Observations on Acrylic, UV gel and Silk wraps

Nail care, nail problems, and the use of nails in playing the classical guitar.
MarkJ

Observations on Acrylic, UV gel and Silk wraps

Post by MarkJ » Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:56 am

There have been several posts on various nail treatments in this forum, and I have tried them all at one time or another. So I am throwing in my observations and experiences with these. I build guitars, so my nails are constantly getting abused by contact with planes, chisels, clamps, etc. Without reinforcement, I would be frequently breaking nails, and I like to play guitars as much as I like to build them. Hope this useful for those that are considering some form of nail reinforcement.

Acrylic powder: I had this stuff applied by a nail tech every couple weeks for a year or so, then started doing my own. The liquid that dissolves the powder smells bad, but the results are OK. The sound is acceptable as long as you have actual nail in contact with the string, but if the acrylic extends beyond the nail I find the tonal qualities to be marginal. The major downside is that when the material starts to lift off the nail bed, and that will happen given enough time, it takes nail material with it. When this happens more than once, the nail bed becomes totally messed up and thin. Overall, I rate this as my least favorite approach.

UV cured gel:
After using acrylic for a year and a half, I bough a UV lamp and the gel in hopes that the material would reinforce without destroying the nail bed. This stuff works pretty well. It is much easier to apply than acrylic. However, it too will lift off eventually and remove some nail with it. Not nearly as damaging as acrylic, but not great. As with acrylic, the sound is OK as long as actual nail contacts the strings.

Silk Wrap: After using UV gel for 2 years, I tried silk wraps. I do it myself. This is nothing more than thin, tight-weave fabric that you cut to shape and peel off a paper backing. Once applied to the nail, you apply a drop or two of CA glue (super glue) that soaks through the material and secures it to the nail. I use at least two layers, covering the top 1/2 of the nail. Let the glue set between layers. A light sanding and then a couple coats of clear polish and you are in business. (Miracle Nail Hardener from Sally's is the best that I have found as it does not chip off). I have never had a wrap lift off in over two years. When the wrap grows out to near the end of the nail, you can remove the wrap by rubbing with a paper towel dampened with acetone, The nail bed will be as good as when you applied it - no damage. Shape and polish the ends with a board and 2000+ grit sandpaper.

Overall, I highly recommend silk wraps. They look completely natural, are thin but incredibly strong, sound good, and won't destroy your nail bed.

User avatar
Vito Simplicio
Composer & Moderator
Composer & Moderator
Posts: 13946
Joined: Sun Apr 23, 2006 2:39 am
Location: Maricopa, Arizona - USA

Re: Observations on Acrylic, UV gel and Silk wraps

Post by Vito Simplicio » Mon Mar 10, 2008 11:09 am

Hi Mark,

A most informative post. I've been going to a nail shop for the last 5 years getting the acrylic powder treatment. I'm interested in hearing more about the silk wrap since you feel that's the best approach.

Where do you buy it? Does it come with a kit?

Thanks for your help.
( vitO )===:::

Oberg (2008)
Takamine C136S (1977)

Classical Guitar Forum

Robert03

Re: Observations on Acrylic, UV gel and Silk wraps

Post by Robert03 » Mon Mar 10, 2008 12:31 pm

After years of struggling with my nails I started having them silk wrapped. Since Christmas I've had no trouble. The initial cost is minimal, about $6.00 U. S. per finger and $2.00 per finger to maintain them every two weeks. It's the best thing I've ever done.

I never thought of doing it myself. Where would you purchase the materials? :?:

MarkJ

Re: Observations on Acrylic, UV gel and Silk wraps

Post by MarkJ » Mon Mar 10, 2008 12:49 pm

I'm interested in hearing more about the silk wrap since you feel that's the best approach.
Where do you buy it? Does it come with a kit?
I buy the wraps from Sally's beauty supply, but I have seen them at Wallgreens Drug store. I buy the wraps that come in a flat plastic box, pre-cut pieces attached to a strip. There is probably 50 or so pieces per box, and each piece is enough to cut into smaller pieces for at least 2 nails. A box costs about $4.00, and I have only used 1 1/2 boxes in two years. You can buy nail super glue, but that is expensive for what you get so I use medium gap-filling "hot stuff" CA from Woodcrafters that I already have in my shop (I use it to glue on bridge tie-blocks). $7 bucks for a good-sized bottle of 3/4 oz or so. Less than 15 bucks will get you started and is enough for a whole year. You still have to refresh the clear nail polish Every 2 weeks or so, but I don't see that as a big deal

The silk wraps are so easy to do yourself there is no reason to go to a nail shop for this. It takes me less than 20 minutes starting from scratch, and maybe 5 minutes to remove and replace a wrap that has grown out. Most of the time is waiting for the glue to get really hard - don't flood the surface, use just enough to saturate the wrap.

User avatar
Vito Simplicio
Composer & Moderator
Composer & Moderator
Posts: 13946
Joined: Sun Apr 23, 2006 2:39 am
Location: Maricopa, Arizona - USA

Re: Observations on Acrylic, UV gel and Silk wraps

Post by Vito Simplicio » Mon Mar 10, 2008 1:03 pm

MarkJ wrote:
I'm interested in hearing more about the silk wrap since you feel that's the best approach.
Where do you buy it? Does it come with a kit?
I buy the wraps from Sally's beauty supply, but I have seen them at Wallgreens Drug store. I buy the wraps that come in a flat plastic box, pre-cut pieces attached to a strip. There is probably 50 or so pieces per box, and each piece is enough to cut into smaller pieces for at least 2 nails. A box costs about $4.00, and I have only used 1 1/2 boxes in two years. You can buy nail super glue, but that is expensive for what you get so I use medium gap-filling "hot stuff" CA from Woodcrafters that I already have in my shop (I use it to glue on bridge tie-blocks). $7 bucks for a good-sized bottle of 3/4 oz or so. Less than 15 bucks will get you started and is enough for a whole year. You still have to refresh the clear nail polish Every 2 weeks or so, but I don't see that as a big deal

