Tips and Suggestions

Applying our nails

Applying our nails is a relatively simple procedure, however there is a science to it, as well as an art. Here are some tips and suggestions for you to get the most benefit from GuitarPlayerNails. Once you get a bit of experience, it only takes a few minutes to remove an old nail and put on a new one. It's actually pretty easy to try them out and change them without too much difficulty.

Which of our nails should you use?
It's really a subjective thing, a matter of personal taste. We recommend that you start with our type 1-A pre-formed nail, as it's our easiest nail to apply. Then once you've gotten used those for a while and can achieve good uniform results, try our type 1-B pre-formed nail. After you get used to the pre-formed nails, then try our strips. Which of our nail strips to use is a matter of personal preference. They have different characteristics as far as tone and feel are concerned. Of the many different materials we've had made for us and experimented with, the nail strips we carry now are the best we've found. Durability, quality and diversity of tone, and ease of use are the main traits we strive for. It may take a while before you get around to trying all of our nail material, but once you get the methods of application down, it's easy to try them out. It only takes a few minutes to remove an old nail and apply a new one. They're all great sounding nails.

Using our pre-formed nails

We've experimented with many pre-formed nails. Our pre-formed nails sound and feel great, with good durability. A major advantage to using our pre-formed nails is that they're very easy to work with, with a fast application time. If you have a rotary nail file with a good bit, you can remove an old nail, apply a new one, and be ready to play in less than 5 minutes. It takes a bit longer with a manual nail file. They also repair well. If you do need a repair while playing, you can fix it with a little nail glue and some nail glue dryer in less than a minute. If you have the time, add some fiberglass wrap first. Repairs hold very well. If a pre-formed nail is too wide, simply trim the side with some scissors to fit your natural nail plate. You only need to trim the right side of the nail, (pinky side) and it takes only a few seconds. If your natural nail is a bit too wide for the pre-formed nail, make sure the short side is the right "pinky" side. Make sure the left border (thumb side) of your natural nail is in line with the left edge of the pre-formed nail. If the curve in the pre-formed nail is a bit too much, you can flatten it out a bit to match the curve of your natural nail by holding it between your thumb and index finger, and gradually increasing pressure to flatten the curve. This may discolor the nail a bit, but that will disappear once the nail is applied and finished. You can also increase the curve by using our manicure stick and rolling it back and forth. (See Step 5 of our Instructions page).
The angle with which you apply our nails (and all artificial nails) to your natural nail plate is very important. It will determine your tone and feel. Rule of thumb is to apply our nails as straight as possible, while at the same time making sure you have no gaps at the tip of your natural nail underneath, where the artifical nail meets the natural nail. Also, very important for tone, is to make sure you apply pressure evenly, so that one side is not higher than the other. You want a nice symmetric curve. If the pinky side is too high you won't get that bite that you need at the end of the stroke. So press lightly at the middle of the nail during application so that it doesn't "seesaw" up on either side. If you do need to apply another nail, it only takes a few minutes to remove an old nail and apply a new one. So feel free to experiment if needed. End result should be a wide diversity of tone with crisp highs and warm soft tones. You can use fiberglass wrap with our pre-formed nails for added strength if needed. Please see step 23 of our Instructions Page on how to use our wrap.

Comparisons of the different characteristics of our pre-formed nails.
Over the last 30 years or so we've found some pretty good sounding pre-formed nails that work well for guitar playing.
The nails we currently carry all sound great, and have their own distinctive characteristics.
Here are some general characteristics and differences in our pre-formed nails.

Pre-formed type 1-A nail:
Because of the thinness and flexibility of this nail, it's very easy to apply. This nail can be used with, or without fiberglass wrap. Using wrap will add durability. This nail is very flexible and will match the shape and contour of you natural nail without much effort.

