msarro
Registered User
Join date: Nov 2007
192 IQ
#1
Pretty simple question. I am still just a beginner, but I am having an issue where my nails will start to split after they get a few mm long. They tend to split right in front of the nail bed, going horizontally across the width of the nail. It starts as a small split, and then over the course of a day or two my nail is suddenly half-hanging off and I've got no choice but to remove it.

I know I have to start a nailcare regimen, but my wife isn't helpful because she keeps her nails very short. Losing my ability to finger pick really is hampering my learning every time I lose one.

So, do you guys keep some spare finger picks on hand in case of a nail emergency? Should I just practice using my fingertips (which sadly for me usually sounds like ass)? Any advice would be helpful.
fingrpikingood
Registered User
Join date: Sep 2009
87 IQ
#2
I keep my fingernails at a length that is almost even with my fingertips, maybe just poking out a bit beyond. I sometimes get issues with them, but usually that's from abuse. You might like a hybrid fingernail style like I use, idk. I'm not sure what you don't like about the tone. fingertips definitely soften the attack, but I find they still sound good.

It sounds to me, like your fingernails are a little bit fragile. maybe they are very thin. You can purchase a sort of nail hardener. It paints on like nail polish, and you can buy matte see through versions as well, which will not look like you are wearing any nail polish.

I had bought a few kinds, and found a good one. I forget what it was now, but now I find that my fingernails seem to be coping alright. they wear down a bit still, but maybe my technique is different, or they somehow got stronger? Idk.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Aug 28, 2014,
Tony Done
Registered User
Join date: Apr 2014
699 IQ
#3
I'm exclusively a fingerpicker, and my nails are weak and prone to splitting, worse as I get older. I just keep them very short - 1 to 2 mm. Others use acrylics or nail extensions. You can do temporary repairs with a very small amount of CA glue.
Captaincranky
Registered User
Join date: Sep 2011
288 IQ
#4
I rush right off to the beauty parlor, and let the cute little Vietnamese girl take care of it.

(Oh come on, somebody had to realize that would be coming)
fingrpikingood
Registered User
Join date: Sep 2009
87 IQ
#5
Quote by Captaincranky
I rush right off to the beauty parlor, and let the cute little Vietnamese girl take care of it.

(Oh come on, somebody had to realize that would be coming)


I'm not gonna lie, probably the biggest downside of being a pure fingerstyle player, is that I feel like such a woman about my nails too often.

Although cute vietnamese girls at the beauty parlour does sound like an idea that could make up for it.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Aug 28, 2014,
Tony Done
Registered User
Join date: Apr 2014
699 IQ
#6
Quote by fingrpikingood
I'm not gonna lie, probably the biggest downside of being a pure fingerstyle player, is that I feel like such a woman about my nails too often.

Although cute vietnamese girls at the beauty parlour does sound like an idea that could make up for it.


I carry around a tiny Swiss army knife on my keyring. It has scissors and file for doing running repairs, as I've found that a quick fix can often save major damage.
Garthman
Registered User
Join date: Dec 2013
32 IQ
#7
As has been mentioned, good grooming is key to preventing breaks - the little nicks caused by everyday use often lead to bigger breaks. I use almost-smooth emery boards (the ones my wife throws away) and polish the edge of the nails every day - more frequently if needed. I file to shape a couple of times a week and re-polish afterwards. Obviously wearing gloves when doing manual work makes sense too.

Like Tony Done, I fingerpick virtually always and I too keep the nails just a little longer than the fingertips - around 2mm for fingernails and 3-4mm for the thumbnail.

On the odd occasion that I do have a fingernail breakage I file it down to remove the damage, then file down the other nails to about the same length and (grudgingly) use my fingertips until they grow back. If I get a thumbnail break I use an Alaska pick - I fingerpick in the classical style and find that an Alaska pick (brass one that you can bend and file to shape) works fine - feels a bit strange at first but you soon get used to it. I've tried using them on fingernails but can't take to them.

http://www.alaskapik.com/
Bikewer
Registered User
Join date: Jan 2010
65 IQ
#8
This is why I'm a flatpicker as well...

Seriously, the other guy's advice is solid. You don't need to "grow out" your right-hand nails. Mine are hardly longer than the left....
They must be shaped and beveled properly, and kept up on an almost-daily basis with very fine-cutting diamond files or very (very!) fine sandpaper on a small block.
This is the way classical players maintain their nails, and it works for steel-string guitars as well.

What I've done recently is to go to a semi-hollow guitar set up with flatwound strings. I'm playing primarily fingerstyle jazz currently, and this setup is very easy on the nails as almost no effort is required when playing.
mpatton
Registered User
Join date: Jun 2010
300 IQ
#9
Are you playing nylon strings or steel? Steel strings will wear out your nails faster, but it's still doable.

Nails do not need to be long at all- they should barely be longer than your fingertip. Scott Tennant's book "Pumping Nylon" has a detailed section about nail shape.

Look into strings by mail for a nail care kit. I have one that has a glass file and a bunch of different grits of micro-mesh. It's basically sandpaper. File to shape, then start with the coarse grit and work your way up to the fine. It takes less than 5 minutes once you get used to it. By keeping your nails smooth, it's less likely they'll catch on anything. You can also buff out chips rather than having to peel it off.
msarro
Registered User
Join date: Nov 2007
192 IQ
#10
I am playing nylon.
My issue is I am an engineer, so I am very often working with my hands. I've always kept my nails extremely short. I'm willing to let my playing hand grow out slightly longer, and it hasn't been too much of a problem. However, I still occasionally get nails caught on things, or they get split.

I just started using a nail hardener, so hopefully that helps some to prevent it from happening again in the future. I just needed to know what stop-gaps people use when they do eventually chip or break (even shorter nails can do that). I'm not trying to grow talons, just nails long enough to play (2mm or so beyond the fingertip is what my teacher recommended). But given my line of work, there will be chips and breaks no matter how good the nail care because I do work with my hands a lot.

Over the weekend I picked up a few fingerpicks and a thumb pick, and thus far they seem to be working great.
mpatton
Registered User
Join date: Jun 2010
300 IQ
#11
I've never tried this myself, but I've heard of players who use fake nails for playing. That way, if you chip one it's easy to replace.

Also I have a friend who cut up a ping pong ball and glued that to his nail in an emergency once. He broke it right before a concert. Apparently it works...
Classy Lady
Registered User
Join date: Aug 2014
10 IQ
#12
The issue of fingernails is certainly valid. I am a Classical guitar player. This summer two of my nails (right hand) became very dry. That meant that the nails easily cracked. So I ordered a set of Ricco nails and modified two to fit the affected nails. I re- use them every day. The thickness of the Ricco nail is similar to a human nail and therefore sounds good. The nails come with a patch of adhesive, which is easily removed to remove the nail. Because fingernails grow out slowly, I will be using the Ricco nails for several months. The Ricco nails can be filed and shaped according to your playing preference.
Ann

_______________
Handmade classical guitar
Luthier Richard Young
Still Rivers Guitar, Eastford CT
Dreadnought
Oceanic Mountainman
Join date: Sep 2002
5,069 IQ
#13
When I broke a thumbnail before a recital, I put a fake nail on and shaped it properly. It was actually very strong and had better thickness than my own nail.
But we little know until tried how much of the uncontrollable there is in us, urging across glaciers and torrents, and up dangerous heights, let the judgment forbid as it may.