I guess :)

MorneZaayman
Posts: 39
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2016 2:06 pm
Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Re: Getting used to longer nails

Post by MorneZaayman » Thu Jan 26, 2017 6:23 pm

Pat Hargan wrote:I have been playing CG for several years and only in recent months have I begun to feel happy about my nails. I could never get a good sound from the a finger, and now at least I feel as though I am on the right track. I use a heated spoon to bend my nails upwards where they are prone to hooking, and I use a glass file and graded micro-mesh papers for shaping and polishing, plus daily application of Healthy Hoof.

I know when I feel that my nails are at the right length and shape, and I try to maintain them there. It is probably no coincidence that getting my nails to feel right has coincided with developing tremolo technique. For me the biggest problem has been the tendency of some of my nails to hook downwards, but the hot-spoon treatment seems to work. Before I solved the hooked 'a' nail problem, I could not achieve a smooth tremolo at all, and now, although my speed is not terribly fast as yet, the tremolo is, at least, smooth and even in timing and volume (helped also by practising different finger combinations).

One thing I would advise is to buff your nails every time you sit down with the guitar, and smooth out any little snags and chips as soon as they appear. It is much easier to deal with them earlier than later. Apart from that, wear gloves to do the washing-up, and when you have to grate cheese etc, hold the cheese in your left hand!

Thanks for the reply and tips!!! Definitely going to try and get used them getting longer and taking better care of them. My sister gave me this nail hardener stuff... maybe I should try that as well as using some kind of lotion... I really should invest in gloves for when I do house chores.

MorneZaayman
Posts: 39
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2016 2:06 pm
Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Re: Getting used to longer nails

Post by MorneZaayman » Thu Jan 26, 2017 6:24 pm

Pat Hargan wrote:With regard to comments about teachers giving nail advice, it is far from being an easy thing on which to give prescriptive advice. What works for your teacher will not necessarily work for you, because everybody's fingers and nails are different. A decent teacher will acknowledge this fact, while suggesting certain approaches for experimentation. The provisional nature of advice about nail shape is made clear in the literature of pedagogy and technique, as the following examples show:
The shape of the nail is the most important factor in producing a good sound and will indirectly affect the right-hand position. Keep in mind that everyone has a totally different shape of fingertip, each nail grows differently, and each nail has a different density. As a result – in spite of all the marvellous theories about how nails should be shaped – there is absolutely no way to generalise and say "this is correct, and this isn't." (Anthony Glise, Classical Guitar Pedagogy)
These ideas for shaping your nails are only suggestions. There are many variations on the four nail types discussed in this book. While I have found that the corresponding shapes suggested here work well consistently, experimentation is encouraged. Find out what works and feels best for you. (Scott Tennant, Pumping Nylon)
For example, some method books (e.g. Noad, Duncan) suggest that about a sixteenth of an inch (approx. 1.6mm) of nail should be visible above the fingertip when viewed from the palm side of the hand. But this depends very much on how near to the end of the finger the living part of the nail bed extends. On my own hands I cannot see any nail from the palm side, even though I have 2–3mm of white nail extending beyond the quick on each of my fingers, because I have a relatively short nail bed. If I were to grow my nails to the length suggested, they would be much too long for me.

One thing that you could try is to fold a sheet of micro-mesh over one of the strings of your guitar in the area of the sound hole where you normally play. Then 'play' the string a few times with one of your fingers, so that the abrasive sheet wears down your nail along the line that your nail actually travels on the string when you make a stroke. This should give you a good starting point, but really it is a process of trial and error. Your ears must be the judge of when you have achieved a suitable shape; looking at other players' nails is pretty much useless.
I'm going to ask a classical guitarist friend of mine here in Cape Town to help with the placing the micro mesh and then we can check where my nails/fingers make contact. Thank you so much for this idea! Much appreciated. I might not have to grow them as long as I have been thinking... :)

MorneZaayman
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Re: Getting used to longer nails

Post by MorneZaayman » Thu Jan 26, 2017 6:25 pm

spanishguitarmusic wrote:
Captonius wrote:
spanishguitarmusic wrote:I just keep them short and not too long past the edge of my fingers. As long as they can catch the strings, that's good enough for me. Always file your nails, but don't cut them at all. You can use some lotion or vitamin E oil on your nails. I've even heard that garlic can be used on them to strengthen them. I haven't tried to use garlic, so I don't know if it works or not.
I have a tissue oil with Vitamin E in... maybe I should use that.
I have read about garlic but haven't tried it. I also read about using white iodine...

