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#1
Old 06-14-2012, 10:05 AM
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How can I strengthen my nails for guitar?

I am teaching myself Flamenco and my nails are taking a beating, how can I strengthen them to stand up to Flamenco playing? I really don't like the idea of nail polish, I just don't think it's a good idea to seal up a nail like that, there must be other ways to get seriously strong nails. Suggestions?
#2
Old 06-14-2012, 12:08 PM
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Head over to the Acoustic Guitar Forum and search on "fingernails" - that message board is mainly for steel strings, but the fingernail advice is useful for all types...

http://acousticguitarforum.com/f...splay.php?f=24

To my knowledge, folks try a variety of different methods - acrylic tips, polish, just taking extra care, etc. You have to decide what works for you. I use my fingertips without nails when I pluck some strings on my guitars, but don't play enough for it to lead to wear issues...
#3
Old 06-14-2012, 12:11 PM
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I am prone to weird skin infections in my fingers and fingernails so I take Biotin-a dietary supplement that is supposed to be good for stronger fingernails. I've been taking it for about 4 years now and I do notice my fingernails are stronger than they used to be.
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#4
Old 06-14-2012, 12:27 PM
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My friends who have babies tell me the pre-natal vitamins are really good for hair and nail growth. I don't know how quick it is, but you might start on them now and see what your nails are like in 6 months.
#5
Old 06-14-2012, 12:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Devil's Grandmother View Post
My friends who have babies tell me the pre-natal vitamins are really good for hair and nail growth. I don't know how quick it is, but you might start on them now and see what your nails are like in 6 months.
Yup. I'm not sure which element of the vitamins do it. Regular vitamins may work equally well. I'm currently taking pre-natals and I have to clip my nails when they get too long, about every two weeks or so.
#6
Old 06-14-2012, 12:48 PM
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I'll vouch for biotin as well. I took one or two every damn day at first and wowza did it make a difference! Now I take a few a week, as sort of a maintenance dosage.
Good: nails don't split
Bad: gotta shave more often

It seems to affect ALL keratin-based things: hair, nail, and skin.
#7
Old 06-14-2012, 01:45 PM
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Biotin's probably cheap and easy to find, but if it's not, see if you can find gelatin capsules at the dollar store. I tried those once and holy CRAP did they work!! And I have the worst nails in the world.
#8
Old 06-14-2012, 02:06 PM
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Some advocate avoiding soaking them in water as much as possible, so wearing rubber gloves when you wash dishes etc.
#9
Old 06-14-2012, 02:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zombywoof View Post
Some advocate avoiding soaking them in water as much as possible, so wearing rubber gloves when you wash dishes etc.
This sounds weird, but...I've been trying to figure out why my nails are suddenly SO strong, stronger than they have ever been. I figured it was because I changed my multivitamin to a liquid capsule form; pill form always made me barf, so I'd skip it half the time. But I see that the vitamin only has 10% RDD of biotin, so if that's it, it can't be helping that much.

Anyway, I just remembered something because of your post: about 3 weeks ago I started using the Dawn with Olay dishwashing liquid, after visiting my mom and noticing that she used it and my hands actually DID feel nice after dishes.

So...maybe it's good for nails, too!! (Kinda doubt it, but it's a thought)

Last edited by Taomist; 06-14-2012 at 02:10 PM.
#10
Old 06-14-2012, 04:01 PM
Creature of the Night
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
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There are products that claim to strengthen nails, yet aren't nail polishes. And yep, they're in the nail care section.

There are also products that strengthen hooves, which you buy at feed stores. You don't have to turn in your man card if you shop at feed stores, in fact, you get your man card stamped each time you go, even if you just go in the spring to look at the cute little bunnies and chicks and ducklings. I stay OUT of the feed stores during that season, because I always want to buy a dozen of each. Never mind that I have no idea of how to care for them, they are all so adorable. And fuzzy.
#11
Old 06-14-2012, 11:00 PM
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I've noticed a remarkable difference in my nails since I started adding flax seed oil (2 teaspoons) daily to my diet. It's good for your cholesterol and heart health as well.
#12
Old 06-15-2012, 05:57 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions.

