Products for Softening the Nails?

Nail care, nail problems, and the use of nails in playing the classical guitar.
davekear
Posts: 408
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2016 1:12 am
Location: California

Re: Products for Softening the Nails?

Post by davekear » Thu Jun 28, 2018 3:15 am

Don't thin your nails, you'll make them weak; Very hard to control. You'll have weak spots, that when your nail grows out to them...there goes your nail. Strong nails are a blessing. The tone you're after is in how you file your nails, and your ability to draw the tone you want from your guitar. What you want is diversity of tone. You want to be able to get a nice warm "Dolce" as well as a crisp bright "ponticello", and everything in between. Make sure your nails are the proper length, and that they are as smooth as glass. Then work on your tone. I've taught hundreds of students over the years, I've never seen any that have nails that are too thick. Even if they don't have much flexibility, that's OK. You're not after flexibility, you're after tone control.

PeteJ
Posts: 1316
Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2016 12:52 pm

Re: Products for Softening the Nails?

Post by PeteJ » Thu Jun 28, 2018 11:09 am

Thanks again for all the ideas. To be clear, my nails are not dry, just strong. I'm going to order the products recommended by Lagartija and meanwhile will try the olive oil trick recommended by Karen. My international concert schedule is empty until the next family Christmas jam session so I'm not panicking.

raven
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:37 pm
Location: Columbia, Missouri

Re: Products for Softening the Nails?

Post by raven » Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:11 pm

I've had really good results with an oil based product over the past 18 months but am going to switch to what Karen does since I suspect it will work just as well. I'm using Flexinail which has the main ingredient of jojoba oil it appears plus a zillion other ingredients of doubtful significance. Still, it has worked great...a little pricey though. Which is why I'm going to try olive oil or something similar and see if it doesn't work just as well. It took about 3 months of daily use but then the nails were softer and tone greatly improved.

BellyDoc
Posts: 185
Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2017 12:52 am
Location: Phoenix, AZ

Re: Products for Softening the Nails?

Post by BellyDoc » Fri Jun 29, 2018 4:57 am

I also have thick, inflexible nails, but I love them!

Currently, I like my own tone the best when the nails are short. I shape with a glass file, then smooth and polish to a high gloss on the edges with micro mesh cloths.

In my admittedly very limited experience, the most important part of my nail shaping routine is a subtle ramp that leads the string off of flesh and onto nail. If I screw that up, I get to where the nail more likely hooks the string, delays the note, and gives me a degree of unwanted attack that I have difficulty eliminating. When I don't screw up, I get a smoother stroke, a mellow tone and some options for different tone based on how I address the string. For me, it's all about shape and not length. My nail plates don't flex much that I can detect. However, the nail bed does! The nail bed is anchored to the underlying bone with some ligamentous filaments that allow for some movement of the plate relative to the bone.

I don't think it's reasonable to expect to alter the material properties of nail plates in any meaningful positive way. I wouldn't recommend "thinning" because the nail plate material isn't uniform. It's a sandwich with harder material on top and bottom, and softer in the center. If you actually thin it by polishing it down on the surface, you could easily get through the dorsal stratum and encourage flaking. If that happens, it could take a long time to grow out enough nail to reverse the effect.
"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." -Sir Isaac Newton

Armin Hanika 56PF

PeteJ
Posts: 1316
Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2016 12:52 pm

Re: Products for Softening the Nails?

Post by PeteJ » Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:01 am

Yes, on reflection I also decided thinning is a bad idea. I want longer nails for speed and tone but can't get them through the through the string or find a good tone and never could. Warm water works a treat and solves the problem. I've heard of top players doing this although I don't know any examples, and I've met a few lesser players who like to do it. Flexinail sounds like the right sort of thing. I'll have a look.

PeteJ
Posts: 1316
Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2016 12:52 pm

Re: Products for Softening the Nails?

Post by PeteJ » Wed Jul 04, 2018 11:55 am

ironic that it's been so hot recently that my nails are fine. Perhaps I need to move to a Mediterranean climate.

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