fingernails?

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fingernails?

Postby WeirdOlAndrew » Thu Dec 07, 2006 11:19 pm

I've been asking this for about 40 years, every now and then, but I keep hoping.....anyone found a real good way to strengthen fingernails? (Its equipment, kinda, 'cause they're what I use to play)

It's been very dry out lately, and i've been working on the car, and most of mine are split. I've been smearing Krazy Glue on, with sorta mediocre results. I've tried various laquer or 'polish' type stuff, no help there, wears off almost instantly. Alreay taking calcium tabs and vitamin suppliments.

Don't wanna do finger picks....never could get used to the feel, and besides, ever be cooking along in a nice jam and catch one the wrong way and pop it down the soundhole? And then look real silly for the next half hour trying to get the thing out? It's enough to make a guy take up the flatpick and learn Country-n-Western.

I know some pros use acrylics like the wife's, only just on their picking fingers, but that gets to be real high-maintenence and weakens the nail bed underneath, so there's really no turning back.

anyone tried anything that WORKS...without nuisance side effects or undue maintenence?

Much appreciated.
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Postby allanlummox » Thu Dec 07, 2006 11:34 pm

I had acrylic nails for several years - worked VERY well. (they were thicker and squarer than those that women get for fashion). I was sent to a particular shop by a Flamenco guitarist.

Since then, I have switched to fingerpicks - not the usual ones I see in shops, but the extra-heavy Acri picks, which fit more comfortably and have more mass - great tone, and I can get some unusual effects.

As far as toughening your natural nails - I tried Gelatin, with no discernable difference.
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Postby ricochet » Fri Dec 08, 2006 12:46 am

Knox Gelatin has been marketed to strengthen nails, but I'm skeptical.

I use fingerpicks, for several reasons. I don't use Laska Piks, because I don't want to grow my nails out enough to hold them in place. They'd work right now; I really need to trim 'em!
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Postby badfinger » Fri Dec 08, 2006 10:09 am

It's a question that has exercised classic guitar players since nails became de rigeur (and the smaller sub-set of flamenco players), even though, using nylon strings, they have an easier time of it.

I have seen argument that, like many things, usage can make them grow thicker (I suppose someone scratching up roots and things for a living might develop a hornier set of appendages...) including the idea of drumming them gently on, say, a table top.

I've also met some who keep them dry - as in avoiding hand-washing. They usually die young from, eg, typhoid, and yearn for a good handshake from those that know them.

But, assuming that you are in optimal health, there is nothing you can eat or drink that will strengthen your nails beyond what nature gave you.

You can consume as much gelatine as you like (note: boiled cows feet, etc), or the crusts of your butties. and it will be to no avail - prosthetics or externally-applied concoctions is the only way to go, and the arguments on the latter are legion.

Acrylics work well, and are used by many. There are no "special guitar-players' nails" made commercially, and the range of nails available (weight, shape, material, etc) is so big that there is no need of such.

There are, however, "special guitar-players nail places" in some parts of the world. I don't know why; the only justification for such a specialism that comes to mind is that a "cosmetic" nail technician is generally not interested as much in the mechanical strength of the falsie as what it looks like, and has to be reminded of the purpose of them. I suppose that someone who has the strength-vs-looks requirement in mind could hang out a board advertising themselves as "specialist", and charge extra for the priviledge.

I sometimes do my own, especially if pushed for time, but it's better to have them done because you are working left-handed (or vice-versa) and it takes twice as long to do. And, anyway, the cost is typically less than a fiver per nail - and you get your hand held!
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Postby maxx england » Fri Dec 08, 2006 11:53 am

About gelatine, I have been a regular eater of blocks of raw fruit jelly since I broke my leg, and my nails are the best they've ever been. Perhaps this points to a previous dietary imbalance which has been corrected, I don't know, but it works for me. When I'm playing though I just use the leather nature gave me on my fingertips.
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Postby 1four5 » Fri Dec 08, 2006 12:55 pm

I'm a mechanic...and my nails are usually worthless. I shattered a fingernail on a wednesday, and had a party to play at on a friday...in despiration, I bent up some fingerpicks to put the tip against my fingernail...perfect, and I haven't used fingernails since.
http://www.notworthy.org/fingerpicks.jpg
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Postby badfinger » Fri Dec 08, 2006 1:07 pm

The idea that gelatine (or gelatin for non-Europeans) is good for nails arises from an advertising campaign started in the 1890s by a chap called Knox. Made from slaughterhouse waste (hair, hide and, particularly, hooves) his campaign was even more successful than Pykes carrots and night vision spoof. No scientifically controlled test or trial has proved anything other than the fallacy that gelatine is "good for" nails, hair or joints.

The idea was that cows hooves are tough, so eat them (or the protein traces therein) and your nails will also be tough.
In fact the traces and types of (non-essential) protein in gelatin is far smaller in amount than is produced normally in the human body.

