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Fingernail Getting Damaged

PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2005 6:35 pm
by cheyenne
I've posted a lot this morning! *hides in corner*

I have another small problem that I know there will be an answer to out there.

I play electric with bare fingers, nails of picking hand kind of longish.
When i do a muted chugging kind of strum, which happens in many songs, I use my index fingernail to acheive the brightness of a flatpick. It's worked for ..gosh.. 5 years now or so, and still does, BUT i'm noticing it's wearing away at the nail and thinning the corner edge out and when it's a bit long, I can feel that the nail itself in the heavy wear zone is thinner than the equivalent zone on say my middle finger.
Thus it gets torn more easily.

What I want to know, is there a fix for this in terms of some kind of nail varnish?
I remember hearing many tip and hinst on nail protection for people like flamenco players but there's two ideas that I have.

1: Get nail polish, probably the clear one unless i'm feeling silly lol, and apply, dry, re-apply, dry, re-apply etc... Just keep doing it many times of maybe a week or so until theres a nice thick protective layer of dried varnish. This then, theoretically anyway should hold up to being bashed against the guitar strings and stop my nail from getting too worn.

Questions: Will this work? Or wil lthe varnish just crumble and get messy? And is such a large amount in layeres of varnish semi-toxic to your body?

2nd idea: I have seen a girl play with long finger nails, on an acoustic and when interviewed she mentioned something about going to a nail-salon and getting hardcore nail-work done, POSSIBLY actually getting strong plastic fake nails glued on over her current ones. Is this possible? Get an inconspicuous fake nail glued real firmly to your main nail underneath like a protective plastic shell?

Thanks for anyone who has any ideas or first-hand knowledge.

RE: Fingernail Getting Damaged

PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2005 6:38 pm
by allanlummox
I used to get acrylic nails put on at a Salon.

I think Grady is using a product on his nails these days that he's happy with.

RE: Fingernail Getting Damaged

PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2005 7:12 pm
by badfinger
UK Fest...
Saturday afternoon; broke a nail; quick trip (well, miles actually) to shops; got some false tips, acrylic, powder aned liquid.

Built a new nail in hotel room - not perfect, cos working left-handed, but super-tough nail. Day saved.

The best "protector" around is Sally Hansen "Teflon Tuff", but nothing beats the acrylics, and once a month you get your hand held by a pretty (maybe) nail technician!

RE: Fingernail Getting Damaged

PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2005 7:49 pm
by houndog
a "back in the day" as BluesMagoo says I was playing 4 to 5 hour gigs and my 1st finger nail was worn off at an angle and I had picking finger callouses so thick I couldn't feel the ends of my fingers.

Plenty vitamins and keep your hands dry, I used to file so as to preserve the nail grain but Badfingg pointed out that cutting works just as well.

After playing 5 gigs in a two day Blues Fest two years ago I now use Dunlop pix.


RE: Fingernail Getting Damaged

PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2005 7:49 pm
by stumblin
BF's absolutely right. Spend a few quid and sit holding hands with a cute young chick as she strengthens your nails. It's become one of my favourite hobbies :)
For the last year or so, I've been getting my picking fingers silk-wrapped, which made them very strong. They start to chip after a while though, and sometimes break during vigorous play, but nowhere near as often as bare nails.
Last week though, I talked to my favourite manicurist and she suggested acrylics. They are pretty damn strong. Played a gig on Wednesday night, and didn't incur any damage whatsoever. Considering that we were playing with no amplification at all, this is a very impressive, er, statistic.

RE: Fingernail Getting Damaged

PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2005 7:51 pm
by stumblin
I should say that I try to use a mixture of fingertips and nails. The nails are really there to provide a bit of "brightness" to the sound. But I'd be sunk without my thumbnail.

RE: Fingernail Getting Damaged

PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2005 7:57 pm
by grady
My Index Finger nail wears the same exact way.

At first I had fears of just wearing it down to the point where
there would be nothing left.
But,,I now see thats not gonna happen.

Nobody ever heeds my advice along this subject but,,I'll tell you what I use,,,,,,Nail Envy by OPI.

Don't know what it is ???

Ask the first woman you see and she'll know right off exactly what you're talking about.

Get yourself a bottle and you'll have "Nails of Steel"

RE: Fingernail Getting Damaged

PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 1:01 am
by badfinger
"Nail Envy by OPI..."

Grady doesn't say which "Nail Envy" he uses (there is a range of 5 different products under the 'Nail Envy' label).

I've read many endorsements of this/these. But...

The PR splurge says (inter alia) that it "Fortifies soft, thin nails with extra calcium and sea minerals..."

Any coating will give some degree of mechanical protection to the nails, but as to "fortifying" by somehow improving the nail bed... As the nail bed is composed of dead tisue, I view such promises in the same light as the "active lipizomes" etc offered in women's face creams. (Or is it walrus grease and crushed tea-leaves, this month?)

Anyway, "Nail Envy" doesn't work for me; in fact it seemed to exacerbate the 'peeling' and chipping I suffer from with the one particular nail. I did a search around the internet and found other such reports, including more than a few suggesting that 'Nail Envy' had actually caused peeling and chipping. I guess that, as with anything, adverse effects, if any, will vary as will the body chemistry of the individuals concerned... But "Fortifies with extra calcium and sea minerals?")

"Teflon Tuf" (and other, similar products - I'm sure there are plenty of them) offers no promise of 'improving' the nails but will put a hard, smooth and tough coating on the end of the nail, which is where I use it. As to the condition of the nails - think "hair", and look to diet and general health.

