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View Full Version : acrylic nails for picking - advice please!



barefootgypsy
06-18-2013, 10:34 PM
Hi everyone - I've finally decided to get acrylic nails on my strumming/picking hand. I see to recall there's a choice between whole nails or tips..... before I rush out and get it done, has anyone any info or good advice for me on this please? Please don't say grow my own..... it ain't gonna happen! Thanks! :)

ichadwick
06-19-2013, 01:37 AM
Easier answer: Trim your nails to the quick and use your fingertips to pick with. Much more responsive and flexible. nails aren't necessary and always keep breaking. Skin works best.

barefootgypsy
06-19-2013, 01:52 AM
Hey,
I ended up having to do the same thing as I keep strumming off my nails (strumin on skin aint no picnic;). Just a couple of my personal pros & cons.

I've only bought whole nails in a do-it-yourself kit. They're ok for a temporary fix (eg: day.. maybe two if it has good glue supplied or you switch to superglue). They're good for strumming, wont last so well for picking, and are quite thin which means that they mostly feel like your nails anyway, not much adjustment. And I would love them for just that reason... if, they would stay on.

The acrylics I've had applied at the nail place have all been tips. Then they cover the whole nail with a filler that dries as hard as rocks. It does tend to make your nail a lot thicker though (which can take a little bit to get used to when playing... especially if they're too long or too thick, which is what I find annoying initially)

Overall, pretty cheap and long lasting. You can get them back filled but I usually let mine grow off (usually 3 -4weeks). Great for picking, I convinced my fingerpicky guitar playing pal to get some & his playing was so much louder it almost drowned out my uke (we cant have that!! lol).

Biggest bummer? They do damage your nails underneath. I had hoped the acrylic would come off and leave a lovely strong natural nail underneath but so far no go. If anyone has any tips or ideas I'd be most grateful.

Be great to hear how anyone else has gotten along with this - good luck & Happy Strummin,
E;)Thanks so much for your input - when I had false nails once before, just for cosmetic reasons and to try it, I really liked them but like you, I didn't like the damage to my nail underneath, so I've never been tempted to repeat it til now. The tips you mention sound interesting, but I'm still weighing it all up! Good luck with yours, and thanks for the information! :)

barefootgypsy
06-19-2013, 01:55 AM
Easier answer: Trim your nails to the quick and use your fingertips to pick with. Much more responsive and flexible. nails aren't necessary and always keep breaking. Skin works best.Yes, that's what I've been doing up til now - but what I was thinking was that perhaps strumming and picking with nails would make a better, clearer sound - I do love the different perspectives on it, there's a lot for me to think about! Thanks a lot for replying, much appreciated!

jefrs
06-19-2013, 02:07 AM
I "grow my own" which means the rights are long and the lefts are very, very short.
I find cleaning and pruning them makes them grow longer and stronger.

But my right-hand picking nails, whilst exposed, do not extend beyond the tip of the finger by more than a millimetre or so. The string is pulled by the flesh of the fingertip pad and 'clipped' by the fingernail as it is released (or not as required, I don't really think about it). The 'sound' of the fingernail comes into its own when the back of the finger is used to pluck the string on the down stroke, and yes I do mean pluck rather than strum. If the nails are too long then you do not have the option to use the nibble-end of the finger and have to use claws on the strings which produces the wrong timbre and makes clicking noises.

coolkayaker1
06-19-2013, 02:19 AM
You could always use individual finger picks, especially thumb, like Brittni Paiva does. She has no nails. Just an idea, Lesley.

