The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #32647   Message #431115
Posted By: Whistle Stop
02-Apr-01 - 08:38 AM
Thread Name: Fingernails vs. Fingerpicks
Subject: RE: Help: Fingernails vs. Fingerpicks
I'm sure I've posted this on other threads, including one or more of those provided above. I have been cultivating my right hand nails for about thirty years, first as a young classical guitar player, then to accommodate other (steel-string) styles as well. While it's worth exploring fingerpicks, artificial nails, and the various nail preservation substances that are our there, I think there's a lot you can do to make the most of what you were born with.

I have found that making nail maintenance part of my daily life is what works best for me. First, shape the nail so that it follows the countour of your fingertip; hold your hand up at eye level, palm facing you, and look to see just a hint of smoothly-rounded nail peeking over your fingertip. Make sure there are no angles or places that can catch on things; the white part of the nail should curve gently into the pink part in a smooth arc. Then, maintain the nails by gently massaging/polishing them with the less-raspy side of an emery board. Don't rely on anything too fancy or laborious, because then it becomes a chore that you'll avoid. Instead, buy a bunch of emery boards, and keep them in every room of your house, in your car, at work, etc. Get into the habit of smoothing your nails with the emery board at idle moments -- when watching television, sitting at red lights, talking on the phone, etc. Don't dig in too hard with the emery board, or you'll create small tears in the nail that will gradually expand; think of water dripping on a rock and smoothing it away, rather than rasping through your nail like a file cuts through prison bars. Get into the habit of running your nails across your fingertips (or over your clothing) to seek out rough spots, and polishing them away when you find them.

It sounds like a lot of work, but the point is that it's not -- in fact, it becomes a habit that you do almost unconsiously, like drumming your fingers on a table top or twirling your hair around your finger. If you do this for a while, and drink lots of water (staying well hydrated is the best way to keep your nails from cracking), you'll have the best nails you can have -- and then if they're still not working for you, you'll know that you have to try something else.

Sorry for the long posting, but as I said, I've been doing this forever. Hope it helps.