Guitar Player Nails

Nail care, nail problems, and the use of nails in playing the classical guitar.
dtoh
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Re: Guitar Player Nails Beware

Post by dtoh » Sat Feb 04, 2017 11:29 pm

davekear wrote:
dtoh wrote:Every time I read these new nail posts, I feel sorry for the poor ignorant souls who still follow these crude medieval cures for nail problems. Do you also treat medical problems with blood letting.

Seriously go to a manicurist and get a soft gel treatment. You won't believe how foolish you feel for not having done it sooner.
No, we don't do blood letting, but we have thousands of guitarists who use our nails, and have been for many years; including Eliot Fisk, Grisha Goryachev, and many other professional guitarists who use our nails and methods of application on a daily basis as a permanent fingernail solution. If you let manicurists apply gel to your nails, most likely you will never realize your playing potential. If you strum folk music and sing along, then that's fine; get some gel nails. If however you want the dexterity, diversity and quality of tone, and feel of great natural nails, then maybe not. There is a science and an art to artificial nails for guitarists. There is a learning curve, but it's not rocket science either. But you do need to know what you're doing. You can have artificial nails that sound and feel like the best natural nails you've ever had, that are 100% safe to use on a daily basis every day for the rest of your life. But you have to know what you're doing.
Well apparently you are not familiar with soft gels, which, unlike hard gels or acrylics, preserve the feel and flexibility of your natural nails. There is no learning curve and you don't need to know what you're doing. Just go to a competent manicurist and then file/polish as you naturally would. No need for electric grinders. No sealing with nail glues. No silk wraps.

davekear
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Re: Guitar Player Nails Beware

Post by davekear » Sun Feb 05, 2017 12:38 am

Yes, we're very familiar with soft gel nails. And again, your tone and playability will suffer, and you will not get the feel or the diversity and quality of tone necessary to play classical guitar well. In addition, when you have someone apply a nail for you, especially gel or acrylics, the nature of the methods of application, plus the materials they use, will result in a nail that in almost all cases won't have the timbre, diversity of tone or playability that is needed for the precision and finesse necessary in classical or flamenco guitar playing. And you're right, there's no learning curve for someone to go sit in a salon and have someone put on a nail for them. But one of the difficult things for beginning and intermediate players when it comes to nails is that they don't, in many cases, have the ability to tell what sounds right or feels right. So many of them will go on using these not so workable "techniques" and will find it very hard to improve their playing. As far as us being outdated, we're up to date on the most workable solutions for fingernails for guitarists that you'll find anywhere. We get success stories every day.

dtoh
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Re: Guitar Player Nails Beware

Post by dtoh » Mon Feb 06, 2017 5:22 am

davekear wrote:Yes, we're very familiar with soft gel nails.
Who said anything about "gel nails." I'm talking about gel treatments, which are very different than gel nails.

davekear
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Re: Guitar Player Nails Beware

Post by davekear » Mon Feb 06, 2017 7:41 am

dtoh wrote:
davekear wrote:Yes, we're very familiar with soft gel nails.
Who said anything about "gel nails." I'm talking about gel treatments, which are very different than gel nails.
Again, we're very familiar with gel treatments, which results in "gel nails". Both hard and soft gel treatments make poor nails for guitarists. But if you're happy, that's great. We're not trying to promote anything here, just interested in helping people with their nails.

It's not an easy thing to create fingernails that sound and feel really good. As I said before, there is a bit of a learning curve involved, but it can be done. But with gel treatments you just won't get very good results. It's a matter of tone and feel, both of which are very important. And I recommend that anyone who is serious about learning to play well, to avoid gel and acrylics. Or if you're going to use them, just know that most of the time your results will not be standard, and most likely will cause you problems and bad performance. It would be better to learn to use nail tips with some wrap, or ping pong balls.
Last edited by davekear on Mon Feb 06, 2017 8:53 am, edited 2 times in total.

dtoh
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Re: Guitar Player Nails Beware

Post by dtoh » Mon Feb 06, 2017 8:51 am

davekear wrote: Again, we're very familiar with gel treatments, which results in "gel nails".
Gel treatments do not result in "gel nails." One is a coating applied to the top surface of the nail. The other is an artificial nail tip created using a hard gel. The elasticity and plasticity are very different, and one results in contacting the string with an artificial material while the other does not.
And I recommend that anyone who is serious about learning to play well, to avoid gel and acrylics.
Soft gels and acrylics are in no way similar.

davekear
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Re: Guitar Player Nails Beware