Example:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hm4qnQ98-zU

fromthee2me
06-19-2013, 02:22 AM
There is a distinct difference in sound (volume) if you have decent nails. An evening of playing does take its toll, and the pros are known to have superglue handy. Once you are used to longer strumming nails, playing without, sounds flattish. When I break the nail on my index finger eg:in my workshop, the sound of the instrument that I like, disappears for while, and the index' fingertip becomes uncomfortable whilst it grows back on.. In barefootgypsy's case he might be hired to perform, and perfom he must if there is money on the table...... I have not had artificial nails fitted, but I like long nails (2) to strum with, and not having them is inconvenient until grown back. = 5cents

wayfarer75
06-19-2013, 02:33 AM
Easier answer: Trim your nails to the quick and use your fingertips to pick with. Much more responsive and flexible. nails aren't necessary and always keep breaking. Skin works best.

Wow, it seems like everyone else on UU has longer nails. I thought I was the only one who kept them all short!

My nails are plenty hard, so I grew them out a bit on my right hand to see what would happen. All it did was make me start hitting the soundboard, which I rarely do with short nails. Lasted only a few days with that! I even tried just having my thumb long. I find I much prefer the sound of my fingertips on the strings, and I don't have to worry about maintaining a certain length or shape of my nail. Just cut 'em off.

Anyway, my understanding is there are other options than acrylic nails, like using gel and silk. I don't know if those are less damaging to the real nail underneath. Frankly, if I couldn't grow my own out, I'd try the temporary glue-on ones just to see how it feels to strum with longer nails. If I liked that, I would go with a more permanent option.

mm stan
06-19-2013, 03:11 AM
Yes they are not healthy for the nails below because the nails cant breathe...and become thinner .....try to wash dishes with gloves..hot water is a no no for nails... :)

23skidoo
06-19-2013, 03:16 AM
I fooled around with various types of finger picks and couldn't find anything I really liked and felt comfortable with. My nails are very soft and I work with my hands, so I could never grow my own. I also didn't see the point of going to a shop and spending money on professionally applied artificial nails - I would destroy them within a day or two working with my hands. I decided to try the DIY glue on nails and I've been happy with the results. I use the full nails (never tried tips) and keep super glue in my ukulele case, along with a few spare nails, already shaped. Before a gig, I intentionally pop them off and reapply them so there will be no surprises - they never come off on their own in the first 24 hours and sometimes will last 4 or 5 days.

I've experimented with different lengths and shapes and found a happy median that works for me. It's not an ideal solution, but I certainly get a lot more projection and articulation, both strumming and picking. I've found that my tone and that irritating acrylic 'clicking' can be greatly improved by the shape of the nail and how it's filed. Just wade through all the information out there on nail care for classical guitarists - there's a lot of claptrap, but it really is a fairly individual thing, depending on the shape and strength of your fingers, your playing style, the sound you want, etc..... lots of trial and error involved, but - for me - it's been worth the trouble.

EDIT - I'm also careful to pop them off every couple of days and clean my nails thoroughly, leaving them off sometimes for days at a time. I've been using them for quite a long time now and haven't seen any adverse effects.

anthonyg
06-19-2013, 03:25 AM
I have acrylic nails. My thumb is plenty strong enough without reinforcement so only have 3 fingers on my picking hand done. Acrylic nails are not false nails. They don't stick them on, they paint them on. To start with they are not longer, just thicker. The extra strength allows you nails to grow longer without breaking. As you nails grow you need to have them infilled and occasionally they need to be replaced completely.

Anthony

barefootgypsy
06-19-2013, 03:30 AM
There's so much here to take in - thanks so much everybody! This is such a great forum..... the answers are always there! So much appreciated! Sorry I can't answer everyone individually right now.... I'm busy getting ready to go to a big uke festival here in the UK in Cheltenham.... I'll be seeing James Hill, and attending one of his workshops! Also Ken Middleton and lots of others - can't wait! I do know it's sold out now......

Sparkle
06-19-2013, 03:34 AM
My immediate reaction to this is "no, not acrylics for playing!" I used to get them done regularly years ago. When I started having them applied, I asked about the bruising feeling I got when I manipulated this with any force--like buttoning pants, etc--with newly applied tips. I was told to go like at first until you adjust. Where your actual nails would flex, the acrylic nail cannot and that force is transferred into the bed and fingertip. The actual use can bruise the nail bed a bit. Just doesn't sound conducive to playing.