Pre-formed type 1-B nail:
This is a great sounding nail that's very durable, which can be used with or without fiberglass wrap; usually doesn't need it. This nail has really good diversity of tone, with crisp highs, as well as a rich, mellow tone. It's a bit more difficult to apply than our type 1-A nail, but it doesn't take too long to get it down. This is a thicker, and less flexible the nail than our 1-A. It's important that it fits the shape and contour of your natural nail before application. If you need to cut or bend it in order to pre-shape and match your natural nail, then you should do so. It should fit well and match your natural nail's shape when just laying on top of the natural nail (dry fitting) before application.

Pre-formed type 2-A nail:
This is a clear nail with a lot of flexibility. Very easy to apply and sounds great. Can be used with or without fiberglass wrap. Because of the clarity and flexibility of this nail, application goes very quick.

The FX1 and FX2. (The Monster and Monster jr).
These are simply the widest and thickest pre-formed nails we could find. The FX1 makes a great thumbnail, and the FX2 makes an extremely strong nail for the fingers. No wrap needed with these nails. It's suggested that you use the "well" part of this nail to fit over your natural nail, and use the "non-well" part as free nail. (The "well" is the part of the pre-formed nail that is the thinner, curved part at the base of the nail). It's important that it fits the shape and contour of your natural nail before application. If you need to cut or bend it in order to pre-shape and match your natural nail, then you should do so. It should fit well and match your natural nail's shape when just laying on top of the natural nail (dry fiitting) before application.


On tone, response and durability

The angle in which you first apply a nail has a great deal to do with the final tone you'll achieve. Rule of thumb is to always apply a nail as straight as possible with no gap at the front of the nail. This will give you a pretty standard result. You may decide from here, in the future, to apply the nail with a bit steeper or less steeper angle depending on your own nail characteristics and personal tastes. Filing your nails is also important for adjusting tone and response. When you file your nails, make sure to file the fingernail to remove any hooking or downward tendencies of the nail. especially on the thumb side of the nail. By doing so, will allow the finger and nail to glide off the string without the nail catching or prematurely hitting the left (thumb) side of the nail. End result will be better response, playability, and crisper highs. It's best to start filing while the nail is still a bit longer than desired to get the proper flat plane, then file for length. After you experiment along these lines for a while, you can actually adjust your tone a bit by adjusting slightly one way or the other how you file. Another thing to keep in mind is that removing or adding material (glue, wrap, natural nail, etc.) can effect your tone. If you get nail glue under your nail, or have excess natural nail, it can be tapered or removed with a rotary nail file (highly recommended) and an under the nail bit. This reduces bulk and will add highs to your tone. It's also important when first applying a nail to make sure it's applied symmetrically so that one side of the nail is not higher than the the other. Always file the tip of the nail so that it has a blunt edge when you're done filing. As a last step, use a fine grit file or sandpaper, and blunt the edge at the tip of the nail. Then burnish the nail, again flush at the tip, with the back of our sandpaper or any smooth cardboard. This will make the nail more durable, and less likely to crack or chip.
If you have too thin of a sound, the first technique you should use to remedy this is by adding glue at the front tip of the nail where the GuitarPlayerNail and the natural nail meet underneath. Fill in any small gap that may be there. To do this, cut a pipette at a bit of an angle, (like a syringe needle), and then backfill at the border under the nail where they meet. Make sure there's glue in the stem of the pipette before application, and only apply a minute amount. If you do apply too much glue, this is a great time to have a rotary nail file with an under the nail bit, as you can remove any excess glue, and clean up under the nail in just a few seconds. You can also use the tip of an emery board file. If your sound is still too thin, you can add some glue and fiberglass wrap (or glue alone) to the top of the nail, and then spray with some nail glue dryer. (You can do this without any nail glue dryer, but it can take a little longer for the glue to dry compared to using the dryer).
Of course the most important aspect of the thumb is to have a good "left corner", as this is the prominent area of the thumbnail that strikes the string. When applying a thumbnail make sure to apply it so that it covers the left side of the nail plate fully. You should also get the best results by applying the thumbnail straight, following the contour of the nail. (No tenting in the middle).n, with guitar in hand, carefully file the left side until you get that perfect sound and feel.

