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Jean-Luc Pickguard

strengthen nails for acoustic guitar?

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Posted (edited)

Does anyone here have any experience of taking biotin suppliments or applying any kind of (clear) nail varnish/topcoat to strengthen their nails for fingerpicking guitar/ukulele?

I'm playing my acoustic tenor guitar quite a lot and I want to improve my right hand technique and tone so I'm going to grow my nails on my right hand.

Last time I grew them out for playing ukulele they split/cracked after just a few days so I think I will need to strengthen them this time.

Any advice on the best way to make the nails less prone to cracking/spliting?

Edited by Jean-Luc Pickguard
typo

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Cover them in epoxy resin - worked for jaco... 

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Posted (edited)

When I played in a folk rock band the guitarists ate bags of jelly babies. They said the gelatin was good for strengthening their nails.

Super glue is good for split nails, and I guess you could cover the whole nail with glue or varnish.

Edited by chris_b

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Probably not a help to you, but I'll just throw a few related bits into the discussion.

When I play ukulele, it's finger pickinging 50+% of the time. However I don't use the nail, but pick with the flesh. That works out OK and sounds good to my ears.

When I play acoustic guitar, I occasionally finger pick... again with the flesh. It can make my fingers sore, so I limit how much I do it. It's only for my own entertainment, or a turn or two in a folk circle, so that works OK.

The fingernail issue I do have is when I strum the steel-strung acoustic with fingernails... they gradually wear down /thin and I have to limit the time I do it.

 

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Posted (edited)

I don't eat meat, so jelly babies won't work for me. 🙁

the James Taylor video looks useful, particularly cleaning the nail with acetone and roughening it before adding anything.

My mail uke is a tenor tuned DGBE with baritone strings so playing with nails brightens the tone & helps getting some volume.

Edited by Jean-Luc Pickguard

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Posted (edited)

Go to a nail bar. They can build a thicker and harder casing on top of the original nail. I know an old-time banjo player who does this and it is very effective. Now they've got used to only having to do 2 of his fingers, it's all good.

Edited by pete.young

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My dad in law gets acrylic nails on his right hand for playing acoustic guitar. I use the boney bit of my finger tips to play. 

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I used to use paint on nail strengthener from high street pharmacy. Does the job just fine 

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Many of my guitar playing friends have acrylic nails which they get done at their local nail bar. Ive always used my own natural nails, but don’t actually have them too long (not as long as a classical guitarist anyway).

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Clive Carroll sticks slivers of ping pong balls under his nail tips, with superglue, if I remember rightly.

I don’t use nails any more, just finger tips.

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Check out Martin Simpson; he uses silk wraps. It’s about 23:20 he mentions it. 

 

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A friend of mine (classical player) fixes his nails with superglue and glass fibres. This mixture makes his nails really like plectras.

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Johnny Hiland goes to his Nailbar, imagine you could check out your nearest reopened ones for their heavier duty options.

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55 minutes ago, itu said:

A friend of mine (classical player) fixes his nails with superglue and glass fibres. This mixture makes his nails really like plectras.

Must admit I'm tempted to use Superglue, I grow my right hand nails to play acoustic and they then break the moment I start playing bass again. I wonder if there's any risks (although given Superglue was apparently developed for surgical purposes I'm guessing not, or at least low)?

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22 hours ago, Jean-Luc Pickguard said:

I don't eat meat, so jelly babies won't work for me. 🙁

My solution was spinach. I love the stuff anyway but I committed to a fistful of the stuff every day and it really helped with the speed and quality of nail growth. 

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11 hours ago, songofthewind said:

Clive Carroll sticks slivers of ping pong balls under his nail tips, with superglue, if I remember rightly.

I don’t use nails any more, just finger tips.

Gordon Giltrap uses the same

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I used to eat bone meal tablets, believing that they would strengthen my nails. Obviously no good for veggies. Vegetable sources of calcium are, soy bean products, broccoli, cabbage, cheese.

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Re nutrition, given the complex and very wide ranging roles of protein in the body, if you were so deficient that your nails were weak you’d have a whole lot of more serious problems to deal with, despite what the internet might say. Like bones, hair, teeth etc, density varies from person to person, so if you’re at the low end, you probably need more help than extra protein.

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50 minutes ago, Beedster said:

Re nutrition, given the complex and very wide ranging roles of protein in the body, if you were so deficient that your nails were weak you’d have a whole lot of more serious problems to deal with, despite what the internet might say. Like bones, hair, teeth etc, density varies from person to person, so if you’re at the low end, you probably need more help than extra protein.

After I left uni I didn't eat very well for several months. My fingernails all fell off, followed a few weeks later by my toenails.

No other apprent effects but I decided not to scrimp on food after that.

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2 hours ago, Stub Mandrel said:

After I left uni I didn't eat very well for several months. My fingernails all fell off, followed a few weeks later by my toenails.

No other apprent effects but I decided not to scrimp on food after that.

Sounds like a tendency towards poor nail health plus poor nutrition, most people's nails will survive poor nutrition

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2 hours ago, Beedster said:

Sounds like a tendency towards poor nail health plus poor nutrition, most people's nails will survive poor nutrition

I've never had any other nail issues. Apparently delaminatin of both finger and toenails without external cause can be a sign of iron deficiency, which would quite feasibly have been the issue.

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many years ago when I played classical guitar, I used clear nail varnish, and always had an emery board.

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When, as an old, bald, fat bloke, I enter the nail shop and ask them to do my long nails, nobody lifts an eyelid.
I think my high heels and summer gown do this.
Just a helpful hint.

  • Haha 1

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