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Guitar nails

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C-flat 18 Apr 18 - 10:45 AM
GUEST,Peter Cripps 18 Apr 18 - 10:51 AM
C-flat 18 Apr 18 - 10:59 AM
leeneia 18 Apr 18 - 11:08 AM
GUEST,Mick Pearce (MCP) 18 Apr 18 - 11:24 AM
gillymor 18 Apr 18 - 11:29 AM
gillymor 18 Apr 18 - 11:50 AM
Murray MacLeod 18 Apr 18 - 01:07 PM
GUEST,Andy7 18 Apr 18 - 02:30 PM
Tattie Bogle 18 Apr 18 - 03:46 PM
GUEST,Rigby 18 Apr 18 - 04:20 PM
gillymor 18 Apr 18 - 05:26 PM
C-flat 19 Apr 18 - 02:59 AM
Murray MacLeod 19 Apr 18 - 03:47 AM
Murray MacLeod 19 Apr 18 - 03:51 AM
C-flat 19 Apr 18 - 04:47 AM
GUEST,rewster 19 Apr 18 - 05:38 AM
GUEST,ST 19 Apr 18 - 01:34 PM
GUEST,Jerry 19 Apr 18 - 05:31 PM
Big Al Whittle 20 Apr 18 - 05:24 AM
Murray MacLeod 20 Apr 18 - 05:04 PM
C-flat 23 Apr 18 - 08:26 AM
Murray MacLeod 23 Apr 18 - 10:53 AM
C-flat 25 Apr 18 - 08:51 AM
John MacKenzie 25 Apr 18 - 01:16 PM
Murray MacLeod 25 Apr 18 - 02:55 PM
Bob Hitchcock 27 Apr 18 - 10:34 PM
BobKnight 28 Apr 18 - 11:14 PM
GUEST,rewster 29 Apr 18 - 06:21 AM
John MacKenzie 29 Apr 18 - 12:47 PM
Murray MacLeod 29 Apr 18 - 04:19 PM
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Subject: Guitar nails
From: C-flat
Date: 18 Apr 18 - 10:45 AM

I've played finger-style guitar for many years and never felt fully comfortable using plectrums or wrap-around picks, whether I'm playing acoustic or electric, despite being a "heavy" player.
The downside of this is the havoc wreaked on my poor finger-nails which, occasionally, forced me to reach for the plastic pick for some relief.
A recent rush of blood to the head inspired me to venture into a "nail bar" and have some "gel" creations brushed over the remains of my tattered nails.
Being a mature gentleman with hands resembling pigs trotters, this was the cause of some mild amusement and curiosity in the "salon" however, the finished result was better than I could of imagined!
The gel sets incredibly hard and, with a bit of filing, I can have the exact length and shape I prefer.
They need to be touched-up or replaced every couple of weeks (it costs around £10 for 4 nails)and, at a casual glance, look very natural.
I'm really surprised I hadn't heard of anyone else doing this and the girls in the salon hadn't ever been asked for "guitar nails" before but have since started advertising the service.
My wife has enjoyed the odd witty remark at my expense when she's come across me tending to my nails with a file and some moisturising oil but, that aside, it's been a real boon and has given my playing a fresh push as I'm finding different tones and a lot more volume at my disposal.
Has anyone else here tried this?


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: GUEST,Peter Cripps
Date: 18 Apr 18 - 10:51 AM

I believe Julian Bream did this - worked for him!


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: C-flat
Date: 18 Apr 18 - 10:59 AM

Well, they're good but they haven't made me sound like JB just yet....
I'm hoping though..


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: leeneia
Date: 18 Apr 18 - 11:08 AM

I had a lesson once (bought at a charity auction) from a professional guitar player who had his nails done at a shop. So you're not alone.


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: GUEST,Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 18 Apr 18 - 11:24 AM

I know at least one professional classical guitarist who regularly goes to a nail bar to have his nails done with silk wrap, and I have known other guitarists who use gel. All seem happy with the process.

Personally I've never needed it, even playing steel strung. My nails are moderately strong, with just enough give in them to stop them breaking too easily when they hit something. (My classical guitar case does have stick-on nails in it for emergencies, but I've never needed to use them).

Mick


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: gillymor
Date: 18 Apr 18 - 11:29 AM

I used to do it when I had a day job and was playing a couple of gigs a week on average. Cost about 10 bucks plus tip for 3 nails and well worth it. Between new nails I would fill in behind the artificials with acrylic as my natural nails grew and top coat with clear Sally Hansen's which extended the life of the tips.


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: gillymor
Date: 18 Apr 18 - 11:50 AM

...and it's a good idea to give your nails a break from it occasionally. Let them breathe for a few weeks every so often.


