Help! Cracked nail

Nail care, nail problems, and the use of nails in playing the classical guitar.
User avatar
mike.janel
Posts: 657
Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2014 12:55 pm
Location: Israel

Re: Help! Cracked nail

Post by mike.janel » Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:22 pm

Kevin Cowen wrote:
Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:07 pm
Just cut it and let it grow back.
Depending on how sensitive your nails are for glue, that may be the right thing to do.
Cut it, play without nail for few weeks, treat it and let it heal.
The pain indicates damage to the nail bed, best thing is to let it heal (if you don't have a concert tomorrow and can aford it)

Mike
Michael
-----------------------------------------------
2013 Amalio Burguet 3M (Cedar)
1989 Yamaha CG 110 (Spruce)

davekear
Posts: 236
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2016 1:12 am
Location: California

Re: Help! Cracked nail

Post by davekear » Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:35 pm

Tom Wimsatt wrote:
Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:43 pm

If I were you I'd follow the suggestion: "nail glue and some silk wrap", go buy nail glue at the pharmacy. Don't use CA glue. I've found that stuff, while it does adhere, causes brittleness and breaking. The nail glue I bought from the pharmacy works great, and without the embrittlement problem.

I also think a trip to the nail salon might be a good idea too. They certainly know how to deal with these problems, and can give you some nail repair tips as well.
The nail glue and wrap is a good idea. However, all fingernail glue is CA based, even if bought at the pharmacy. Fingernail glue, and "super glue" are basically the same stuff. Though some have additives like PMMA, Poly(methyl methacrylate), and other ingredients. None really help make this stuff less brittle. They even have rubber toughened CA's. Some of it may help a bit, but the brittleness characteristics of CA remain. It's still the best nail glue however. When repairing a crack, it's best to cover just the crack and a little bit on the sides. Don't cover the whole nail. Use wrap, (silk or fiberglass) and cover the crack, and extend it a bit on the sides of the crack. Apply the glue fairly heavy just in the area of the crack. This way the rest of the nail doesn't get brittle, and the nail will grow out without incident. (Hopefully). There are however, different chemical formulas of CA that tend to be a bit less brittle than mainstream nail glues that you can experiment with. There is Octyl cyanoacrylate and Butyl cyanoacrylate. Both are used for medical stitches. The easiest one to try would be the Butyl cyanoacrylate, that one is used by veterinarians. You can find that online in the form of "Vet Bond" and others. Pretty expensive stuff, but it is less brittle. Still some brittleness, but less. Also, I don't think the Octyl and Butyl are as strong as the regular CA's, so a bit of a trade off there. Regular nail glue/super glue cyanoacrylate is known as ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate or just ethyl cyanoacrylate.

Kevin Cowen
Posts: 109
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:03 pm

Re: Help! Cracked nail

Post by Kevin Cowen » Thu Oct 19, 2017 10:54 pm

mike.janel wrote:
Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:22 pm
Kevin Cowen wrote:
Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:07 pm
Just cut it and let it grow back.
Depending on how sensitive your nails are for glue, that may be the right thing to do.
Cut it, play without nail for few weeks, treat it and let it heal.
The pain indicates damage to the nail bed, best thing is to let it heal (if you don't have a concert tomorrow and can aford it)

Mike
I'm assuming the op hasn't a concert tomorrow.
Seeing as it wasn't mentioned.

Tom Wimsatt
Student of the online lessons
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue Mar 07, 2017 10:51 pm
Location: Northern Alabama

Re: Help! Cracked nail

Post by Tom Wimsatt » Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:11 pm

davekear wrote:
Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:35 pm
Tom Wimsatt wrote:
Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:43 pm

If I were you I'd follow the suggestion: "nail glue and some silk wrap", go buy nail glue at the pharmacy. Don't use CA glue. I've found that stuff, while it does adhere, causes brittleness and breaking. The nail glue I bought from the pharmacy works great, and without the embrittlement problem.