Whatever - try some acrylics, and you'll never look back. (Silk wraps are not as tough, neither are the more recent u.v.-cured gel systems.)

A bit of info for anyone not familiar with this technique...

For length, acrylic tips are glued to the nails before sculpting with an acrylic compound.
If strength alone is the requirement, the acrylic 'sculpting' (a fancy name for plastering) applied directly to the natural is often sufficient.

I generally only do one nail (the one that has the peeling and chipping problem) and sometimes do it myself - it doesn't save much in time (it takes me twice as long to do as the salon girl) or money (typical salon cost is £4 per nail) but it's handy to be able to do it yourself.

'Dawg: the point about scissors I made was that the accepted practise among classic guitarists is filing (ideally with diamond files) and polishing (with, eg, 'crocus' paper) is the norm; this is for shaping and texture. But because filing separates the nail fibres (whatever the filing technique or file type) the nails should be cut at regular intervals with good, sharp scissors.

RE: Fingernail Getting Damaged

PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 7:54 am
by houndog
the bit about filing is that it didn't leave any minute snags which would them lead to nails tears after picking.

So a cut and then a little buff to stop snags would seem to be the way forward.


RE: Fingernail Getting Damaged

PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 9:58 am
by cheyenne
Hey thanks guys!

That's more info than I expected, but i'm an information gobbler so it's good.
I think i'll try out some acrylics sometime, get one put on my index finger that cop all the abuse. *poor thing* hehe

I don't mind getting pampered by a cute girl either. I used to get a haircut done, a special sort in a city I lived in once and it was getting razor cut all over and spiked etc.. so it took a while and they loved it that a guy was taking pride in appearance etc.. and it always was actually fun talking to the nice people that worked there and getting compliments etc.. Half of it is just the way they speak to you, as a customer, can be very nice I know but hey, whatever makes you feel good.

And for the record no i'm not a gay or bisexual man, lol, I'm just open minded when it comes to fashion and such things. (plus used to be one of those colourful rave-going techno kiddies so anything goes in that type of scene.)

Acrylics sound good. Thanks for the tips.

RE: Fingernail Getting Damaged

PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 11:11 am
by badfinger
[updated:LAST EDITED ON Mar-14-05 AT 07:06 AM (EST)]'Dawg...

"a cut and then a little buff"
Yip! Always polish!

More bits of important info about acrylics:

- Remove them only by soaking in acetone; NEVER pick or pull them off!

- If you remove falsies (tips and acrylic filler, or just sculpted filler) the natural nail bed is left very soft and will tear easily. It hardens up over two or three days, but expect it to be vulnerable for about a week.

The vulnerability mentioned above is not caused directly by the acrylic overlay, but simply by the nail being sealed from the air and thus kept relatively moist. It can also be exacerbated by over-zealous use of emery buffs by a clumsy nail technician when preparing the nail surface to accept the overlay, resulting in a thin nail.

The only real hazard is that of a fungus infection around the nail bed; the risk of this is extremely small if your nails are healthy to begin with, and pretty well insignificant, provided that the nail technician/salon observes good hygiene and technique (eg, no air bubbles twixt nail and overlay or added tip). If any discolouration occurs with an enhanced nail, it should be removed as soon as possible.

RE: Fingernail Getting Damaged

PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 7:27 pm
by grady
I've heard Nightmares about people losing Fingernails after using Acrylics.

That's enough to keep me from trying them.

I don't have time for a Nail to grow back.

RE: Fingernail Getting Damaged

PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 8:28 pm
by badfinger
"I've heard Nightmares about people losing Fingernails"

So did I, and avoided them like the plague.

But gradually I found that the "nightmares" tended generally to be cases of "Someone whose sister once knew a woman who went out with a chap whose cousin worked with...etc."

I found very few first-hand (or first nail?) reports, and they were almost all either,

a. - cases of poor hygiene, technique or the use of false nails on damaged or unhealthy natural nails, or

b. - cases dating from when acrylics were a new thing and some cheapo outfits were using a substance called Methyl Methacrylate (MMA). The correct liquid used for nails contains Ethyl Methacrylate (EMA).

The damaging liquid, MMA, was very cheap compared with EMA-based liquid, and can cause adverse skin reactions and permanent nail deformities. (And bugger your lungs up in the bargain.)

Also, EMA, although strong, is not too much tougher than the natural nail and will break. MMA, on the other hand, creates extensions which are far too rigid for the natural nail plate; it resists breaking if accidentally caught or jammed, resulting in the possible breaking of the nail plate itself near the cuticle.*

(MMA is used in the dental industry to make crowns and veneers for your teeth!)

No recognised propriety product, nor respectable nail salon, uses MMA based liquids. (In fact, it would be true to say that you would find it almost impossible to find any MMA being sold for the purpose of nail extension or sculpting.)

*It was the possible "super-tough" aspect that bothered me: most times, if I actually break a nail, it is in my work, in a clumsy move with a lathe chuck key, for example, and I was mindful of the fact that the breaking was a safety factor - preferable to actually tearing the nail from the fingertip.

PS: Hormonal changes during pregnancy often result in stronger nails, so...

RE: Fingernail Getting Damaged

PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 8:50 pm
by rustyslide
>PS: Hormonal changes during pregnancy often result in
>stronger nails, so...

I best do my damnedest not to get pregnant then!

RE: Fingernail Getting Damaged

PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 10:59 pm
by stumblin
I probably better not say what I was just about to say ;)