Post by davekear » Mon Feb 06, 2017 9:26 am

dtoh wrote:
davekear wrote: Again, we're very familiar with gel treatments, which results in "gel nails".
Gel treatments do not result in "gel nails." One is a coating applied to the top surface of the nail. The other is an artificial nail tip created using a hard gel. The elasticity and plasticity are very different, and one results in contacting the string with an artificial material while the other does not.
And I recommend that anyone who is serious about learning to play well, to avoid gel and acrylics.
Soft gels and acrylics are in no way similar.
You can apply gel, either hard or soft, to either the top of your natural nail, or you can use it with a nail form to create new nail. Using gel on top of your natural nail for extra strength is fine, but will add bulk and muffle your tone. And as far as adding any significant strength goes, really won't help at all. It would be better to use silk, or fiberglass wrap and nail glue for tone and extra strength. And instead of $30.00, will cost about 50 cents. You can also use gel, soft or hard, to create an artificial tip by using a nail form to brush the gel past your natural nail tip and create new nail. If you do this you will get very poor performance, and your dexterity and tone will suffer. It's just the way it is. All gel nails sound terrible. It's kind of a muffled sound that goes thud. And soft gel has even worse tone than hard gel. Anyone reading this, I recommend you Google "soft or hard nail gel". It will give you a few more specifics on this.

dtoh
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Re: Guitar Player Nails Beware

Post by dtoh » Mon Feb 06, 2017 10:13 am

davekear wrote:Using gel on top of your natural nail for extra strength is fine, but will add bulk and muffle your tone. And as far as adding any significant strength goes, really won't help at all.


Maybe I'm the exception because I had cracked or broken nails once every other week even when using silk wraps and nail glue, but after using gel treatments I've had two small cracks in 18 months.
It would be better to use silk, or fiberglass wrap and nail glue for tone and extra strength.
So silk, fiberglass and nail glue are not subject to the laws of physics and don't add bulk to your nails?
And instead of $30.00, will cost about 50 cents.
Agree. As I've said before, gel treatments are expensive relative to other nail solutions.
You can also use gel, soft or hard, to create an artificial tip by using a nail form to brush the gel past your natural nail tip and create new nail. If you do this you will get very poor performance, and your dexterity and tone will suffer. It's just the way it is. All gel nails sound terrible. It's kind of a muffled sound that goes thud. And soft gel has even worse tone than hard gel. Anyone reading this, I recommend you Google "soft or hard nail gel". It will give you a few more specifics on this.
I have never tried and have no opinion on the tone of gel nails or other artificial nail solutions, but it would not surprise me if soft gel nails did sound good. Soft gel is very flexible, which is why it preserves the feel and elasticity of your natural nails, but that very property would make it unsuitable as an artificial nail where greater rigidity (similar to a natural nail) is required. Similarly, hard gel or acrylic would be much more rigid that a natural nail.

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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Guitar Player Nails Beware

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Mon Feb 06, 2017 3:31 pm

I'd just like to offer my own experience for what it is worth.

Some context - I have paper-thin nails; so thin that even nylon strings rip through them. Consequently I have struggled to perform consistently without some sort of support. At one point the whole thing became so frustrating that I gave up professional guitar in favour of the lute, earning my living for an extended period working at early music festivals, medieval guild halls etc., etc.

Drawn back to the guitar - always my first love - I tried any and all methods for strengthening my natural nail material i.e. dietary changes and/or supplements, chemical compounds, vinegar concoctions - hundreds of pounds spent on tiny bottles of supposedly "miraculous" substances from beauty departments and even several years of rubbing "hoof oil" into the nail and cuticle. Result ...

... nothing. Not one iota of improvement ... ever ... and I tried really, really hard over an extended period.

So - I turned in the end to artificial means - and again I've tried them all - gels, soft and hard, ping-pong balls, Rico nails - everything that's ever been suggested. The one and only system that actually sounded like real nail and gave me the same flexibility was GPN (followed closely by the ping-pong ball).

Yes, gels/acrylics do work (sort of) but Davekear is correct - they add a disproportionate bulk to the nail which alters and restricts the available tonal palette considerably. Rico nails are ok but again - they are a bit heavy, giving one kind of decent sound but not the same range of timbre as GPN.

As an example of the quality of sound that can be achieved (and whilst fully acknowledging that I am not primarily a concert artist - just a simple teacher), on an occasion performing an all Bach program together with Ewa Jablczynska, Dariusz Kupinski and Giulio Tampalini, my sound (wearing the GPN material) was described as the best. Other variable factors? All four guitars were spruce Woodfields and the strings: Giulio and I used J45s, the other two - Knobloch 450CX. That's a good enough result for me.

Just to be clear - I make no wild claim as to the performance by the way - just the sound quality.

I have absolutely no connection with GPN other than having been a customer in the past - I use a different system now, which suits me for the moment, but I still have a store of GPN material sitting in reserve.

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pogmoor
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Re: Guitar Player Nails Beware

Post by pogmoor » Mon Feb 06, 2017 5:14 pm

Thanks, Mark, it's good to have an unbiased view!
Eric from GuitarLoot
Renaissance and Baroque freak; classical guitars by Paul Fischer (1995) and Lester Backshall (2008)
Yamaha SLG 130NW silent classical guitar (2014), Ramirez Guitarra del Tiempo (2017)

davekear
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Re: Guitar Player Nails Beware

