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View Full Version : acrylic nail on index finger for strumming, good idea or not?



Uncle Rod Higuchi
08-29-2017, 04:48 AM
ever since October of 2016, due to much playing, i have worn down
my index fingernail and have been keeping it short - not on purpose
but simply as the result of much strumming.

I've been thinking about attaching an acrylic fingernail to my index
fingernail because my nail has become so short that as I strum, the
strings are making contact with the fleshy tip of my index finger
and that hurts me :(

anyway, my question, as per the title above, has to do with the
advisability of attaching an acrylic nail to my index fingernail for
strumming assistance.

any anecdotal experiences or simple suggestions will be appreciated.

keep uke'in',

Ukecaster
08-29-2017, 05:11 AM
Same here, the strumming side of my index finger always gets worn way down, then the other longer side eventually splits, and I'm back to square one. It can never grow out if I'm playing daily. I'm considering the same thing, for maybe index finger and thumb. I already tried a filed down fingerpick, but it just doesn't do it for me.

frigiliana
08-29-2017, 06:13 AM
Started having a false nail fitted to my index finger after it wore down too much to strum a month back and it's been great , it's given my natural nail chance to grow for one thing , theres a ladies nail studio near me charges 2 , i'm in and out in 5 minutes . One thing to remember it's thicker at the tip than your own nail so i file down the underside and top to thin it down for a better sound .

sukie
08-29-2017, 07:50 AM
I have had either an acrylic or gel nail on my thumb for years. At times I've also had them on my index and middle fingers,too. It's a commitment. But you don't have to worry about nails breaking. I would go in every 3 weeks and have it filled. I like it.
But, I went to see Troy Fernandez one time. I was with him while he was getting ready to perform. He uses fake nails that are glued on just before he plays. So those are temporary. He is one of my ukulele gods...I got to help him put the nail on. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven.

Jim Yates
08-29-2017, 08:42 AM
I have very weak nails (psoriasis) and originally got an acrylic gel nail on my bird finger for playing clawhammer banjo, but I found that it gave my guitar finger picking an unbalanced sound, so for the past decade or so I've been getting the index, bird and ring finger of my right hand done. Susan at Lily's Nails knows exactly how I want them done. I find that if I can see just a mm or so of nail from the palm side of my hand, it suits me just fine. I use both index and bird fingers for ukulele.

Susan thinks it's really funny to ask me what colour I'd like them this time. After 10 years, it gets a bit old, but she's a sweetheart, so I just smile and nod my head.

If I can't get into the salon, I'll fill the gap with Sally Hanson's Hard As Nails With Nylon.

Booli
08-29-2017, 09:35 AM
...
If I can't get into the salon, I'll fill the gap with Sally Hanson's Hard As Nails With Nylon.

Thanks for mentioning this product. Janeray1940 has also mentioned Sally Hanson nail care products before.

Over the past year my natural nails have gotten a little weaker and occasionally split at the edges. I prefer to keep using my natural nails as long as possible, so I'm going to get this one you listed above and have it added to my cart on Amazon for my next order...as they have a 2-pack for $6.70 USD via:

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0087AGAV8/

Ukecaster
08-29-2017, 10:53 AM
Update...since my index nail cracked off again, I said screw it, I'm gonna a try a nail salon. One well out of town, to stay incognito. It was rather embarrassing to walk in there, being a big stocky 6'2" guy, but she did a full manicure and put acrylics on thumb and index of my right hand. Despite telling her no gloss, they ended up glossy, so I removed the gloss with 0000 steel wool at home. Looks natural, but longer than I've ever had. She said they get lots of guys in for mani and pedi...who knew? Upon arrival home grabbed my uke, and wow, what volume and power! Will take a bit of getting used to. Only bad thing is that I need to learn how to type on a tablet again, as I'm a hunt & peck guy, and rely on index finger there too :D. It took over 10 minutes to type this post :uhoh:

sopher
08-29-2017, 11:05 AM
Yes, I have acrylics on Thumb, Index and Middle and it gives me great versatility with the uke - I can play flesh or nail and get quite a variety of sounds. It does make typing on my phone a little harder - buy a stylus!!

