Fingernail Problems and possible solutions

I have recently posted about my ongoing frustrations with weak and deteriorating fingernails. I have tried many versions of fake nails, both glue on and adhesive based. The glue on seem to further deteriorate my nails over time and the adhesive technique would frequently come off, sometimes after only minutes. There were times that I would go thru 3-4 nails without being able to play thru a single piece.

I use Biotin daily, administer nail health products and use nail hardener.  I have tried nailless for several months. I never felt comfortable not using nails, nor cared for the limited tonal palette, However, it sure was nice not being concerned about my nails.

I am currently trying to use my nails very short - the 'm' and 'a' nails don't even extend above the flesh. It works somewhat but it requires being really precise with finger placement and it is difficult to get much volume or decent tone control.

If anyone has any comments or suggestions I would love to hear them.

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    • David
    • David.39
    • 3 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    I'm also struggling with nails. In the meantime, I followed up on other videos produced by on of ToneBase鈥檚 guest instructors, Brandon Acker, and found the following videos helpful: https://youtu.be/n_vpPI81DJw?si=JOO95O7eGPaMHK7-

    and

    https://youtu.be/c6bydB5mc3Q?si=I_RIeB39xxCXD3Nl

    I hope we get some good suggestions here in response to your inquiry, because I would like to enjoy playing with nails for more timbral variety.

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    • Debbie
    • Debbie
    • 3 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    My solution, Jack, has been to learn to play without nails, ala my teacher, Virginia Luque. It takes some getting used to but in the end it鈥檚 so rewarding! 

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  • My nails are horrible because of a drug I鈥檓 taking. I purchased the nails from guitarplayernails.com. I get the nails with a thin bottom. I file the bottoms to fit right into my cuticle. I use super glue. I then cut and trim the tops. My a finger lasts forever since I don鈥檛 use it for much else. I get about two weeks for i and m unless I鈥檓 doing gardening or something else that pulls off a nail. As your natural nail grows there will be a space between the cuticle and the nail. Makes flamenco difficult. It will deteriorate the nail from time to time. Take a little vacation periodically to cut that.

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    • Peter
    • Peter.11
    • 3 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    I have used the GPN nails with glue dots, and they last all day as long as I don鈥檛 get them wet.  And I really push them aggressively for long periods.  The 2 keys that work  for me are (1) swab your natural nail and the acrylic nail with isopropyl alcohol prior to applying - be  careful to assure those surfaces do not get touched by your bare fingers; and (2) use 1/2鈥 Gorilla glue dots.  For the thumb, I have used 1 and 1/2 dots to cover the entire surface.  Maintain pressure for at least 30 seconds for good adherence.

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    • Peter 

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    • Jeffrey Sieth alcohol will dry your nails out and that's not good. Just wash them with soap and water. 

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    • Steve Pederson
    • The Journey is My Destination!
    • Steve_Pederson
    • 3 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    I used to bite my nails as a kid, so when I first started playing classical guitar I couldn't grow my nails out. I had to glue fake nails to the tips of my fingers UNDERNEATH what little nail was there in order for the nail grow over the fake nail - in order to have something to support it. 

    Fortunately those days are long gone! I've always had problems with my nails, though, until just a couple of years ago. Here is what has worked for me...

    First, I stopped using any kind of fake nail or nail strengthener. NONE of them did me any good. Any type of artificial anything on my nail only hurt it. It took me MONTHS, but I just had to leave my nails alone and let them heal. 

    I also began to rub cuticle oil into my nails EVERY night before bed. Cuticle oil has natural ingredients that support skin and nail health. I kid you not, I have not missed a single night in the last couple of years, and my nails are way stronger than they ever used to be. I also apply hand lotion to my hands after putting on the cuticle oil. 

    Why right before bed? Two reasons. One, my hands rest when I'm sleeping. The cuticle oil has time to stay on and work. During the day I wash my hands constantly, which obviously washes away any lotion. Two, your body heals itself when you are sleeping, and stimulating your finger tips activates more healing energy in that area. 

    So, that would be my recommendation. Don't use ANY kind of artificial nail, glue, adhesives or "strengtheners". The hardest part is just letting your nails heal. It will take months, and that sucks, but as Debbie mentioned, you can take that time to learn to play without nails.

    Use cuticle oil and rub it in quite aggressively. Good luck!  

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    • Steve Pederson Good suggestion. I'll try to follow up on this. I'll see what's available locally.

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    • Phil
    • Phil
    • 3 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    I have used Knox for Nails and it works (for me at least) to strengthen nails as they grow. You can get it by the box on the internet and I have it at my local Acme grocery store. Use a packet a day and in a few weeks you will see results hopefully.  The nails strengthened by the Knox formula will eventually grow out and be replaced by your original weak nails if you stop taking it so don't stop taking it. - I use Sally Hansen's  "Hard as Nails" on my right hand nails - usually 3 coats - let dry completely in between coats. YMMV - good luck!