I also think a trip to the nail salon might be a good idea too. They certainly know how to deal with these problems, and can give you some nail repair tips as well.
The nail glue and wrap is a good idea. However, all fingernail glue is CA based, even if bought at the pharmacy. Fingernail glue, and "super glue" are basically the same stuff. Though some have additives like PMMA, Poly(methyl methacrylate), and other ingredients. None really help make this stuff less brittle. They even have rubber toughened CA's. Some of it may help a bit, but the brittleness characteristics of CA remain. It's still the best nail glue however. When repairing a crack, it's best to cover just the crack and a little bit on the sides. Don't cover the whole nail. Use wrap, (silk or fiberglass) and cover the crack, and extend it a bit on the sides of the crack. Apply the glue fairly heavy just in the area of the crack. This way the rest of the nail doesn't get brittle, and the nail will grow out without incident. (Hopefully). There are however, different chemical formulas of CA that tend to be a bit less brittle than mainstream nail glues that you can experiment with. There is Octyl cyanoacrylate and Butyl cyanoacrylate. Both are used for medical stitches. The easiest one to try would be the Butyl cyanoacrylate, that one is used by veterinarians. You can find that online in the form of "Vet Bond" and others. Pretty expensive stuff, but it is less brittle. Still some brittleness, but less. Also, I don't think the Octyl and Butyl are as strong as the regular CA's, so a bit of a trade off there. Regular nail glue/super glue cyanoacrylate is known as ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate or just ethyl cyanoacrylate.
Well, I should have looked at my nail glue before writing my response. You are absolutely right. Thanks for setting me straight. And I will give the "Vet Bond " stuff a try if the nail glue gives me problems.
1989 Takamine C132S

dtoh
Posts: 224
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:54 pm

Re: Help! Cracked nail

Post by dtoh » Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:40 am

Tom Wimsatt wrote:
Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:43 pm
Sorry to hear this. My thumbnail cracks quite often and seems to take forever to grow back out. Really screws up my playing.
I had the same problem until I started getting soft gel treatments. Now I get maybe one crack a year... and only when I do stupid things (like trying to loosen a screw.)
If I were you I'd follow the suggestion: "nail glue and some silk wrap", go buy nail glue at the pharmacy. Don't use CA glue. I've found that stuff, while it does adhere, causes brittleness and breaking. The nail glue I bought from the pharmacy works great, and without the embrittlement problem.

I also think a trip to the nail salon might be a good idea too. They certainly know how to deal with these problems, and can give you some nail repair tips as well.
That would be my recommendation. A skilled nailist will only apply the nail glue to the inside of the crack and not the surface of the nail. Soft gel applied on top of the nail then provides a flexible and non-brittle coating for additional protection while the nail grows out.

davekear
Posts: 236
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2016 1:12 am
Location: California

Re: Help! Cracked nail

Post by davekear » Fri Oct 20, 2017 5:53 pm

dtoh wrote:
Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:40 am


I had the same problem until I started getting soft gel treatments. Now I get maybe one crack a year... and only when I do stupid things (like trying to loosen a screw.)
That would be my recommendation. A skilled nailist will only apply the nail glue to the inside of the crack and not the surface of the nail. Soft gel applied on top of the nail then provides a flexible and non-brittle coating for additional protection while the nail grows out.
In my experience by putting glue just inside the crack and then adding gel would definitely not be strong enough to repair a cracked nail. It would fail soon after you start to play. Maybe by adding the soft gel on top would help, but soft gel is not known for its strength. You'd have to put it on so thick that it would kill your tone. If using nail glue, it's a good idea to apply wrap first so it straddles the break, and then apply enough nail glue to keep it from breaking again.
Most professional guitarists do their own nails, and don't go to salons. Many reasons for this, the main one being that most nail technicians are not aware of the requisites necessary for achieving feel, tone, timbre etc, necessary for successful classical guitar playing. My advice would be to learn to do your own nails. You get better, faster results, and you don't have to be dependent on others who most likely will not do as good a job as you can yourself. Especially when it comes to just a simple thing such as repairing a cracked nail.

dtoh
Posts: 224
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:54 pm

Re: Help! Cracked nail

Post by dtoh » Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:27 pm

davekear wrote:
Fri Oct 20, 2017 5:53 pm
In my experience by putting glue just inside the crack and then adding gel would definitely not be strong enough to repair a cracked nail. It would fail soon after you start to play.
Speaking from my own experience, I have had this done a dozen times. For me, it has worked perfectly every time without breaking or failing.
Maybe by adding the soft gel on top would help, but soft gel is not known for its strength. You'd have to put it on so thick that it would kill your tone.
This has not been my experience. The benefit of soft gel is that it is both strong and flexible. Even with a thin coat, it flexes but never breaks.
Many reasons for this, the main one being that most nail technicians are not aware of the requisites necessary for achieving feel, tone, timbre etc, necessary for successful classical guitar playing.
In my experience, it's very easy to work with a nailist to get the right thickness and rigidly/flexibility. After one or two visits, I was able to get exactly the feel I wanted. Also since my nailist literally does thousands of nails a month, she is able to obtain a consistency in application, which I would never be able to achieve.
My advice would be to learn to do your own nails. You get better, faster results, and you don't have to be dependent on others who most likely will not do as good a job as you can yourself. Especially when it comes to just a simple thing such as repairing a cracked nail.
For me the nailist does a much better job repairing nails than I ever could (and I had a lot of practice because I had constant problems with breaking and cracking nails.) Also now that I'm getting regular soft gel treatments, broken or cracked nails have become exceptionally rare... maybe once a year when I do something stupid.

