For as long as I can remember I have had problems with my nails and as any classical guitarist knows, that is never good news 🙂 Between being a complete klutz, being just a little bit OCD ( I “worry” them when I get stressed but thats a whole other blog post !! ) and playing steel-string a lot, it seemed like my nails were constantly breaking and it was a PROBLEM. It would put a damper on my practice schedule, cause havoc when I had classical performances looming and would of course affect my tone. I will be the first to admit that I am not a “powerhouse shredder”, but I have always felt my tone has been one of my stronger point as a player (thank you Mr Scott Tennant 🙂 ) Bottom line, constantly being derailed by a broken nail (I think I here a song lyric in there somewhere?) was a complete bummer !!!
I have tried almost everything from supplements to diet changes to every sort of nail strengthening/repair products know to man and nothing really every worked as a permanent solution. I have had many friends and students go the acrylic route and my opinion has always been kind of on the fence. The cons of acrylic for me have always seemed to be a reduction in “warmth” of tone and they have always sounded pretty “heavy” on a nylon string with the propensity for a lot of extraneous string noise. Also, I had been told more than a few times that once you go acrylic your nail composition is basically wrecked…..its hard to go back.
After a round of concerts last fall I was just SO burned out with nail issues that I decided to just take the plunge. I went to a local nail shop at the recommendation of my friend and asked the manicurist to go as THIN as possbile on my right hand PIMA and was very specific about shape. She looked at me like I was a little nuts, but was very obliging 🙂
It has now been a few months and I must admit, I really like them. I am still working with shape and length and do definitely notice a difference, however I am THRILLED with the freedom to play as much finger-style steel string as I want without wrecking my nails and not having to carry around a zip-lock bag full of nail repair products in case of emergency 🙂 I have learned that acrylics are not completely indestructible (apparently sliding down a playground slide with two 8 year olds and 6 six year old and having a hard landing WILL shatter an M and A nail ;), but so far, so good. I will keep you posted 🙂