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    • Stefano
    • Stefano.2
    • 3 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    For the same reasons mentioned (weak and hooked nails) I have been using reconstructed nails, first in gel and now even better in acrygel, for a few years with much satisfaction. I go to a nail salon once a month and am pleasantly entertained by the ladies there, who are very intrigued by a man having his nails rebuilt....馃榿

    Like 1
      • Phil
      • Phil
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Stefano yes! I forgot to mention this in my previous post - I have been to a nail salon to repair a broken of cracked nail a few times in the past. But be warned that as the nail continues to grow the repaired part also grows out. And, if you try and remove any type of acrylic type treatment or application there is a very good chance that the top few layers of your natural nail may also be removed - bad! You have to start over and grow them back.

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      • Stefano
      • Stefano.2
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Phil For the time being and as long as I continue to play classical guitar, I have no intention of removing the acrygel (not acrylic!) nail on the 4 fingers of my right hand. When I have to stop playing, as you write, I will wait in case the natural nails grow back properly, but for now I am enjoying these magnificent 4 acrygel nails-I have struggled for a long time with added nails, double-sided tape and glue, and now it is a whole new life!

      Like 1
  • I am using ibd brush-on mail glue only on the tips of the nail and then dip in acrylic powder YN (Young nails) nail powder. 

    This protects from chipping and cracking. Eventually you won't need to use anything at all. My IMA nails are all natural now. I'm still using the glue on P nail tip.

    Like 1
  • I take biotin, 10,000 mcg daily. Also helps to get a double top guitar-the increased responsiveness put less stress on the nails. Also, wear gloves on the right hand when doing sports, swimming, gardening, woodworking, car repair, etc. I also put a small amount of Stew-Mac brush-on cyanoacrylate on the corners of my nails, where they are most vulnerable to damage while playing (use scissors to cut the brush length for more precise application).

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  • I keep my nails well moisturized - Healthy Hoof cream has worked the best for me. And I do take Biotin

    Last fall I started making my own yogurt (in my Instant Pot - so easy - just 1/2 gallon of milk and a small container of Chobani Greek Yogurt as starter!) and enjoy some daily.  Since then my nails have started growing very fast and strong. 

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    • Avron
    • Avron
    • 3 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Hi Jack,

     

    Some time ago I began using the nail shaping method advocated by Tomas Viloteau and Stephen Kenyon.  I had excellent and very interesting results, with the really surprising and wonderful change being the effect that the method has had on my injured 鈥渁鈥 nail. I lost the nail as a kid and it grew back with a bad ridge and hook on the right hand side of the nail.  It also grew back in a way that was laminated: it has a top layer that peels away from the bottom layer if I bang the nail, leaving the remaining nail quite thin and almost impossible to use effectively. Even when it is whole, filing the nail in order to get good tone from it had always been a trial, always hit and miss. The tone I am now able to produce with my a finger is equally as good as the tone of my other nails.

     

    It is also the case that the shape of my nails changed from fairly, but not extremely, ramped to a shape that is much flatter. The nail on my 鈥渋鈥 finger has a modest ramp, more of a slant with no curve, simply a straight line; the nail on my 鈥渕鈥 finger has an even more modest ramp and is almost flat; the nail on my 鈥渁鈥 finger is simply flat. What is most interesting, however, is that my nails glide through the strings of my guitar with incredible ease and, despite their being quite flat and straight-lined, I can produce more volume than I did prior to trying the method.

     

    So it is the combination of the repair to the nail 鈥 it has not broken even once in over two years now 鈥 and the increased dynamic range.   Here are the links, if you鈥檙e interested:

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcU6ozYT61o&t=1s

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhJ5GemPcgg&t=2s

     

    I hope that the method helps!

     

    Best,

    Avron

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    • Ernest
    • Ernest
    • 3 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Hello Jack
    A lot of good suggestions posted here; after 40+ years of playing classical guitar, I've tried all of them with varying degrees of success. My nails are now in great shape and rarely break but, on the rare occasion that one does and I have to resort to a fake nail, I first apply "silk wrap" to the nail before gluing on the fake. This prevents any damage to the nail from the CA glue when the fake is removed.
    I also take biotin, which seems to have finally worked. Keep in mind that biotin is one of the B vitamin complex so make sure that your diet includes foods with a high B vitamin content as they work synergistically. To ensure good absorption of nutrients take enzymes, betaine HCl, and ingest cultured/fermented food regularly, especially kefir. 
    One of the suggestions above was to use gelatin, sold as "Knox for Nails".  Because gelatin is so high in a single amino acid i.e. glycine, regular and prolonged use can have a detrimental effect on a person's health, so this is to be avoided.

    Finally, I recommend adding rasgueado to your daily practice. Many years ago I learned a tremolo/rasgueado technique from Stepan Rak (who uses it extensively) and it has benefited not only my nails but also finger dexterity.

    As your nails grow only about 3mm per month, patience is important while waiting for improvement.

    Cheers

    Ernest

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  • Yes, many fine tips and good advice here. My nails are ok but fragile, for practicing ff passages I must protect them with flexible tape. For a complete overview of dos and don鈥檛s I also like this site: 

    http://www.classicalguitarstore.com/fingernails/

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