celestemcc
Posts: 718
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 5:43 pm

Re: Help! Cracked nail

Post by celestemcc » Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:22 pm

Every time I've ever gone to a manicurist to repair a nail (in an emergency) they've ended up taking off too much of the nailbed -- they roughen the nail with a coarse file to help the acrylic adhere, thus thinning the nail bed. I don't chance that anymore: I'll just repair with a fake or silk and remove that when the crack grows past the nail bed.
2015 Connor spruce/Indian rosewood
1978 Ramirez 1a cedar

davekear
Posts: 236
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2016 1:12 am
Location: California

Re: Help! Cracked nail

Post by davekear » Fri Oct 20, 2017 10:54 pm

celestemcc wrote:
Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:22 pm
Every time I've ever gone to a manicurist to repair a nail (in an emergency) they've ended up taking off too much of the nailbed -- they roughen the nail with a coarse file to help the acrylic adhere, thus thinning the nail bed. I don't chance that anymore: I'll just repair with a fake or silk and remove that when the crack grows past the nail bed.
Yea. Pretty much all the professional guitarists I know, and have known, do their own nails. Actually I don't know any of them who don't do their own nails. It's also nice to be there with your guitar as you do your nails. The fingernails that are done at salons are mostly for women who don't want to break their nails doing dishes. :D (So does that make me a male chauvinist)? But actually there's truth in there. There is no consideration for feel, timbre, tone,etc. All of the important things for a classical guitarists fingernails. Plus it's an entirely different process when creating nails for function compared to cosmetic. Rather than go to a nail salon, it would be better to get yourself a good personal teacher and have him/her show you how to do it. There's only a few things you really need to learn how to do to maintain and fix fingernails. And once you know how to do these things, it usually only takes only a few minutes. Most nail care for guitarists is pretty easy. Definitely not rocket science.

dtoh
Posts: 224
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:54 pm

Re: Help! Cracked nail

Post by dtoh » Sat Oct 21, 2017 2:41 am

celestemcc wrote:
Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:22 pm
Every time I've ever gone to a manicurist to repair a nail (in an emergency) they've ended up taking off too much of the nailbed -- they roughen the nail with a coarse file to help the acrylic adhere, thus thinning the nail bed. I don't chance that anymore: I'll just repair with a fake or silk and remove that when the crack grows past the nail bed.
Not following. In order to take off the nail bed, they would have to file entirely through the nail. I assume you're referring to the nail and not the nail bed. Also I would recommend getting the nailist to use a soft gel rather than acrylic. IMHO there are a lot of problems with acrylics including the one you mention.

celestemcc
Posts: 718
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 5:43 pm

Re: Help! Cracked nail

Post by celestemcc » Sat Oct 21, 2017 1:54 pm

In order to take off the nail bed, they would have to file entirely through the nail
Yes, my language could have been more precise! What I meant was that they roughen the entire nail from cuticle to tip, and in so doing, thin it somewhat: far more than I'd do myself. I've had manicurists fix a nail and in the end it takes my natural nail longer to recover. No soft gels for me, though, simply personal preference. Just would rather do my own because, as Dave says, I have a bit more control over the process.
2015 Connor spruce/Indian rosewood
1978 Ramirez 1a cedar

davekear
Posts: 236
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2016 1:12 am
Location: California