If you do intend to do them long term for playing, think about some time off from fake nails. Overtime, you can develop allergies from regular use that can cause the nail to separate completely from the bed. :-( You can also end up with yeast infections, etc. Most hygienic manicurists that I've known will recommend time off of tips regularly to give your nail some time to recover.

Raygf
06-19-2013, 04:01 AM
I have been dealing with a vertical split in my thumb nail for over a year. I use super glue and acrylic powder (being careful not to cover the entire nail), but it still breaks and splits. My Index, middle and ring finger nails are very strong. I occasionally apply Nail Envy, again, being careful not to cover the entire nail.

I started practicing slack key guitar with a thumb pick and have learned to use one. I like having contact with the strings and this took some time to get comfortable with it. One night recently I did a search and found this site. http://www.ricoguitarnails.com
I bought several sizes and a pack of adhesive dots. I applied a thumb nail and played all evening and it stayed on. I played ukulele, steel string and nylon string guitar. I was impressed especially playing steel string guitar. I've also been playing with the flesh of my thumb quite a bit, but I greatly miss my real nail. I've gone several days without anything on the nail and the split never seems to heal. Flesh, thumb picks and rico guitar nails it is for now!

SailingUke
06-19-2013, 05:05 AM
There's so much here to take in - thanks so much everybody! This is such a great forum..... the answers are always there! So much appreciated! Sorry I can't answer everyone individually right now.... I'm busy getting ready to go to a big uke festival here in the UK in Cheltenham.... I'll be seeing James Hill, and attending one of his workshops! Also Ken Middleton and lots of others - can't wait! I do know it's sold out now......

Ask Ken about his nails and care, he is very particular about fingernails and finger picking.

barefootgypsy
06-19-2013, 05:41 AM
Ask Ken about his nails and care, he is very particular about fingernails and finger picking.That is also excellent advice, SailingUke, thankyou! ;)

sukie
06-19-2013, 07:45 AM
I have starting getting fake nails. The kind I get are called "solar" nails. It's some kind of powder. The tech dips a brush into a liquid and then into the powder then applies it to my nails. They told me the solar nails are not as hard on the real nails as acrylic or gel. So far so good. I just last week got a solar nail on my thumb nail too. I've been getting the nails since November. I go in about every 3 weeks to get them filled. Every once in a while they take off all the old stuff and re-do them. It costs about $15 for the fills. Best $15 ever spent. I don't worry about nails breaking any more. And it has increased my confidence due to not worrying about how the nail hits the string.
There are pros and cons for using fake nails. Do what works best for you. For me the pros outweigh the cons.

Doc_J
06-19-2013, 08:08 AM
When I damage a nail, Fred Kelly Freedom Finger Picks work for me. All the other finger picks did NOT work for me.

http://fredkellypicks.com/freedom-pick.html

jefrs
06-19-2013, 08:18 AM
Heat does soften real nails, gloves or not but keeping them clean underneath and top seems to promote growth.
A long-term split can mean an infection or contact dermatitis (been there), get ointment from doctor, gone in a week.

I'm not sure how many boys and girls we have here but there is a dimorphism in that men have thicker tougher nails. My wife's nails are thinner and far more flexible than mine. My hands do get used for more 'industrial processes' which can mean the nail will get chipped of snapped off, whereas hers would bend. File out chips immediately. Regular and frequent maintenance. Always keep them clean.

I find an overly long thumbnail (mine is shaped like a flatpick) tends to catch under the string. The fingernails need to be keep rounded and smooth of they will catch too.
I also find overly long fingernails cannot put enough energy into the strings. I play finger style and there is a lot going on at the same time.
Example https://soundcloud.com/jefrs/early-in-the-morning (Blues on Kala tenor)

BigMamaJ40
06-19-2013, 10:22 AM
I have acrylics on three fingers. I wouldn't play without them.