Post by davekear » Mon Feb 06, 2017 7:05 pm

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:I'd just like to offer my own experience for what it is worth.
I have absolutely no connection with GPN other than having been a customer in the past - I use a different system now, which suits me for the moment, but I still have a store of GPN material sitting in reserve.
Thanks Mark. That's the bottom line, whatever works best for any individual. And there are solutions out there that work better than others. Creating great sounding artificial nails is not an easy thing to do, not rocket science, but it does take a level of understanding of many things that are involved. It's also important to know a few very important basics no matter what technique or materials you use. Here's a couple of them:
No matter what material you're using, acrylics, ping pong balls, gel, Guitarplayernails etc, always make sure that the nail is sealed at all times. Best way to do this is if you see your nail starting to peel or lift off, get some thin fingernail glue and "wick" the glue in behind the nail so it fills in that area. That way you won't get water in between the natural nail and the artificial nail. If you get water in between the nails, it can sit there, soften the nail, and create an environment for fungus. This is actually very rare, and sealing a nail is really easy to do. But never let a nail fall off on its own. Either have it sealed, or removed.
Removing nails is also an important thing to consider. Many times after removing an artificial nail, you can end up with a thinner natural nail for various reasons. If this occurs, it's a good idea to build up the natural nail with some nail glue before applying a new nail or growing out your natural nail. It's best to use a more viscous brush on nail glue, as it builds up quicker, and if you're using nail glue dryer, builds up less heat than thin glue. The nail will grow out in a few weeks and be fine. Also you have the choice of soaking the artificial nail off in chemicals, or filing it off. After over twenty years of doing this, my advice is to get a rotary nail file (or Dremel), and file them off. With a rotary nail file you can monitor the nail you're filing as you do so. They're very accurate and fast. Depending on what type of nail you have on, you can file it off in a matter of seconds to maybe a minute at the most. Soaking in chemicals can take over an hour, is messy, and uses harsh chemicals. Electric nail file is the way to go.The only two bits you really need are a medium flat barrel carbide, and a carbide, tapered under nail bit.
Also I should mention that when using any nail method, to cover 3/4 of the nail plate at the most. Always leave free natural nail at the back. If you have a rotary file, they work great for tapering the back of the nail.
Just a couple of things you may find useful.

twistedblues
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Re: Guitar Player Nails Beware

Post by twistedblues » Tue Feb 07, 2017 3:40 pm

This subject is what held me back on jumping into fingerstyle. Im going to Try and use my own nails.. anyone have some good recommendations on nail filers?

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pogmoor
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Re: Guitar Player Nails Beware

Post by pogmoor » Tue Feb 07, 2017 4:40 pm

twistedblues wrote:This subject is what held me back on jumping into fingerstyle. Im going to Try and use my own nails.. anyone have some good recommendations on nail filers?
That's a different topic. It's best to start a new thread as discussions get muddled with more than one topic in a thread. Alternatively use forum search to find previous discussions, or look here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=94051#p1000298 or here: viewtopic.php?f=87&t=57635
Eric from GuitarLoot
Renaissance and Baroque freak; classical guitars by Paul Fischer (1995) and Lester Backshall (2008)
Yamaha SLG 130NW silent classical guitar (2014), Ramirez Guitarra del Tiempo (2017)

twistedblues
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Re: Guitar Player Nails Beware

Post by twistedblues » Tue Feb 07, 2017 6:20 pm

Gotcha. Thanks

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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Guitar Player Nails Beware

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Wed Feb 08, 2017 12:08 pm

I just had a private message from "dtoh" which brought to mind a secondary consideration. I'm posting it here rather than directly back to him as it may be of interest to someone else.

Due to the nature of my nails - very thin and flexible - they are particularly prone to change under different climatic conditions. Cold on the one hand makes them incredibly brittle, warmth makes them so flexible that I can roll them up like a tube of wrapping paper whilst humidity causes "wrinkling". That's how I describe it - not only a downwards, claw-like, hook but a wavy edge to boot.

My experience with gels is therefore coloured by this - the gel or acrylic merely follows the shape of the original nail offering no improvement in that regard other than to maintain whatever shape they happened to be on the day of application. Someone with nicely formed natural nails may well experience things slightly differently. The thickening issue will remain of course but that is no better or worse than when using Rico nails or similar.

So, one other factor in my favouring of GPN is that the application process actually offered me the possibility of changing the profile of the nail itself. That may or may not be a necessary consideration for others.

I also found (and this is still the case) that following removal of the GPN material my nails appeared a little stronger than previously. This is obviously a subjective observation but at the very least he glue application has certainly not caused any deterioration in their integrity. Quite the opposite - in more intimate settings, say up to 50 people, I am now able to perform comfortably using my natural nails.

And finally - it appears that there may be several different kinds of soft gel treatments. I wasn't aware of that at the time and can't specify now which one(s) I experienced (though I am trying to find out).

Dave Stott
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Re: Guitar Player Nails Beware

Post by Dave Stott » Wed Feb 08, 2017 12:14 pm

just a piece of public service / advice.

If your preferred location for getting nails applied is using UV lamps to cure your nails... Please ask them to use LED lamps for curing the nails. UV is the primary cause of Melanoma cancer. Bob Marley died from complications of a melanoma under a toenail that he ignored.
2015 Cordoba GK Pro Negra
2015 Cordoba Solista Cedar
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