Re: Help! Cracked nail

Post by davekear » Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:50 pm

celestemcc wrote:
Sat Oct 21, 2017 1:54 pm
In order to take off the nail bed, they would have to file entirely through the nail
Yes, my language could have been more precise! What I meant was that they roughen the entire nail from cuticle to tip, and in so doing, thin it somewhat: far more than I'd do myself. I've had manicurists fix a nail and in the end it takes my natural nail longer to recover. No soft gels for me, though, simply personal preference. Just would rather do my own because, as Dave says, I have a bit more control over the process.
Yea, control is a very important thing to consider. Maintaining and repairing nails is an ongoing thing. As a matter of fact, it's a daily thing. It's as important to learn to do your own nails as it is any other technical aspect of the classical guitar. Rest strokes, free strokes, tremolos, and fingernails. All equally as important. if one has any nail mishaps, chips, cracks etc, then it's very important that the guitarist has the knowledge to repair or maintain the nail as these things occur. The good thing is that it's pretty easy to learn how to do these things. Lots of info online, or just get a personal teacher to show you some of these things. Tell you what though, if you're playing a gig, and have a nail situation that needs immediate fixin, what are gonna say, "whoops, can't play anymore tonight, gotta wait until tomorrow until the nail salon opens". Yea, not good. Besides, nail salons generally don't understand guitarists needs, and in almost all cases you can easily learn to do a much better job yourself.

dtoh
Posts: 224
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:54 pm

Re: Help! Cracked nail

Post by dtoh » Sun Oct 22, 2017 2:47 am

For me repairing nails is not an ongoing thing. Since I started getting soft gel treatments, I rarely have broken or cracked nails. Of course, I shape and polish on nearly a daily basis (agree this is an essential skill any CGist must master), and I keep glue and silk for emergency repairs, but frankly I NEVER have to use it anymore.

As to being able to do a better job repairing nails by oneself, my experience has been exactly the opposite, and I find it difficult to understand why one would think this is the case. Self repair involves an inferior material for coating the nail (i.e. glue) which is stiff and brittle, reduces the nail's natural flexibility and may adversely affect tone. In addition it has to be removed by filing or grinding which will always affect the surface of the nail plate. As to application, I certainly can NOT do a better job working one handed with my left hand than a professional with thousands of hours of experience working with both hands and specialized tools. (Maybe I'm an exception and everyone else is miraculously unidextrous.) I also don't understand the argument about the nailist not understanding the needs of the guitarist, the only thing that needs to be communicated is the thickness/thinness of the application of gel and how much of the nail you want it applied to. I have never had an issue communicating this to a nailist (even in foreign countries where I have to use hand signals to communicate.) Seriously, how could anyone actually imagine this would be difficult.

Emergency repair - Yes
Save time/money - IMHO, you should not need to be spending any time on repair.
Do a better job - IMHO not a chance

celestemcc
Posts: 718
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 5:43 pm

Re: Help! Cracked nail

Post by celestemcc » Sun Oct 22, 2017 3:21 pm

I have never had an issue communicating this to a nailist (even in foreign countries where I have to use hand signals to communicate.) Seriously, how could anyone actually imagine this would be difficult.
Very glad it works for you! Seriously, I've not had a lot of luck with it. Either there's a language barrier (and I'm pretty good with that kind of thing usually) or even if not, typical manicurists, American or otherwise, don't get the concept of playing guitar and with nails for that matter, and so don't really listen. That's just been my experience, alas.

Anecdote: I was going to a wedding in Kolkata, and Indian weddings are a very, very fancy big-dress-up thing, so I booked an appointment at a salon where they' get me into my sari (MUCH harder than doing nails, trust me!) -- and doing my hair and makeup was part of the package. Their English was excellent. As I sat in the chair, before I even had a chance to tell the salon ladies not to do my nails, wham: the right i and m were filed to a shape that was more fashion than function, and they sadly regarded my left hand as a bit hopeless but did what they could... Luckily I was spending a long enough time in India that the nails could grow back reasonably well by the time I got back home!
2015 Connor spruce/Indian rosewood
1978 Ramirez 1a cedar

Qsound
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 5:13 am

Re: Help! Cracked nail

Post by Qsound » Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:46 pm

Great replies. Lol on some and knowledge based on others. Being new to site, Love how civil everyone
Is. I'm giving props to all. It is nice to read disagreements have good resolve.
I must say for my self I have to say what I was taught.
1) I wear gloves if any type of labor is involved in my daily life.
2) my combination of 2% milk and half and half Cream in breakfast cereal along with
an ounce or so of cheese in snacks seems to keep "my nails " thick and strong.
When I don't do above they chip, crack, split which decrease my music selection.
3) I always carry clippers and a couple of files to head problems off fast.
Other wise it's the glue, searching for ways to fix, mend, repair my right hand nails.
Granted this is just for me but try gloves and at least carrying clippers and a nail file.
I know some don't like chesse and milk but it's what I was instructed to do when I first started
instructions many years ago. This site and the folks seem really great. Granted I'm new here
but have a few years under my belt. Peace to all

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