Good luck
Dennis

Pueo
08-29-2017, 11:20 AM
Ukulele great Bryan Tolentino swears by acrylic nails on his index and middle fingers - he often posts on facebook his latest color / bling / sparkly choices, he has embraced it and has a good time with it.
As a reformed guitar player I used to use a pick, no nails at all, and as my nails are very thin by nature I keep them trimmed so no "white" shows at the tip at all and use the flesh of my fingertips - so far so good, but sometimes I miss the power and precision of a pick. I sometimes flirt with the idea of doing the nails myself, but I am far too lazy to keep it up, so I just work on perfecting my technique with no nails. I just try to be Wes Montgomery. :D I have LONG way to go with that!

peanuts56
08-29-2017, 11:21 AM
James Taylor uses them. He used to have a video on his website tutorials regarding acrylic nails. It may still be on his website. I've always liked the way he plays. I don't know how much strumming he does, great finger picker though.
Michael Johnson uses them as well. He recorded the song Bluer Than Blue back in the late 70's. Michael is an excellent guitarist.

jbm
08-29-2017, 11:27 AM
These things are excellent. Put them on when you need them and then just take them off. The nail can be re-used quite a few times. I can strum as hard as I want to and it won't come off.

http://www.ricoguitarnails.com/

Booli
08-29-2017, 01:32 PM
... Only bad thing is that I need to learn how to type on a tablet again, as I'm a hunt & peck guy, and rely on index finger there too :D. It took over 10 minutes to type this post :uhoh:

word of advice: "pinky"

On my right hand, all nails except pinky are 2mm beyond fingertip, and pinky is trimmed short like fretting hand (left) fingers, so pinky becomes like a stylus for me on iPad and phone...

Just think how elite and fancy-man you will look and feel with your pinky extended for typing purposes...:)

Rllink
08-29-2017, 01:41 PM
Just to join in the conversation, how do you take care of them? I don't think they would work for me, as one of my other pastimes is working on vintage motorcycles. I'm just afraid that a daily dose of grease, oil, gasoline and cleaning solvent would cause problems. If all I did was play the ukulele it might be interesting to give it a try, but with the motorcycles, scraping paint, working in the yard, don't they pull you natural nails?

Jim Yates
08-29-2017, 01:47 PM
Update...since my index nail cracked off again, I said screw it, I'm gonna a try a nail salon. One well out of town, to stay incognito. It was rather embarrassing to walk in there, being a big stocky 6'2" guy, but she did a full manicure and put acrylics on thumb and index of my right hand. Despite telling her no gloss, they ended up glossy, so I removed the gloss with 0000 steel wool at home. Looks natural, but longer than I've ever had. She said they get lots of guys in for mani and pedi...who knew? Upon arrival home grabbed my uke, and wow, what volume and power! Will take a bit of getting used to. Only bad thing is that I need to learn how to type on a tablet again, as I'm a hunt & peck guy, and rely on index finger there too :D. It took over 10 minutes to type this post :uhoh:

Lily's Nails is about 5 blocks from my house. I can't be travelling to another town every time I want my nails done, and I'm not worried about staying incognito. Now if I had to get a bikini wax to help my guitar playing, I'd probably head to a different town, but to get my nails done? Who cares?

Booli
08-29-2017, 02:06 PM
Just to join in the conversation, how do you take care of them? I don't think they would work for me, as one of my other pastimes is working on vintage motorcycles. I'm just afraid that a daily dose of grease, oil, gasoline and cleaning solvent would cause problems. If all I did was play the ukulele it might be interesting to give it a try, but with the motorcycles, scraping paint, working in the yard, don't they pull you natural nails?

Wearing gloves appropriate for the task at hand goes a long way towards protecting them during such activities.

About once per week they need filing to keep them the correct shape and length and to prevent them from snagging on anything. I use an emery board for rough shaping, a curved nail file that has a rounded shape that matches my fingertip arc for fine shaping, and a glass nail file for 'polishing the edge' which assures that they glide across the string when picking/plucking/strumming...takes all of 5-10 mins nowadays after about 3 yrs...

If a nail gets split or chipped it gets filed back and I have to compensate my playing technique, if 2 or more get damaged, I have to file them all back to the same length otherwise it is impossible for me to compensate for so many at once.

Playing with fingertips feels and sounds dead to me, which I had to do only once in 3 yrs when I was NOT wearing gloves and had to cut a big tree branch with a hand saw, up on a ladder and the branch took the saw with it, and the saw blade flipped back and chipped and split all finger's nails P-I-M-A, so they all had to be filed back, and I felt handicapped. Might as well have had Duct tape over my fingertips for 2 weeks while they grew back.

Since then, I have made sure to have a few packs of different kinds of gloves and will not do anything involving tools without them on my hands, except uke and guitar setups of course....

anthonyg
08-29-2017, 03:03 PM
I've been using acrylic nails for years. For many years my thumbnail was still strong enough to not need acrylic but I've been playing so much the last 12 months that I've had to reenforce my thumbnail to. For me its about clean and powerful picking. That's my sound.

Anyway what should be mentioned explicitly is that once you start down this road you need to keep going back to have them infilled or replaced and your natural nails will be weaker on their own without acrylic. I know I need them done again when they start to catch on the strings when I strum on the back stroke.

As to solvents and oils my acrylic nails handle a bit of abuse in that regard but I haven't tried it all day long every day.

