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Thread: Are Gel Fingernails strong enough for vigorous strumming?

  1. #1
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    Default Are Gel Fingernails strong enough for vigorous strumming?

    I have decided to take the plunge and try out fake nails to replace my brittle index finger on my strumming hand. I think I have read most (if not all) of the threads on this, but still have a question.

    From what I have read here and on classical guitar forums, I am pretty sure gel (as opposed to acrylic) fingernails are strong enough for finger picking. The question is whether they will stand up to vigorous ukulele strumming?
    Last edited by SweetWaterBlue; 10-16-2018 at 02:19 PM.

  2. #2
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    I found gel nail polish weakened my nails because each time I went to the salon they buffed my natural nail down. And probably more damaging I would end up peeling the gel off as it chipped. I have found my nails have gotten stronger as I kept playing. But others swear by acrylic and gel nails.

  3. #3
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    I originally gave up classical guitar because my nails were not strong enough as natural.

    Strumming is for my nails easier. I think they can last just fine natural if strumming for 2 hours/day at least, normal strumming. Have to be of course shortened maybe every other day with a file.
    For chucking/chunking I use all 3 nails except pinkie, sometimes for strumming too, instead just index finger. Thumb nail I keep short to be able to easy down pick with just flesh.

    It is the finger picking that destroys my thin curving nails.

  4. #4
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    Why have you chosen Gel over Acrylic?

    I use Acrylic nails and they are easily strong enough for vigorous strumming.
    Acrylic nails are harder and usually thicker than Gel. Gel are more flexible and usually go on thinner. Both should be strong enough but I'm curious as to why you have specified Gel.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by anthonyg View Post
    Why have you chosen Gel over Acrylic?

    I use Acrylic nails and they are easily strong enough for vigorous strumming.
    Acrylic nails are harder and usually thicker than Gel. Gel are more flexible and usually go on thinner. Both should be strong enough but I'm curious as to why you have specified Gel.
    Two reasons:

    1. I intend to do them myself, rather than going to a salon. The gels look simpler to apply.

    2. I’ve played with a variety of finger picks including Alaska, Fred Kelly and Butterfly. I have also tried painting on my own with tissue paper and super glue, which dries very hard as I suspect acrylics do. I find The tone from the harder ones harsher.

    In my mind, the gels would be more flexible, and thus my reason for thinking I might prefer them.

    Maybe I am way off in my thinking

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by SweetWaterBlue View Post
    Two reasons:

    1. I intend to do them myself, rather than going to a salon. The gels look simpler to apply.

    2. I’ve played with a variety of finger picks including Alaska, Fred Kelly and Butterfly. I have also tried painting on my own with tissue paper and super glue, which dries very hard as I suspect acrylics do. I find The tone from the harder ones harsher.

    In my mind, the gels would be more flexible, and thus my reason for thinking I might prefer them.

    Maybe I am way off in my thinking
    OK, My advice is to let the professionals do them and not do it yourself. Unless your a ridiculous distance from a nail salon of course. I like the tone of Acrylic because I file and buff them myself later to put a very smooth edge on them and the smoother the edge the smoother the sound. A rough edge will give a harsher sound.

    You could experiment with both and see what the difference is to yourself. Around where I am most salons charge $5 per nail and you only need 3 or 4 nails done so its not expensive. They need to be redone every 4-6 weeks depending on how concerned you are about how they look.

    Its the smoothness of the edge that affects the tone and you will need to regularly file and buff them anyway.

  7. #7
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    Just to close the loop on this thread, thanks for all the thoughts. I decided to go with acrylic. Yesterday, I did my first one with a kit I had bought at a beauty supply store before I posted my original question. I put on a tip and filled it with the acrylic like the nail tech I watched on YT. I can’t say it's pretty enough to satisfy any woman I know, but it seems pretty sturdy. I strummed and finger picked with it for several hours with no problems so far. Its fantastic to get such good tone and volume without wearing a finger pick, or worrying about breaking a painful nail. I am sure it probably it won’t last as long as the one I could have gotten at a salon, but I am a DIY kind of guy. I know the next one will be even better. I’ll let you know if my finger falls off lol.
    Last edited by SweetWaterBlue; 10-18-2018 at 08:20 PM.

  8. #8
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    I'm glad it worked out for you. Keep them filed and polished for best performance.

    TO be honest, putting them onto a clean nail is the easy part. Its redoing them that gets more difficult. At a salon they will either infill them or remove them and refit them depending on the condition of them. Since your doing it yourself it would probably be a good idea to infill them regularly. File them down a little first and then infill.

  9. #9
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    We have been taking collagen for several months and noticed my nails are Much stronger.
    Its also supposed to improve skin appearance.

    Not cheap at about a $1 an once, but available at Sam's Club or Costco which is much better than retail.
    Playing my Magic Fluke and grinning like a fool!

  10. #10
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    An ex wife swore that Knox Gelatin worked very well to strengthen her claws er, nails.

    There are several nail hardener products on the market. You paint them on.

    My wife suggested that my nails are too dry and to just put hand lotion on them when I do my hands. (Makes a slight difference, maybe.)

    I strongly recommend using a glass nail file over a metal one or emery boards. They last practically forever. They have a very fine "tooth". So your nail is left very smooth and won't have as great a tendency to crack or chip away. I'd never heard of them until I read about them in an article about nail care for stringed instrument players.

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