The silk wraps are so easy to do yourself there is no reason to go to a nail shop for this. It takes me less than 20 minutes starting from scratch, and maybe 5 minutes to remove and replace a wrap that has grown out. Most of the time is waiting for the glue to get really hard - don't flood the surface, use just enough to saturate the wrap.
I probably give it a try when I return from my vacation. Thanks again for your help.
( vitO )===:::

Oberg (2008)
Takamine C136S (1977)

Classical Guitar Forum

Robert03

Re: Observations on Acrylic, UV gel and Silk wraps

Post by Robert03 » Mon Mar 10, 2008 11:04 pm

Mark

Thanks for the information.

orbiterred

Re: Observations on Acrylic, UV gel and Silk wraps

Post by orbiterred » Wed Mar 12, 2008 4:36 am

Great post mark,
Do you know how the silk wraps hold up against steel string playing? My main reason for the acrylics ive been using is to protect my nails from steel strings, but after a year so of using them my nails are defintely not as healthy as they were before i started, the silk wraps sound like the answer if they're tough enough to handle the steel string.

MarkJ

Re: Observations on Acrylic, UV gel and Silk wraps

Post by MarkJ » Wed Mar 12, 2008 1:01 pm

Good question. I really don't know how well wraps hold up against steel strings. I put away my Dreadnoughts years ago when I fell under the charms of hand-crafted classical guitars with all their tonal subtlety. The wraps are hard enough to stand up against banging into steel planes and chisels, so I suspect they are every bit as wear-resistant as acrylic, but again, I don't know. Next time an acrylic comes off, try 2 silk wraps on that nail and let us all know how it holds up relative to the acrylic.

orbiterred

Re: Observations on Acrylic, UV gel and Silk wraps

Post by orbiterred » Wed Mar 12, 2008 1:14 pm

acrylics came off a few days ago, im gonna go get some of these and try em out
let you know

User avatar
zorba
Posts: 127
Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2008 1:42 am
Location: West Coast of Canada

Re: Observations on Acrylic, UV gel and Silk wraps

Post by zorba » Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:30 am

Great topic!! In my work I am very rough on my nails, always breaking, chipping, etc. It's very frustrating. I've tried all the different types of finger picks, but I don't like them. I'll be trying the Silk wraps. Thx for all the great info. :D

User avatar
James Lister
Luthier
Posts: 7084
Joined: Fri Nov 17, 2006 3:53 pm
Location: Sheffield, UK

Re: Observations on Acrylic, UV gel and Silk wraps

Post by James Lister » Thu Mar 20, 2008 4:05 pm

Just another vote for silk wraps. Having spent a few years messing about with various types of tissue and superglue, I finally got round to buying some of the adhesive silk stuff. I bought it in a long strip, and it will probably last many years (if I don't lose it!). The light adhesive holds the silk in place till you apply the superglue, which makes it pretty easy to use. Yesterday I managed to snap my thumb nail almost clean off. The repair took me about 10 minutes (I used two layers of silk), and it looks, feels and sounds fine. I have been using thin glue, but I might switch to the medium viscosity, as the thin stuff sometimes wicks under the nail, sticking it to the flesh.

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

AsturiasFan

Re: Observations on Acrylic, UV gel and Silk wraps

Post by AsturiasFan » Thu Mar 20, 2008 4:55 pm

MarkJ wrote:UV cured gel:[/b] After using acrylic for a year and a half, I bough a UV lamp and the gel in hopes that the material would reinforce without destroying the nail bed. This stuff works pretty well. It is much easier to apply than acrylic. However, it too will lift off eventually and remove some nail with it. Not nearly as damaging as acrylic, but not great. As with acrylic, the sound is OK as long as actual nail contacts the strings.
You have me convinced on the silk wraps. I believe Silk Wraps were Christopher Parkering’s preference.

I once tried the Bella Natural Polycrlyics that are part of a UV system--a lot of vendors have exactly the same system. The claims about this system are that it is better than normal acrylic gels since it is non toxic, doesn't smell, allows the nail to breathe, and doesn't damage the nail. However, the main problem I had was maintenance. Natural oils would cause the product to lift off the nail and trying to remove the section lifting off was difficult to impossible since the whole polycrlyic is basically once piece--I would have to take some nail off with it.

roguetwanger

Re: Observations on Acrylic, UV gel and Silk wraps

Post by roguetwanger » Wed Mar 26, 2008 8:52 am

I have just used Savaraz silk repair kit. It worked well and I could continue to play. However the natural nail was very soft and tearable so I have had to abandon this and wait for the new nail to grow back. If I try Miracle Nail Hardener from Sally's is this different and will the new nail be stronger. This is a real problem for me. I will try some of the products mentioned in this forum.

MarkJ

Re: Observations on Acrylic, UV gel and Silk wraps

Post by MarkJ » Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:23 pm

If I try Miracle Nail Hardener from Sally's is this different and will the new nail be stronger.
No, the nail hardener is just a good top coat that seals and does not easily chip off. To get strength, you need to first apply 2 layers of silk wrap. Then seal with the nail hardener

wedge

Re: Observations on Acrylic, UV gel and Silk wraps

Post by wedge » Fri Mar 28, 2008 12:22 am

Mark,
Never mind - my nail's gone, so I need an artificial nail. Film at 11...
Last edited by wedge on Thu Jun 26, 2008 11:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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