Jarmo_S
08-29-2017, 03:25 PM
I don't have nails, meaning if I pick with my finger it is only flesh in contact.

And I certainly don't get a sore fingertip strumming with my index finger? Can't understand how that could happen? Maybe some ultrafast strumming and then get nylon burns? My strings are nylgut, but then I did not get any either with my classical nylon string guitar. So I can't understand.

The sound is certainly more silent than with a pick, but I play by myself as accompaniment, so it is enough.
Pick is not IMO right and does not feel natural for ukulele. I have used it for guitar, but there the playing right hand position is totally different.

I can understand the need for nail if wanting to be heard in a group of other uke players, them all nail or pick players.

janeray1940
08-29-2017, 04:20 PM
It's a commitment.

And this is EXACTLY why I just can't bring myself to do it, even though I have horrible nails that just snap right off unprovoked.


Janeray1940 has also mentioned Sally Hanson nail care products before.


Sadly, a couple years back Sally Hansen stopped making the miracle product that I loved so much! They replaced it with some stupid nail polish hardener stuff. The product that worked so well was not polish, but a gel with vitamins (E and A?) that you would rub into your nails and it actually changed the texture, making my brittle nails much stronger and less prone to snapping right off.

As for those polish-like hardeners - I've found that with continued use, they actually weaken my nails, probably because playing the uke makes the polish flake off, then I have to use polish remover to get the rest off and start all over. I just can't imagine all those chemicals are good for the body.

So for me - it's a thumb pick and living with the worn down index finger nail.

Ukecaster
08-29-2017, 05:28 PM
....Sadly, a couple years back Sally Hansen stopped making the miracle product that I loved so much! They replaced it with some stupid nail polish hardener stuff. The product that worked so well was not polish, but a gel with vitamins (E and A?) that you would rub into your nails and it actually changed the texture, making my brittle nails much stronger and less prone to snapping right off.


This stuff was recommended here by someone. I've always had weak nails, but this stuff really strengthened mine, using only a pea-sized dab, 2-3 times a day. The story is, it was originally for horses hooves, and was applied by hand, by the grooms, who noticed a dramatic improvement in their hands and nails too. However strong, my index finger strumming nail still wore down to nothing on that side.

https://www.amazon.com/Mane-Tail-Hoofmaker-Hand-Therapy/dp/B00HLSZ3MO/ref=pd_sim_199_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=WPM3VJ9W0770YZAR34WZ

janeray1940
08-29-2017, 05:51 PM
This stuff was recommended here by someone. I've always had weak nails, but this stuff really strengthened mine, using only a pea-sized dab, 2-3 times a day. The story is, it was originally for horses hooves, and was applied by hand, by the grooms, who noticed a dramatic improvement in their hands and nails too. However strong, my index finger strumming nail still wore down to nothing on that side.

https://www.amazon.com/Mane-Tail-Hoofmaker-Hand-Therapy/dp/B00HLSZ3MO/ref=pd_sim_199_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=WPM3VJ9W0770YZAR34WZ

Worth a try next time I place an Amazon order. Thanks for the recommendation!

bunnyf
08-29-2017, 06:11 PM
I have very soft nails and play frequently for long stretches of time. My index fingernail can wear down to the quick. I have tried the SH nail hardening polish that's available currently and have not found it effective (wears off right away). I don't like the chemicals or upkeep required with salon nails and they can lead to nail health issues. The riconails with the little glue dots would seem to be a cool idea, but I can't see it being practical if you play frequently throughout the day (taking them off and then back on). I've gotten used to a pick since I started playing guitar, and I use them now with some frequency even on ukulele. This has really saved my index finger and has been my main go-to for just plain strumming (and I'm getting more comfortable with flat picking). If I am fingerpicking, I like Kelly freedom pick, (I use the Deltrin ones, haven't tried the poly) http://fredkellypicks.com/product-category/freedom-pick/. Aaron Keim has a good video on picks https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AL5uUUhtdp4.

Osprey
08-30-2017, 03:14 AM
This stuff was recommended here by someone. I've always had weak nails, but this stuff really strengthened mine, using only a pea-sized dab, 2-3 times a day. The story is, it was originally for horses hooves, and was applied by hand, by the grooms, who noticed a dramatic improvement in their hands and nails too. However strong, my index finger strumming nail still wore down to nothing on that side.

https://www.amazon.com/Mane-Tail-Hoofmaker-Hand-Therapy/dp/B00HLSZ3MO/ref=pd_sim_199_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=WPM3VJ9W0770YZAR34WZ

I need to give this a try. My strumming nail wears down to nothing in no time. I end up strumming with the fleshy part of my thumb.

WifeOnFourStrings
08-30-2017, 05:59 AM
Taimane on the subject of nails :) :


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gvhTWLSlfE

I have weak nails, but I've always avoided acrylics because from what I've seen of family members who've had them, they make the natural nail weaker over time. Also, keeping them healthy can be a challenge if you frequently wet your hands.