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 18 Apr 18 - 01:07 PM

I have had acrylic nails applied to right hand 3 fingers and thumb for almost 20 years. Note *acrylic* ... prior to having acrylics applied, I tried every conceivable nail reinforcement, including gel nails, silk wraps, glued on strips of ping pong ball and god knows what else ... I went through the lot. Acrylics are IME immeasurably superior to anything else available.

For anybody who is unfamiliar with the process, these are not "glued-on" nails. The nail tech applies a thin acrylic paste, which hardens into a rock-hard layer. There is no need for ultra violet light curing ... the paste hardens on its own.

After 20 years, I can state that I feel no discomfort or embarrassment whatsoever about walking into a nail salon to get me nails done. It helps, I suppose, if, like me, there is no possibility whatsoever that anybody will mistake you for a closet tranny.

One thing to note is that the durability of the nails is directly related to the quality the acrylic powder and the skill of the nail tech. I have had at least a dozen different nail techs over the course of the years, and some of them were useless. I am exceedingly fortunate to have found a nail tech in Edinburgh who is by far the best I have ever come across ... she has her material specially imported, she doesn't use the normal UK suppliers.

If you want to achieve max volume with your fingerpicking, I heartily encourage you to give acrylics a try ... but be sure to use a tech who knows what she is doing.


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: GUEST,Andy7
Date: 18 Apr 18 - 02:30 PM

I only ever fingerpick using the pads of my fingers, never the nails. Is this very unusual, then?


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 18 Apr 18 - 03:46 PM

It's the nails of my left hand that suffer most, as even when cut really short, they grow right down to the end of my fingers, so the strings cut chips and notches in them. I let my right hand nails grow a bit longer, so that I can finger-pick with them, but no additional extras! I did get a collection of pits in my right thumbnail after too much un-guarded thumb- picking!
Probably toldu this story before, which came from Tony McManus: after he moved to Canada, went to a nail parlour, run by Vietnamese nail artists: they could not understand why he only wanted his right hand nails done. He thought he'd finally got through to them, when they asked "You want toenails done?"


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: GUEST,Rigby
Date: 18 Apr 18 - 04:20 PM

I think it's fairly common among fingerstyle guitarists who gig a lot to have professional nail-care. One of Alasdair Roberts' albums credits a nail technician.

Murray, do the acrylic nails have any detrimental effect in the long run on the natural nail?


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: gillymor
Date: 18 Apr 18 - 05:26 PM

I don't think it's unusual Andy, I played with just the flesh of my fingertips for a long time and most steel string players I knew/know either played that way or with fingerpicks. Now I keep my nails fairly short and use a combination of flesh and nail, that gives me the sound I like.


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: C-flat
Date: 19 Apr 18 - 02:59 AM

I'm curious to determine whether I've got gels or acrylics. Murray makes a clear distinction and definitely prefers acrylics.
My "gels" aren't a stick on product, but applied, as Murray described, like a paste, which hardens off. However, they do use UV light to "cure" so I'm confused as to the difference.
I accepted the advice of the nail bar, and I'm very happy with the results, whatever they are, but need to understand all the options in case I'm missing something better.
Thanks for all the input, I had no idea this was so common-place!


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 19 Apr 18 - 03:47 AM

In answer to Rigby, I can only speak from my own experience, but I have encountered no problems whatsoever over the two decades during which I have had acrylic reinforcement. The nail tech will abrade the surface of the natural nail slightly in order to ensure an effective bond between the natural nail and the acrylic, so to that degree I suppose the natural nail is being "weakened" but the degree of "weakening" is infinitesimal. One thing I would stress is that you want a nail tech who will use only a nail file ... if she pulls out a powered Dremel type tool, run a mile.

C-flat, you have gel nails. Again, I can only speak from my own experience, but when I returned to Scotland from the States, I had to find a nail tech and the first one I found only did gel nails. I found that they did not have the same adhesion as the acrylics which I was used to in the States, and they tended to pull away. at the cuticle after a couple of weeks. That may well have been down to the lack of skill on the part of the nail tech, however, and if you are happy with the gels, then all is good.

I also seem to remember that she glued on a silk strip and painted over the strip with the gel prior to the UV curing. My present tech builds up the nail extension (if and when necessary), using the acrylic paste and nothing else. Although you would think that some sort of fabric or silk reinforcement would be necessary, such is not the case ... the hardened acrylic on its own is incredibly strong.


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 19 Apr 18 - 03:51 AM

By "nail file", I mean a flexible abrasive pad of appropriate grit...


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: C-flat
Date: 19 Apr 18 - 04:47 AM

Thanks Murray.
Whilst they don't use a silk strip, I'm sure you're right that these are gels.
I'm going to enquire about acrylics on my next visit.
As you say, after a couple of weeks I need to re-visit due to nail growth which leaves the cuticle edge exposed as a ridge which can catch and lift, so regular upkeep is essential.