I went out and got some biotin, but it's such a small little tablet, will it really do anything?

Also got some Sally Hanson hydrating nail wonder something, my playing nails looked better immediately after using it. The girl there recommended a nail hardener, but I just don't like the one line on the package that goes "use wonder xyz for strong nails, but remove it in 3 days OR ELSE!!!!" So I went with the hydrater strengthener goop.

And as for my man card, in the nail care isle, well I'm sure my beautiful rasgueado's will more than make up for it.
#13
Old 06-15-2012, 07:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crab007 View Post
And as for my man card, in the nail care isle, well I'm sure my beautiful rasgueado's will more than make up for it.
Indeed. Best of luck.
#14
Old 06-15-2012, 01:28 PM
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Classical guitar player here. I'm fortunate to have strong nails so I've never used any of the food supplements or brush on stuff.

Keep the nails filed smooth so they don't catch on things. Over the years it has become natural for me to do things like flipping light switches and pulling zippers with a knuckle or side of finger rather than sticking out that important "i" nail.
#15
Old 06-15-2012, 02:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by purplehorseshoe View Post
I'll vouch for biotin as well. I took one or two every damn day at first and wowza did it make a difference! Now I take a few a week, as sort of a maintenance dosage.
Good: nails don't split
Bad: gotta shave more often

It seems to affect ALL keratin-based things: hair, nail, and skin.
What does it do to the skin?

My nails used to be fabulous, but they're getting softer, mostly on one hand. I've got one that I have to keep short because it bends painfully all the time.
#16
Old 06-15-2012, 03:03 PM
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I'll vouch for the biotin, too. Chlorinated pool water was destroying my nails, now they're good. Hair may be more glossy, or that may just be the chlorine buildup. Haven't noticed any effect on beard or skin.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Bodoni View Post
There are also products that strengthen hooves, which you buy at feed stores. You don't have to turn in your man card if you shop at feed stores, in fact, you get your man card stamped each time you go, even if you just go in the spring to look at the cute little bunnies and chicks and ducklings. I stay OUT of the feed stores during that season, because I always want to buy a dozen of each. Never mind that I have no idea of how to care for them, they are all so adorable. And fuzzy.
I have to say, that hoof stuff does even better than the biotin. Back when I was a young lad, spending 4-6+ hours in the pool each day, I don't think I'd've had any nails without that stuff. And my flowing mane looked fabulous (and it needed to: it was the 80s).

May be more expensive than biotin, though (been a while since I bought it).
#17
Old 06-15-2012, 05:04 PM
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Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Posts: 20,803
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crab007 View Post
Thanks for the suggestions.

I went out and got some biotin, but it's such a small little tablet, will it really do anything?

Also got some Sally Hanson hydrating nail wonder something, my playing nails looked better immediately after using it. The girl there recommended a nail hardener, but I just don't like the one line on the package that goes "use wonder xyz for strong nails, but remove it in 3 days OR ELSE!!!!" So I went with the hydrater strengthener goop.

And as for my man card, in the nail care isle, well I'm sure my beautiful rasgueado's will more than make up for it.
If I guessed your sex wrong, then I apologize.
#18
Old 06-17-2012, 08:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WordMan View Post
Head over to the Acoustic Guitar Forum and search on "fingernails" - that message board is mainly for steel strings, but the fingernail advice is useful for all types...

http://acousticguitarforum.com/f...splay.php?f=24

To my knowledge, folks try a variety of different methods - acrylic tips, polish, just taking extra care, etc. You have to decide what works for you. I use my fingertips without nails when I pluck some strings on my guitars, but don't play enough for it to lead to wear issues...
Thanks for that link.