I'm going to give Mane 'n Tail Hoofmaker a try since their shampoo has an excellent reputation. For anyone ordering from Amazon, it's much cheaper as an add-on item: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000TG84BC/

SailingUke
08-30-2017, 06:07 AM
I used to have an issue with strumming my nail down. I discovered that buffing my nail helps for whatever reason, maybe being smoother reduces drag and wear. Also when I go to a big jam where I am going to be strumming long and loud I wear a freedom finger pick to protect my nail.

Ukecaster
09-01-2017, 04:34 AM
I'm 3 days in with my acrylics on pointer and thumb, and can't believe how great it is, especially the pointer, for both strumming and fingerpicking. They are so much thicker and harder than my weak, constantly problematic natural nails; I can strum much harder and faster than before, and get great volume and attack, especially on soprano. Who let the dogs out? So easy to get the sops barking. If I ever played that hard with my real nail, I'd be in serious pain. Not sure yet of the effects on my natural nails, but the improvement, to me, has been incredible, and I can't see being without them. I can now easily and confidently bang out some pretty complex strumming tunes.

Ukecaster
09-07-2017, 10:58 AM
I'm about 10 days in with my 2 fake nails, going well, but I'm also wearing down the acrylic on my pointer somewhat, about 10% gone now on the strumming side, still plenty left though. I noticed some white powdery residue around the 12th fret where I strum. The nail tech recommended coming back once a month, it was $22.00 for a full manicure, with 2 fakes installed. That seems worth it to me, considering how much better I can strum, with way better volume & attack.

sukie
09-07-2017, 12:12 PM
I'm about 10 days in with my 2 fake nails, going well, but I'm also wearing down the acrylic on my pointer somewhat, about 10% gone now on the strumming side, still plenty left though. I noticed some white powdery residue around the 12th fret where I strum. The nail tech recommended coming back once a month, it was $22.00 for a full manicure, with 2 fakes installed. That seems worth it to me, considering how much better I can strum, with way better volume & attack.
You can skip the manicure part if you want. I do. I just get my thumb done every 2-3 weeks.

bratsche
09-08-2017, 12:01 PM
If I needed to do this and were stuck with only using two, they'd have to be my thumb and middle finger. I use my index only about 1/4 as much as my middle. But so far, my nail growth is staying comfortably ahead of my fingerpicking.

bratsche

Pleasure Paul
09-10-2017, 11:23 AM
Yes, wearing artificial nails makes for louder sound
Yes, artificial nails will weaken your natural nail, because it's covered up and taking the glue.
But, the glue used for permanent false nails is TOXIC.
The answer is a system called Rico nails, as mentioned previously in a post by jbm.
I use it for long rehearsals and for gigs. It prevents my nails wearing thin. The nails are attached with 'gluedots', and you take them off and put them on when you want. Water is enough to break the bond. Gluedots are not toxic. When you're interested we could get into more detail.

Osprey
09-10-2017, 04:01 PM
That sounds interesting

BBQUKER
09-13-2017, 10:55 AM
Well here goes. Went to my local Tractor Supply and purchased a 32 oz container of Mane 'n Tail Hoofmaker ($12.99 a lifetime supply I know). The cashier gals praised this product for nail and hand care. Need to get some cuetips to apply. Nails already feel like there is a strong coating on them. Will keep you posted.

Pleasure Paul
09-13-2017, 12:28 PM
That sounds interesting

Buy a box of artificial nails of all sizes (v. cheap). Get gluedots (the thin variety). Find the right size artificial nail for your particular finger. If the art. nail is more curved than your natural nail, you can tweak the curve by putting it in a bowl of hot water and applying some pressure. Trim art. nail roughly to length. Clean your natural nail with alcohol. Apply gluedot on nail (natural or artificial, whatever is easiest). Mount artificial nail. Smooth over the transition between artificial nail bottom and skin (that's an area which could catch the string during strumming), using medical tape. File nail into shape; polish. This will last a show or a long rehearsal. Keep dry! Remove nail with water. You can re-use nail, using a fresh gluedot. OK, it's a bit of work, but it will protect your natural nails, or save you when you need to play when a nail is broken, and it's non toxic.

Osprey
09-13-2017, 12:29 PM
Well here goes. Went to my local Tractor Supply and purchased a 32 oz container of Mane 'n Tail Hoofmaker ($12.99 a lifetime supply I know). The cashier gals praised this product for nail and hand care. Need to get some cuetips to apply. Nails already feel like there is a strong coating on them. Will keep you posted.

I have been putting it on everyday for about a week. I think my nail feel stronger. I am waiting till my nails grow a bit before I really test them. Pluck
Plucking and strumming with my thumb for now.