Using a rotary nail file

Rotary nail files are very useful, and are highly recommended. If you're at all serious about playing the guitar, and do any type of finger style playing, just get one. Even if you use your natural nails, if you have to repair one using fingernail glue, they're a great tool to have. They're great for tapering the seam of the GuitarPlayerNail, filing off an old nail, and for use underneath the nail. With a rotary file you can monitor what you're filing, while you're doing so. They're very precise. Rotary files are not used for final shaping or finishing of the nail.
When using a rotary nail file, always take some time to get used to the bits that you are using. Let the file do the work by using a very light touch, and by exerting little or no pressure on the nail. Use good lighting when using a rotary nail file. When tapering the seam of a GuitarPlayerNail, you should always file in the direction away from the tip of the nail, (towards your knuckle), front to back. When filing from side to side while tapering, you should start at the left side of the nail (right handed guitarists), filing with a slight angling toward the back. Tapering the far left corner of the nail should be filed almost straight front to back. Basic idea is to file away from the seam at the middle of the nail where the GuitarPlayerNail meets the natural nail. Always plant your left thumb against the finger you're filing for stability as you file. (You can watch a video clip of this from our instructional video here).
When filing off an old GuitarPlayerNail, you should first clip the tip off even with the natural nail, then file off the old nail. Using a rotary file for this purpose can build up heat friction, so move the bit around to different areas as you file the old nail. Use good lighting and take your time, shouldn't take more than a minute or two to remove the old nail.
If you remove too much natural nail and make your nail too thin, you should always build up the nail a bit before applying a new nail. Any time you remove a nail you should check for this. If your natural nail is at all sensitive, build it up a bit before applying a new nail. This only takes a few seconds. Best way to build up a nail is to apply some nail glue evenly over the nail, and then spray with some nail glue dryer. Takes about 10 seconds. If you use a thinner nail glue, apply thin layers at a time as it will build up more heat than the more viscous nail glues. Please wash and buff the nail before applying a new nail, as the nail glue dryer will continue to work, and will dry too fast when you apply the new nail.
When removing excess glue or excess natural nail from under the nail with an under the nail bit, use the side of the bit as well as the tip. Use a slow speed. Good quality rotary files that have variable speed are the best. That's usually all you need to do a great job under the nail. Use good lighting, go slow, and take your time. It should only take a few seconds. The benefits in tone and feel are well worth filing under the nail.

On Safety

We've been doing this for about 30 years now, with several thousand guitarists using our nails. If you follow our instructions, they are 100% safe to use on a daily basis. There are a number of reasons why using our nails is very safe. First of all, you're applying them to only 1/2 to 3/4 your nail plate. The back part of your nail is always free. All of our fingernails are either clear or translucent, so you can see what's going on under the nail. This makes it very easy to see that you are sealing the nail during application, and that it remains so while in use. Another reason our nails are safe is that you apply them yourself. You use your own nail files and clippers etc. and, as rare as it is, there is no chance of any nail technician cross contaminating because of bad sanitary habits. Anyone who says fingernail glue is bad for you either has a vested interest in saying so, is drinking it, or isn't using it correctly. Using nail glue is simply the best way to apply fingernails. Millions of people use nail glue with artificial nails everyday with no problems. Ours are very safe. And remember, your nails are always growing. There will always be new nail.


Here's a few simple things you can do to help you maintain GuitarPlayerNails. You should always have some 1500 grit sandpaper with you to file the tip and surrounding areas of the nail if it should get roughed up. In case a nail should start to lift up a bit, you should always have some super glue around to instantly glue it down. Always keep artificial nails sealed at all times. Never let them fall off on their own. Either remove them when it's time to do so, or keep them on and sealed. A rotary nail file is very much recommended for maintaining any artificial nail. The precision of a rotary nail file makes quick work of repairing, patching, working underneath, and tapering the nail. Usually any maintenance that is needed will take only a minute or two with the proper knowledge and tools.

