One of the most demanded questions encountered by the guitarist is the shape, length and care of the right hand fingernails.Whether the string is struck from the right or from the left or even the middle of the nail the problems remains the same.
The length, shape and surface of your fingernails have a direct effect on your playing: how you care for your nails will affect your music as much as how you practice. This is considered an important matter because it affects the sound quality or timbre which the guitarist is producing on the instrument.
The Length of the Nails
To verify your nails length you must hold your hand with the palm facing you. You should see the tips of the nails just peeking past the fingertips (1 to 2 mm).
The Caring Of the Nails
A great number of commercial stuff claim to strengthen and harden weak nail. But these are often very extensive and do not achieve the hopeful result. I can give you few examples which you can try out, one after another, in order to care for your nails.
First month every evening rub some lemon juice into and around the nail, the 2 month you can use deodorized paraffin in the same way, the 3 MONTH make the same application with olive oil and the 4 month go back to the lemon juice.
The Shape of the Nails
If you do not know how to determine the slant of your nails, fold a piece of emery paper on the first string, hold it with the left hand and play on the paper in your usual position of the hand. In that way your nail all by itself will assume its shape.
Notice: Every individual has his own preferred shape of nail.
Having nails on the right hand is certainly not all of it, these nails need to de filed shaped and slanted in that way that they produce a pleasant sound.
So the best way of filing nails is to start with a cardboard file. Hold the file pointing toward your face (looking down its length), with the finer surface facing upward. Holding your finger at a ninety degree angle (perpendicular) to the file, place the nail on the surface. The vector of your finger should be around forty-five degrees to the plane of the file, so that the nail is being filed somewhat from beneath. File the nail by evenly drawing the file back and forth with the left hand, exerting even pressure and guiding it in place with the right thumb.
This file gives you the general shape of the nail. Then depending on your nails hardness or weakness you can use emery paper.
After the nail is filed, its edge must be finely polished. Take a small portion of 1000 grade open coat sandpaper and rub, with a back and forth motion, the same spot of sandpaper on the edge of the nail, particularly concentrating on the left side of the nail. The surface of the sandpaper will wear down as you rub, creating an increasingly smoother polishing surface. Keep rubbing until the edge is as smooth as a glass surface.
Indifferent of your conditions of the nail you must always finish shaping them with 2000 paper and then you can buff them with chamois leather mounted on a piece of wood.
After you’re finished, visually inspect each nail for consistency in length and shape. Use the thumbnail edge to feel each fingernail edge for flaws in smoothness and shape. If your nails are properly shaped with the edges finely polished, there should be a distinct increase in ease of execution, and also in tone quality.
- Cardboard file
- Emery Paper N2000
- Chamois leather
How can I prevent my nails from breaking?
- Avoid getting your nails wet. Use rubber gloves when you have to wash dishes, the car, etc.
- Get into the habit of using your left hand for things such as opening doors/drawers, flicking switches, anything where you might catch the nails on something.
- Let your left thumbnail grow a little long so you can use it for prying instead of the right one.
- Keep the nail edge very smooth with a file and ultra fine sand paper (around 600 grit). This will prevent little snags which can catch on things and maybe rip off the nail tip.
- Apply two or three layers of clear nail polish. Put polish on the overhanging underside of the nail too.
- Don’t let the nails get too long. They can hamper your playing and they may break easier.
- Also to protect your nails from breaking you can put on and under the nails scotch tape am practicing this when they are too short or usually before concerts to keep my nails intact. Works great.