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Thread: Fingernails, FWIW

  1. #1
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    Default Fingernails, FWIW

    Thought I'd relate this personal anecdote, since there's quite a bit of discussion of nails on this forum.

    I've been content to use my fingerpads to play my ukes, but just recently began experimenting with growing my right hand nails a bit longer. I operated under the assumption that it would be an ultimate "fail", because my nails had been notoriously brittle and weak in the past, a fact which had prompted me to keep them all as short as could be - which meant you usually couldn't even see any white edge at all after I clipped them. My left hand fingernails always needed to be short for the viola and violin anyway, so I just did it that way on both hands so they "matched".

    However, in recent years, I couldn't help but notice I was needing to clip my nails three times a week. They were growing very rapidly. So I just decided to refrain from clipping on the right hand for a while, and began to use an emery board to shape the nails instead. I began to like what I heard while playing the uke, and found the ideal length for me. I generally like the sound best when both the fingerpad and the nail strike the note simultaneously; the nail alone not so much, so I keep them groomed accordingly now. Not too long, and not too short.

    But the amazing thing is, my nails no longer seem to be brittle. In fact, I have not even broken one in the 6 weeks or so that I've been doing this. And that is strange, because I'm simultaneously working on a home improvement project - namely, getting our extra bedroom (a/k/a my instrument room, and the catch-all junk room) ready for a new floor. This has meant a lot of digging through boxes of crap, sorting, packing, discarding and moving almost 2 decades' accumulation of "stuff" around, then ripping out old carpet, tacking strips, and baseboards, etc. And during all this, I have not worn work gloves or made any effort to protect my nails whatsoever In fact, since this is an experiment, and I'm not at this point overly invested in keeping my nails at a particular length, I've kind of been deliberately subjecting them to abuse, just to see how much they can take. Before painting the baseboards, as an example, I scraped off the old strips of caulk remaining on some of the top edges, entirely using my nails. And they unflinchingly took it - no breakage, no splitting!

    The only reason I can think of that my nails have gotten so strong, fast-growing and durable, contrary to what I'd expect as I'm getting older, is that I've been taking a supplement for the past several years. I've been an enthusiastic user of vitamins and herbal supplements for decades, but this particular one is a formula for "hair, skin and nails" and is a product at Vitacost.com (where we do much of our supplement shopping), under their own label. Absolutely no financial interest here, and truth be told, I've been taking it for the "hair" part, and am not sure at all if it's done me any good in that department! LOL... But the nails - oh, my! What a pleasant surprise. They weren't this strong even in my youth. YMMV, of course. But I'm just putting this out there because it's interesting.

    Cheers,
    bratsche
    Last edited by bratsche; 09-04-2017 at 12:43 PM.
    A bunch of stringed instruments tuned in fifths. And a bunch of cats!


    "There are two refuges from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

    GearGems - Gifts & apparel for musicians and more!

  2. #2
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    Interesting. I agree the combination and control of nail/ finger pad can augment the string tone.

    From what I've read & experienced, as we age our nails can get thicker. That's one of few benefits of aging I've experienced.
    -Hodge
    Humble strummer of fine ukes.

  3. #3
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    And all this time, I thought menopause was the only benefit of aging!

    bratsche
    A bunch of stringed instruments tuned in fifths. And a bunch of cats!


    "There are two refuges from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

    GearGems - Gifts & apparel for musicians and more!

  4. #4
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    I've two very thick toenails, but I can't use them for fingerstyle. I'm told it's fungus. Sh--.
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc_J View Post
    Interesting... That's one of few benefits of aging I've experienced.
    Yeah, your ears get bigger, your feet get bigger....other parts not so much
    Ask NOT what your country can do for Uke...ask what Uke can do for your country.

  6. #6
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    High potency Biotin is a recommended nail (and hair) supplement. I've been using it for about a month now. It is working well. Solgar – Biotin 10,000 mcg, 120 Vegetable Capsules

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickie View Post
    I've two very thick toenails, but I can't use them for fingerstyle. I'm told it's fungus. Sh--.
    My husband has that. I've read that soaking them with tea tree oil will kill the fungus, but can't get him to try it. Sometimes they fall off his toes entirely, and start growing again from scratch. I said I thought one might work as a (not-quite-) flatpick, but didn't have the stomach to actually try it. ;-)

    bratsche
    A bunch of stringed instruments tuned in fifths. And a bunch of cats!


    "There are two refuges from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

    GearGems - Gifts & apparel for musicians and more!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by bratsche View Post
    My husband has that. I've read that soaking them with tea tree oil will kill the fungus, but can't get him to try it. Sometimes they fall off his toes entirely, and start growing again from scratch. I said I thought one might work as a (not-quite-) flatpick, but didn't have the stomach to actually try it. ;-)

    bratsche
    Yeah, they call that husband tortoiseshell, very valuable, you should put it on ebay
    Ask NOT what your country can do for Uke...ask what Uke can do for your country.

  9. #9
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    As suggested in another thread, I have ordered Mane 'n Tail. Hand and Nail Therapy. I have just applied it on two days so far. Will see what it does after a few weeks. My fingernails break and split easily a trait I inherited from my Dad.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc_J View Post
    From what I've read & experienced, as we age our nails can get thicker.
    Funny thing, though, my nails don't seem to have gotten any thicker, only stronger and less brittle. Whatever the cause, I won't complain!

    Quote Originally Posted by cyber3d View Post
    High potency Biotin is a recommended nail (and hair) supplement. I've been using it for about a month now. It is working well. Solgar – Biotin 10,000 mcg, 120 Vegetable Capsules
    The stuff I'm taking has a bunch of things, including biotin. Not nearly as much biotin as that, though, and some ingredients are probably redundant, as they're in my daily multivitamin as well. Perhaps I'll look for a standalone biotin supplement. Wonder if it would improve my hair - that's what needs it most, at this point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ukecaster View Post
    Yeah, they call that husband tortoiseshell, very valuable, you should put it on ebay
    LOL. That term would probably get it flagged, though. Maybe just "husbandshell"...

    bratsche
    Last edited by bratsche; 09-04-2017 at 12:46 PM.
    A bunch of stringed instruments tuned in fifths. And a bunch of cats!


    "There are two refuges from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

    GearGems - Gifts & apparel for musicians and more!

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