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: GUEST,rewster
Date: 19 Apr 18 - 05:38 AM

I've had acrylic nails for 20 years with no problems apart from the occasional crack if the nail is struck hard for some reason. My nail tech applies a thin coating and it dries rock hard. You have a plectrum on each finger!


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: GUEST,ST
Date: 19 Apr 18 - 01:34 PM

I'm only using silk band to patch cracks. My act runs for about 4 hours straight (ah, the little joys of busking!) and should the protection fail, I'd rather have it fail gradually. Silk makes all the plating come off at once.

Otherwise, a thin layer of acrylic glue is usually enough for my nails and playing style. Doesn't last as long as a professional coating but a vial of the stuff is easy to carry around, so it's always available. A serious advantage when you end up in a place where people speak a language you don't know.


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: GUEST,Jerry
Date: 19 Apr 18 - 05:31 PM

When I started out there were no acrylics, no falsies and no nail bars, apart from in the hardware stores, and if you had weak nails you had to eat lots of raw jelly cubes. The gelatine helped strengthen your nails, and the calcium from milk stopped them getting bruised. However, you could always be sure that you wold break a nail on a car boot or door, just before any important gig, so you just had to get to grips, literally, with thumb and finger picks. If you try using them everyday for about a week, you’ll find that you get used to them sufficiently to resort to them in an emergency. They certainly help with fast playing or needing to compete volume-wise if unamplified, and they are essential for bluegrass banjo playing, and some even use them for frailing when their nails are shot.


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 20 Apr 18 - 05:24 AM

If you go down to Spain - they have the whole thing sussed. You see the flamenco players relaxing in the sun after last nights gig, working on their nails, which all look like about quarter of an inch thick - and can really kick ass.


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 20 Apr 18 - 05:04 PM

Just one more thing, in reference to C-flat's post above ... my impression is that most salons specialise either in one or t'other.

My current nail tech doesn't do gels, and my previous tech didn't do acrylics, so you may have to find a different salon.

In any event, keep us posted.


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: C-flat
Date: 23 Apr 18 - 08:26 AM

Turns out I'm using acrylics anyway.
I've been in for "routine maintenance" and asked about the difference between gels and acrylics, to be told they ONLY do acrylics, so looks like I'm on the right path anyway.
Cheers all!


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 23 Apr 18 - 10:53 AM

Now I'm confused, C-flat.

If the nails are acrylic, there was no need for UV curing ????


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: C-flat
Date: 25 Apr 18 - 08:51 AM

You're right Murray, this only happened once, when I first got them done, they've never used the thing since. I can't say for sure it was a UV lamp or just some random gadget with a blue bulb in it, but it's not there now and they assured me they only do acrylics so I'm happy with that.
Maybe I got a junior trainee on my first visit who didn't know what she was doing, or perhaps it was a "let's bullshit the bloke" moment and charge him extra for a "blue bulb treatment".
There's a whole world of smoke and mirrors in the "beauty" industry.


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 25 Apr 18 - 01:16 PM

I watched the late John Renbourn gluing on plastic nails, in a friend's kitchen one evening. Good enough for him, it's good enough for anyone.


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 25 Apr 18 - 02:55 PM

Thing is, John, they might have been good enough for Renbourn back then, but he certainly changed to either acrylics or gel nails at some point in his latter years.

I had the honour to open for him in the last concert he played in Edinburgh, a few weeks before his untimely demise, and from my front row seat I could see that he was using either acrylics or gel nails... no glued-on ping-pong balls !


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: Bob Hitchcock
Date: 27 Apr 18 - 10:34 PM

I recently resumed playing classical guitar again after playing steel string and electric for some 46 years and my nails were not strong enough to play the more difficult pieces. I found this product called "Hard as Nails" in my local CVS pharmacy and it works great, just use it like nail polish and it dries to a hard shell.

Bob Hitchcock


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: BobKnight
Date: 28 Apr 18 - 11:14 PM

I remember Segovia being interviewed on TV in the 60's. The interviewer asked, "What makes a great guitarist?" and he replied, "great nails."


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: GUEST,rewster
Date: 29 Apr 18 - 06:21 AM

Another Segovia tale is that when teaching a student he told him the problem was with his nails. But I cut them this morning, said the student. Ah, but you didn't file them, said the master.


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 29 Apr 18 - 12:47 PM

Well Murray, I'm afraid this was only about 2 years before he died. Maybe it was a temporary measure.


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Subject: RE: Guitar nails
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 29 Apr 18 - 04:19 PM

TBH John, thinking back, it would have been more accurate for me to have said that "I didn't notice that he was wearing glued on nails". I suppose he might have been wearing glue-ons, but it just didn't register with me. Wish I had paid more attention, or even asked him.

Whatever, he was a most genuine and affable gent ... "avuncular" was how he struck me that night.


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