I've posted the same question there; in case anyone might be interested to see what they say: http://acousticguitarforum.com/f...19#post3077619
#19
Old 06-18-2012, 01:06 AM
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Why don't you buy some finger picks, the look like rings that attach to your first knuckle and go over your nails. Any music shop should have them, but I find that the guitar sounds better when you focus on using the pads of the finger unless you are reverse burst stroking the strings
#20
Old 06-19-2012, 10:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irish ArcAngel View Post
Why don't you buy some finger picks, the look like rings that attach to your first knuckle and go over your nails. Any music shop should have them, but I find that the guitar sounds better when you focus on using the pads of the finger unless you are reverse burst stroking the strings
Arcangel, that was a brilliant suggestion, I completely forgot I had those and didn't think to use them for Flamenco (probably because I haven't seen it done like that), I put on the thumb pick and ka-blammo, I could attack the strings as hard as I wanted for over an hour.

BUT

Is it still Flamenco if you use fingerpicks? Is one disqualified from "flamenco player" to "some guy wailing on his guitar with fingerpicks-look-at-that-hahaha" if you're not using fingertips?

Either way, now it's really sounding right, and I still have a usable thumb-nail so thanks
#21
Old 06-19-2012, 11:44 AM
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No, it is NOT Flamenco.

You do NOT have to care about that at all if what you are doing works for you. I would also assume that using fingerpicks on a nylon-stringed guitar would not really be all that great - nylon strings are valued because of the incredible dynamics available as you use your nails, fingertip flesh, and combos of both to sound notes. Having fingerpicks eliminates that - they are big and loud for steel string use, which is great - but that is a very different thing.

But that is a non-issue for you with regards to fingers. As for a thumb pick, again, not Flamenco and you would lose some dynamics, but do what works.

So that is a way of saying: do whatever keeps you playing. If you decide you are committed to learning a formal style and/or sticking with nylon strings, then you may need to move past use of a thumbpick but that is your call...
#22
Old 06-19-2012, 11:51 AM
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It seems to me that you are not interested in adding anything artificial to your nails, but you might find what James Taylor does interesting. He has a few guitar lesson videos on his site. Click on the one called "Nails 101". He does his own!
#23
Old 06-19-2012, 02:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WordMan View Post
No, it is NOT Flamenco.

You do NOT have to care about that at all if what you are doing works for you. I would also assume that using fingerpicks on a nylon-stringed guitar would not really be all that great - nylon strings are valued because of the incredible dynamics available as you use your nails, fingertip flesh, and combos of both to sound notes. Having fingerpicks eliminates that - they are big and loud for steel string use, which is great - but that is a very different thing.

But that is a non-issue for you with regards to fingers. As for a thumb pick, again, not Flamenco and you would lose some dynamics, but do what works.

So that is a way of saying: do whatever keeps you playing. If you decide you are committed to learning a formal style and/or sticking with nylon strings, then you may need to move past use of a thumbpick but that is your call...
Thanks Wordman, as I'm reading your post, I'm reminded of this : http://youtube.com/watch?v=7DR3O...5&feature=plcp. That's basically what I'm doing now, a sort of hybrid fingertip,flat-pick sort of thing, and as you've said it's not technically Flamenco, but it's where I am now. I suppose I'm just following what sounds right.
#24
Old 06-19-2012, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crotalus View Post
It seems to me that you are not interested in adding anything artificial to your nails, but you might find what James Taylor does interesting. He has a few guitar lesson videos on his site. Click on the one called "Nails 101". He does his own!
You're absolutely right about that. Thanks for the link I'm looking through it now.



I might as well add a link to my all-time fav guitarrista, Greg Johnson:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=pHFV-BgeQh4&feature=plcp
#25
Old 06-20-2012, 12:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crab007 View Post
I am teaching myself Flamenco and my nails are taking a beating, how can I strengthen them to stand up to Flamenco playing? I really don't like the idea of nail polish, I just don't think it's a good idea to seal up a nail like that, there must be other ways to get seriously strong nails. Suggestions?
Zinc. Gelatin.
#26
Old 06-20-2012, 01:26 PM
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I don't know if this would work for you, but I always notice that my nails get much stronger when I'm doing a lot of typing. The nails have to have grown out long enough to hit the keys. Maybe something about the continued stress "signals" the growing nail to get stronger?
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