I love playing with a pick. I love playing with pick & fingers & I love finger picking. They give me different sounds & feels & ability to create the guitar parts I want to play. Whether it’s steel string or nylon eventually with much playing comes much wearing down of the nails. Here’s what I’ve been experimenting with over the years & a great guitarist’s nail article that gets into it all.
James Taylor told me about his use of nail wraps so that’s what I used for years. It’s a great warm sound that I love & it sounds like his guitar sound. In fact he’s taping videos of how he plays nine of his songs & he asked me for my opinion. I asked him to include a special feature section where he’ll show us his nail care & how he applies & takes care of his nail wraps. He puts on a layer of glue & then a nail wrap & after it dries & he trims it he does it twice again so that he has 3 layers. There are 3 kinds of wraps: silk, fiber glass & nylon.
Classical players use ping balls & glue a piece of the ball under their remaining nail. I haven’t tried this yet.
I love the sound I get with guitar player nails. They send you pieces of flat, plastic material & you cut & shape & trim & file & glue. And the thickness of the nail is set. With the wraps & the gel you create that thickness for each nail yourself.
There are Gel Nails, nothing harder, super tough & resilient. I bought this kit from Germany called, Power Nails. I love the sound of these as well & I liked not using nail or crazy glue. Turns out this nail product is Pat Metheny’s favorite. I know JT was sent this Power Nail kit but I don’t know if he ever tried the gel nails & if he liked them. You can buy some gel products on line & there are videos on you tube that better show how to extend the gel & be a nail when yours is to short. But I found that glue & gel seriously weaken your nail underneath. They get so soft & breakable.
There’s also Rico Nails where you use non toxic adhesives & surgical tape for extra support and when you’re done playing you can easily remove them without hurting your nails. You can just put them on to play & take them off when you’re done. They are a thinner material consequently a thinner, brighter guitar sound for me.
I use thin strings & prefer thicker guitar picks about 1.5mm but not necessarily super thick finger nails. I may try adhesive with the guitar player nails next!
Many players don’t bother with their nails at all. They just use their finger tips. I have been trying to prefer this for about a month now. Just for the ease of it & nothing toxic. But I don’t like how the strings feel or respond to me & I don’t prefer the sound.
What’s a guitarist to do?