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Thread: Index finger nail wear

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Prospect, Connecticut


    Many finger style guitarists use acrylic nails. James Taylor uses them as well as Michael Johnson. James used to have finger picking tutorials on his website. One of the videos covered press on nails. I just checked his website and he still has the video on finger nails.It's in the free guitar lesson section. Worth a look if you are thinking of going that route. If they are good enough for James Taylor that would be good enough for me. He's always been one of my favorite guitarists. Best of luck.
    Last edited by peanuts56; 05-08-2017 at 02:04 AM.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    East Midlands UK


    I always played steel strung guitar, both six and 12 string
    with my fingers; never used a pick. I play my ukuleles the
    same way, but without thinking about it, as a hang over
    from my guitar days (I suspect!) I tend to use all of my
    fingers,not just the index finger, and I have never had a
    All power and respect to you Concert,Tenor and Baritone players, but Soprano is what does it for me every time!

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Seattle, WA


    just a thought

    remember, there's a difference between fingerpicking (generally from below the string) and
    strumming (generally striking from above).

    I know fingerpickers like to use artificial nails, but strummers seem to have issues with using
    them. Probably has to do with the differences in the forces and direction of forces used in
    those techniques.

    anyway, lots of good advice and suggestions!

    keep uke'in',
    Uncle Rod Higuchi
    ( )

    Ukulele Boot Camp, FREE Songbook, Holiday, Hawaiian & More:
    Crazy G tutorial on YouTube ( uncle rod crazy g )
    pdf file for Crazy G:

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    London, UK


    I wonder if there might not be a technique issue here too. When I first started playing I tended to strum with my fingertips, and that wore my nails down very quickly. It wasn't till I started teaching (ie demonstrating strumming techniques) that I actually started to attack the strings with the top side of my nail (the 'nail body' in the attached image) rather than the top edge; if you see what I mean. That slowed down the rate of wear considerably.

    Pic from Amazing Nails 4 Guitarists, btw, full of handy (ha! see what I did there?!) tips
    Last edited by redpaul1; 05-11-2017 at 03:43 AM.
    Argapa custom piccolo | Argapa custom resonator soprano | Rob Collins custom soprano | Kavanagh custom concert | Ashton sop. | Clearwater SB electric concert | Kala PU-SSTU travel sopranissimo | Kala PU-SMH sopranissimo | Kala SSTU-BP soprano | Kala C/MU concert "The Mighty Uke"! | Kala SSTU-C concert | Kala SSTU-T tenor | Korala UKS-310 sop | Harley Benton BCJ100-FMH SB electric baritone | Lanikai S-B Baritone | Clearwater "long neck" baritone | Maholo sop. | Tiny Tangi

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  5. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Ames, Iowa/San Juan, Puerto Rico


    My fingernails wear, but not to the point where they bleed, or anywhere close. Since this thread has started I've been wondering if I'm blessed with strong fingernails or if it is some technique that I developed. But my usual strum is that strum where one waves the fingers up and down over the string, rather then just sticking a finger out and alternating between pointing up and pointing down. I do the finger pointer strum as well, but not as much. But one thing that I've noticed since I started paying attention to it, is that I do not strum particularly hard. I was watching a person yesterday who I was playing with and she was really strumming hard. Harder than she had to in my opinion. I think that she could have gotten more volume if she had lightened up a little and smoothed out her strum. But after reading this thread I was thinking about it while she was playing and I thought that she is going to have fingernail problems eventually if she keeps it up.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Arizona, USA


    I like these Fred Kelly finger picks.
    They fit on your finger like a nail and allow you to strum down and up with no catch. They are very comfortable and give a great ring out of the strings.

    The other thing I would suggest is to add a gel nail polish to that finger. You can put it on yourself or go to a salon. There are a lot of professionals that do this. A gel nail is not the same as acrylic. Its a softer thinner product. A salon could put that on for you in a matter of minutes.
    Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2012


    Good subject, I have the same problem. I am a classical guitarist, so I need my nails for that, but I found that ukulele strumming would thin my nails, especially the index one, leading to dents and breakages. Now, when playing in anger (gig or long rehearsal) I protect my nail using a system that is pioneered by Rico Stover. He calls it 'Riconails', and he sells it. I bought this from him. I now use a similar method using material that I buy from various sources. First, get a box of false nails (the 'no step' ones). They are very cheap and a box contains several sizes. Second, buy "glue dots", these are little pancakes of glue. Also fairly cheap, find the thin type. Now, select the right size of nail, file it into shape, and glue it onto your natural nail using a glue dot. This is a one gig solution, you take it off afterwards, using water. It is non-toxic (having false nails permanently attached IS). Attaching superglue just to the nail rim, as posted before in this thread, is done by some classical players (mixed with acrylium powder for strength), but for strumming this would not be my solution, as you get a 'step' into your nail. There is more to say about the gluedot way, but we could discuss this if there's interest. I find this solution saves me. The feel of natural nails is best, but you can come close.

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Space Coast, FL


    I've seen a couple of people use aLaska Piks. The plastic kind are similar to the Fred Kelly, but fit over your fingertip and under the front edge of your fingernail. Aaron Keim provides a good description/explanation of them here:

    If you're interested, you get them here:

    Fortunately, I think my fingernails are made of granite. Oddly enough I've found them starting to flatten, but that's about it. I have to use a toenail clipper on my fingernails, regular clippers break. I'm not complaining.
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  9. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2017


    Quote Originally Posted by strumsilly View Post
    when my index finger gets sore, I use my middle, or a thin flat pick.
    This shows the real love towards playing a ukulele.

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2008


    It is a problem, this wearing down of nails. While nail hardners will wear off, if you apply every day it should help carry you. "Poofy Polish" is organic, and a base layer of that and top layer of "Hard As Nails" or the like helps. I like the Poofy because it's easier on my nail, and hardens nicely, the HAN because it's pretty hard. Remove with a non-acetate and re-apply fresh weekly. Might help. You'll have a few layers to remove, and you can build it up again. HAN by itself was ok, but tended to dry out the nail.

    The above is probably horrible advice, but it's the only thing I've found that helps this issue.

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