Will use a file from now :)
Oh, I didn't hear about using white iodine. Something else to try I guess :)
Hehe... it's worth a shot. Give it a go and I am eager to hear if you notice any changes or anything really :)

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spanishguitarmusic
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Re: Getting used to longer nails

Post by spanishguitarmusic » Thu Jan 26, 2017 11:04 pm

Captonius wrote:
spanishguitarmusic wrote:
Captonius wrote:
I have a tissue oil with Vitamin E in... maybe I should use that.
I have read about garlic but haven't tried it. I also read about using white iodine...

Will use a file from now :)
Oh, I didn't hear about using white iodine. Something else to try I guess :)
Hehe... it's worth a shot. Give it a go and I am eager to hear if you notice any changes or anything really :)
:) Yeah, I really want to try the garlic and see if it works as I use garlic in foods all the time!

MorneZaayman
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Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Re: Getting used to longer nails

Post by MorneZaayman » Sun Jan 29, 2017 8:17 am

spanishguitarmusic wrote:
Captonius wrote:
spanishguitarmusic wrote:
Oh, I didn't hear about using white iodine. Something else to try I guess :)
Hehe... it's worth a shot. Give it a go and I am eager to hear if you notice any changes or anything really :)
:) Yeah, I really want to try the garlic and see if it works as I use garlic in foods all the time!
I read that you're supposed to mix the garlic in clear nail varnish and let it sit for a few days/week and then use it on the nails and then use lemon/lemon juice to wash away the garlic smell... I have not tried but I am curious :)

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spanishguitarmusic
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Re: Getting used to longer nails

Post by spanishguitarmusic » Mon Jan 30, 2017 1:39 am

Captonius wrote:
spanishguitarmusic wrote:
Captonius wrote:
Hehe... it's worth a shot. Give it a go and I am eager to hear if you notice any changes or anything really :)
:) Yeah, I really want to try the garlic and see if it works as I use garlic in foods all the time!
I read that you're supposed to mix the garlic in clear nail varnish and let it sit for a few days/week and then use it on the nails and then use lemon/lemon juice to wash away the garlic smell... I have not tried but I am curious :)
Oh, I hadn't read this either. It would really good to try it out and see if it works! :) :merci: for this research!

MorneZaayman
Posts: 39
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2016 2:06 pm
Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Re: Getting used to longer nails

Post by MorneZaayman » Mon Jan 30, 2017 6:50 am

spanishguitarmusic wrote:
Captonius wrote:
spanishguitarmusic wrote:
:) Yeah, I really want to try the garlic and see if it works as I use garlic in foods all the time!
I read that you're supposed to mix the garlic in clear nail varnish and let it sit for a few days/week and then use it on the nails and then use lemon/lemon juice to wash away the garlic smell... I have not tried but I am curious :)
Oh, I hadn't read this either. It would really good to try it out and see if it works! :) :merci: for this research!
You're welcome. Keep me posted and let's see how it goes :)

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spanishguitarmusic
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Re: Getting used to longer nails

Post by spanishguitarmusic » Tue Jan 31, 2017 12:27 am

Captonius wrote:
spanishguitarmusic wrote:
Captonius wrote:
I read that you're supposed to mix the garlic in clear nail varnish and let it sit for a few days/week and then use it on the nails and then use lemon/lemon juice to wash away the garlic smell... I have not tried but I am curious :)
Oh, I hadn't read this either. It would really good to try it out and see if it works! :) :merci: for this research!
You're welcome. Keep me posted and let's see how it goes :)
Yes for sure, it will be interesting to see if it actually works or not! :)

Giomhurtbees
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Re: Getting used to longer nails

Post by Giomhurtbees » Sun Feb 19, 2017 12:03 am

Check scott tennant's video about nails on YouTube, it's interesting. He explains with drawings why some shape will work better than another. But best is to try and see what works best for you.

Pat Hargan
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Location: Galway, Ireland

Re: Getting used to longer nails

Post by Pat Hargan » Mon Feb 20, 2017 4:35 pm

I'm going to ask a classical guitarist friend of mine here in Cape Town to help with the placing the micro mesh and then we can check where my nails/fingers make contact. Thank you so much for this idea! Much appreciated. I might not have to grow them as long as I have been thinking... :)
I got the tip from Matthew McAllister. He explains it in detail in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QT-_2Z3cN2k

Another video about nail shaping that I would recommend is by William Kanengiser of the LA Guitar Quartet. It is quite long but gives the clearest explanation I have seen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJ36c3_6jks
Raimundo 660E - D'Addario Pro Arté EJ45 Normal Tension

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