This technique works well for natural and artificial nails. If you get a crack in a nail, the best way to repair it is with some fiberglass wrap, and a good quality thin nail glue. Cut a piece of wrap so that it covers the crack and extends out to the sides a bit. Apply the wrap, and then dispense glue. Use two or three layers of wrap. Cover the wrap well with the glue, but not so much that it pools. By only adding glue just to where it's needed, you can get a lot of strength in the repair without taking away tone. Using wrap with glue dries and sets pretty fast.


n-Butyl-cyanoacrylate glue

This is the same type cyanoacrylate glue that veterinarians use for sutures. It's very different from other types of nail glue. Used correctly, it makes a great, durable fingernail glue. It's very thin, wicks very well, and has no irritating odors. This glue is also less brittle than regular nail glues, so it works great for fingernails. When using n-Butyl to apply nails, apply sparingly. Put a small drop at the center of your nail plate, and the glue will spread out as the nail is applied. Then you can wick in (back fill) any more glue as needed. See a clip of back filling here. When using n-Butyl with wrap, add just enough to cover the fibers completely without pooling. Let dry, (dries quickly) then add more glue if desired. For quicker setting, you can spray with a bit of Nail Glue Dryer. We recommend our n-Butyl glue for applying our pre-formed nails, and for use with, or without wrap for strengthening natural nails. It works great as a fingernail protector because it's less brittle, and it doesn't make the underlying nail brittle. For applying our Instant Nail Strips, we recommend using our regular fingernail glue. (Ethyl cyanoacrylate).
It's very important to wipe the top of the bottle thoroughly after use, as it will stick the cap to the bottle if you don't. It's best to store this glue upright, in a cup or small glass. And if you want to travel with it, put some into some pipettes, and you can put those in a small plastic bag. If the nail lifts at all along the edge, simply add a bit more glue. This glue will wick under the nail very easily, and make a tight bond. Add a bit more glue around the edge and spray with some nail glue dryer if desired.

Super Glue Tips

If you're going to be using any nail glue dryer (accelerator), make sure that the original bottle of super glue is capped, and put away, far from where you're using the nail glue dryer. Super glue is not bad for your nails if used correctly. It's what "Fingernail Glue" is. It's been used for this purpose for many years. It's not perfect, but currently it's the best glue for fingernails. Super glue is non toxic. You don't want to breathe in excessive fumes, but for nails you're using such a small amount, this is usually not a problem. They used to use super glue for medical stitches in the exact same form that you can buy right off the shelf. It actually has antibiotic properties. Nowadays they use a slightly different form of CA (cyanoacrylate) for medical stitches. Super glue does have its idiosyncrasies, but if you're aware of what they are, they're easy to overcome and remedy. One of these is, over time, applied super glue can get brittle. If you use it on your nails, natural or artificial, and you run your fingernail into a wall, or bend it suddenly, you can get a "stress fracture" running through your nail. If this occurs, it's very easy to remedy, and should be fixed as soon as possible. A quick remedy, which takes only a few seconds, is the put some fiberglass wrap and a bit more super glue over the area and spray with some nail glue dryer. That usually lasts quite a while.
When using fingernail glue (super glue), you need to be aware of the condition of your nails on a daily basis. That's part of the maintenance. Any cracks, lifting, or weak areas should be fixed. The good news is that it usually takes only a few seconds to fix anything that should come up. Repaired nails usually aren't as durable as nails in good condition, so it's a good idea when you have a few minutes, to remove the old nail and apply a new one. Once you gain a bit of experience it takes only a few minutes to remove and replace a nail. Fingernail glue is not perfect. But if you learn to use it wisely, it works really well for all sorts of applications.
Keep your nail glue bottles in a cool place that won't be exposed to direct sunlight and store away from accelerators, (nail glue dryers).

Nail Files

If you're using an emery board type file that has a sharp edge along the side, you can take another rough grit file and file down the sharp edge of the file you'll be using on your nails. Sometimes when filing a fingernail, the underside of the file can inadvertently cut into the pad of your finger underneath the nail. This can be pretty painful and keep you from playing for a day or two. Just a little tip on how to avoid this.

If you have any questions, or if any problems come up that you can't remedy, please give us a call at (209) 295-4969 or e-mail us. We're here to help!