I leave my pinky natural because, when I play the guitar, the acrylic is too loud when the pinky nailhit the pick guard. I also leave my thumb natural and use a thumb pick instead, because it is hard to pick up things with long thumb nails!

For your first set, the nail tech glues a plastic tip to your nail, and then covers everything with acrylic. Eventually, as your nails grow out, you'll need a fill done every 2 weeks or so, and the nail will become all acrylic.

In addition to a manicure and the 3 acrylics, I also have all my nails done with "gelish", which is fantastically tough and shiny, and makes my real nails blend in with my fake nails much better than regular nail polish.

Yes, it's a commitment, but I think it is worth it. And having a nice manicure stops me from chewing my nails!

barefootgypsy
06-20-2013, 01:02 AM
Well thanks so much everyone, yet again - really useful input from everyone who has contributed to this thread! It seems there are as many good answers as there are people to offer them, and in the end, all a matter of personal preference in terms of feel on the uke, feel on the fingers, sound from the uke, and feelings on time spent on maintenance. This has really helped me. I'm not good at growing my nails; as soon as they grow over the tip of my finger they annoy me if I play my piano - and that has always made me keep them very short. I did once have false nails for a special occasion, pre-uke days and loved the look, but wasn't tempted to continue - and I hated the perceived damage to my nails when they were finally removed. I've decided to try and grow the nails on my right hand, just enough to make a difference, and look after them...... I've bought some Strong as Nails to toughen them, on Ken's suggestion.... and we'll see how far I get! Meanwhile, all suggestions and opinions still welcomed! It's a really interesting subject! Packing for Uke Festival of Great Britain in Cheltenham, starts tomorrow...... lovely! :D

SweetWaterBlue
06-20-2013, 02:42 AM
I fooled around with various types of finger picks and couldn't find anything I really liked and felt comfortable with. My nails are very soft and I work with my hands, so I could never grow my own.

Hey Bill. I thought you were using Alaska Picks and liked them. You must not be using them anymore. I ordered a set and tried them out and did not like them. I find just a traditional thumb and finger picks more comfortable for me, or a regular finger pick, especially when I am playing guitar. Like you, I just cannot have natural nails. My nails aren't soft, but they split pretty easily, which means I have to break out the superglue and tissue paper to do a repair, which only lasts a day or so, especially when I am working on the car or house. I tried the home style stick on nails, but didn't like them either. When I am playing plugged in, I find that just finger tips are fine, but if you want volume and snappy tone, there is no substitute for a hard nail or pick.

23skidoo
06-20-2013, 03:31 AM
Hey Bill. I thought you were using Alaska Picks and liked them. You must not be using them anymore. I ordered a set and tried them out and did not like them. I find just a traditional thumb and finger picks more comfortable for me, or a regular finger pick, especially when I am playing guitar. Like you, I just cannot have natural nails. My nails aren't soft, but they split pretty easily, which means I have to break out the superglue and tissue paper to do a repair, which only lasts a day or so, especially when I am working on the car or house. I tried the home style stick on nails, but didn't like them either. When I am playing plugged in, I find that just finger tips are fine, but if you want volume and snappy tone, there is no substitute for a hard nail or pick.

Larry - I was using the Alaska pics for quite awhile and they certainly worked better than any of the other finger pics I tried. The longer I used them, though, the more I got tired of having to keep up with them, get them fitted, keep them on while playing (I was always knocking them off when strumming)..... The main reason I stopped using them, though, is that they're designed so that you have to have a bit of natural nail length in order to keep them in place. When I really needed them was when I'd shredded my nail to the point where I didn't have ANY nail length, so they're usefulness was pretty limited for me. However - they were affordable and worked really well when I could keep them on, just turned out to be more of a hassle than I wanted to deal with.