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. Some people find it easier to start with the pre-formed nails, and then once they get the hang of it, 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. The Instant Nail ll is a good nail to start with. Then try the others. 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 dozens of pre-formed nails. The pre-formed nails we currently carry have the best tone and feel of all the nails we've tried, with good durability. A major advantage to using our pre-formed nails is that they're very easy to work with. 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 about three 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 thin nail glue and some nail glue dryer in about 10 seconds. If you have the time, and it's not an emegency, add wrap first. Repairs hold very well. If a nail is too wide, simply trim the side with some scissors to fit your nail plate. You only need to trim the right side of the nail, (pinky side) and it takes only a few seconds. 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. Because of the flexibility of these nails, you may not find that necessary. You can also increase the curve by using our manicure stick and rolling it back and forth. (See Step 5 of our Instructions).
If you have a natural nail that's a bit too wide for our nails, just make sure that the right side of the nail is the short side. (Pinky side). Make sure the left border of your natural nail is in line with the left edge of the pre-formed nail. 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. 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 depending on where you play and angle of attack. You can add some silk wrap to the pre-formed nails for extra strength. We recommend using wrap with the pre-formed nails.
On tone and response
Filing your nails is the first step to 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. Another thing to keep in mind for proper feel, is that if you get any "tenting", it will dull your tone. It's ok that the nail slopes at the sides, but make sure that when you apply the nail, that you follow the contour of the top of the nail wth no gaps at the tip.
A very important benefit you get from using our nails is that you can adjust the tone and feel after application. You can do so by bending the nail a bit into different configurations. Experiment. If you want more highs, try bending down the nail, or just bend down toward the pinky side of the nail. Bend at the base of the nail, or just the tip of the nail. Bend up the thumb side of the nail so that the middle of the nail will contact the string first, this will add highs to your tone. Notice the different feel and tone you get by bending different areas of the nail. Be observant. You can also flatten out the nail so that it is straighter. This can add clarity and diversity to your tone by compensating for the steeper angle that a false nail inherently has, or if you applied the nail at too steep of an angle. To do this, you can either use some small needle nose pliers, or you can use your teeth. The whole idea is to straighten the nail out a bit, and create a little "step". After that, feel free to adjust the nail as necessary by bending different parts of the nail. Our Instant Nail strips work best for adjusting tone, as they are not as prone to as much fatigue as the pre-formed nails are, although they too can be adjusted.
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 silk 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 several minutes for the glue to dry compared to a few seconds using the dryer). You will get less brittleness with the Instant Nail ll and the "CR", if you leave the tip of the nail free of glue, and add the glue and wrap behind the playing tip for more rigidity. If you do want to cover the nail tip, make sure you use enough glue to overcome the brittleness nail glue creates.
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).Then, 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 fingerstyle 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. (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 brush on nail glue, (or any viscous nail glue) spread it 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 with 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 this action.
We've been doing this for well over a decade 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 toxic 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.
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.
Repairing a nail
If you get a crack in a nail, the best way to repair it is with some silk wrap, and a good quality thin nail glue. (Thinner glues are strongest). Our Bond Tite nail glue and silk wrap work great for this. Cut a piece of wrap so that it covers the crack and extends out to the sides a bit. Apply the wrap and glue, and then spray with some nail glue dryer. After spraying, for added strength, add a bit more glue over just the crack. In less than a minute you're done. (If you don't use the dryer, it can take several minutes to dry). By only adding glue just to where it's needed, you can get a lot of strength in the repair without taking away tone. This technique works well for repairs to natural nails too.
Super Glue Tips
To test if your super glue is old, simply dispense a drop from some height, and watch it to see if it's at all "stringy". If so, it's old. Get some new glue. ( This test is for thin glues). 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, of course, 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. Super glue is not perfect. But if you learn to use it wisely, it works really well for all sorts of fingernail applications.
Keep your nail glue bottles in a cool place that won't be exposed to direct sunlight and store away from bottles of accelerators.
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!