One thing seldom addressed in places like this, is not what makes nails strong, but what might make nails weak.

Again, assuming a reasonable level of nutrition and health, the most common cause is damage (including dryness) caused by abusive exposure to things like detergents and solvents.

A good hand cream, or even the higher priced (but I suspect no different) nail creams, will help maintain moisture. But wear gloves when using stuff like white spirit, or even when washing dishes!

Interestingly, I have found that a nail badly split by accident seems to become in some way deformed in structure and to have a fault line in it along which it is prone to split thereafter.
This is the case with the two nails I have tips fitted to: first one, then the other, was broken by accident and seemed to become weaker and easily split in exactly the same place and manner as the original damage. However, they are no thinner than the ones that continue to operate in their naked and natural state.
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Postby Mississippi John » Fri Dec 08, 2006 4:08 pm

Since posting a similar request a few months ago I have taken the plunge and had acrylic nails applied. They worked very well, but were not as strong as I had hoped (one split immediately and needed to be repaired) - so heed the advice about strength. But they work absolutely brilliant!!

TIPS: There is no doubt they weaken the underbed of the nail, however, in my case, I think most of the damage was done by me when I removed them by force. If you maintain them properly and use gloves when doing dishes or using solvents, etc., you should be able to make them last 2-3 weeks. DON'T peal them off - maintain them as the nail grows in order to keep them on as long as possible. I also tried doing it myself and found that my job was not nearly as durable as Ursula's (my Beautician, ha, ha!). From now on I'll only do touch ups.


Lastly, you MUST baby your nails and go easy on them. They'll take more abuse than usual, but they still damage. I suggest trying it out.

BTW - up here Canada, some of the best finger-style players use acrylics, including Don Ross, Stephen Fearing and Bruce Cockburn. BUT, if you're only doin gthis for your resonaotr playing, then you would be better off with picks!
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Postby stumblin » Fri Dec 08, 2006 4:30 pm

Acrylics. They seldom break when you're playing, but it is possible to break them if you aren't careful during whatever time remains in the day.
You have to file them to shape before you start to play, otherwise you can get kind of hooked onto the string, but that's about the only downside I've found.
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Postby badfinger » Fri Dec 08, 2006 4:43 pm

"You have to file them to shape before you start to play"
Yep - I have to do that with natural nails too! :D

(Bloody hell - I used a smiley!)

From everything I've read (and asked) the false nails don't actually damage the natural nail bed; it's more that the natural nail, when re-exposed, is soft and moist from being wrapped up. After about two days, they become dry and as hard as before. (Assuming no infection from poor workmanship, and that no heavy filing of the surface has been done to them in the preparation for falsies - I had that once - yikes, talk about thin nails!)

Removal must only be by soaking in acetone, not filing.

UV gel systems are harder, but more brittle - also easier to DIY; but they have to be filed off which refers back to the above.

It's fun - have one painted silver! Have a glitter rhinestone set in! See the new ones that change colour in different light!

(And see the looks you get from the other customers - women - at the salon, when you take your place in the waiting area, soaking off your old falsies!)
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Postby stumblin » Fri Dec 08, 2006 5:22 pm

badfinger wrote:"You have to file them to shape before you start to play"
Yep - I have to do that with natural nails too! :D

(Bloody hell - I used a smiley!)

I mentioned filing merely to emphasise the importance of shaping one's rock-hard acrylic nails so as to avoid embarrassing playing mishaps. They are less forgiving in some respects than are natural nails.

At the risk of repeating myself (this topic does keep recurring), I'd just like to say (for the benefit of anyone who hasn't heard this already. If you know what I'm about to say, go to another page) that sitting in a room full of glamorous young ladies and being invited to participate in their wide-ranging and entertaining conversations is a major benefit in the nail-care process.
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Postby ricochet » Fri Dec 08, 2006 6:45 pm

:o bf used a smiley! :shock:
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Postby badfinger » Fri Dec 08, 2006 6:46 pm

Yep - in my case, I have my hand held by Marta, who murmurs softly in her Hungarian accent while rubbing cuticle oil into my fingers....

As for recurring posts... Well, 'nuff said, but what strings do you use on which is the best guitar for singing with my what amplifier and is the pickup what about a reso and should i poslish the damn thing!

Maybe it would be unfair to suggest a search of the board, cos I don't know what has been transferred over to this new thing (apart from the ubiquitous zombi in the blue mist).
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Postby ricochet » Fri Dec 08, 2006 6:50 pm

An awful lot of archived material got lost. But there were also long-dead threads that arose to roam the Earth.
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Postby allanlummox » Fri Dec 08, 2006 9:27 pm

The place I went to in Berkeley was staffed by a group of smiley young Asian women, chatting and gossiping without me understanding a word.

But they knew exactly what "Guitar Player" meant, and offered 2 types of tips for that - a square one and a more rounded.
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