Monday, 25 January 2010

Nailed It...

Now I'd be the first to admit that I take girlie care of my fingernails, particularly on my right hand (the left hand nails are cut back very short). The reason for this obviously has a lot to do with playing fingerstyle acoustic guitar, but it also has a lot to do with hand position...

Let me explain: my right hand tends to adopt the 'classical position' when I play. This means that my fingers are virtually perpendicular to the strings, whereas a lot of fingerstylists tend to angle their right hands towards the bridge. This means that my fingernails have to be quite long on that hand – I'm not absolutely sure why this is, but you can be sure that I've experimented with all lengths and settled on one. Trouble is, it happens to be the one that leaves the nails most vulnerable to accidental breakage!

Around a week ago, I had another session for my album and spent the day making sure my right hand didn't do anything heavy duty enough to break a nail. About an hour before the session, I noticed that – inexplicably – I'd managed to tear the nail on my middle finger. I still don't know how I managed it because my nails are actually very strong, but whatever... I was in trouble.

Sure, I can play with my fingertips, but if you're in the middle of making an album and want an even consistency of sound over all the tracks, altering your right hand technique temporarily causes more problems than it solves. So I was stuck. In fact, I had to resort to the oldest remedy in the book: glue. A healthy dollop of glue on the nail, hastily dried underneath a lightbulb, got me through the session without further damage (or sonic irregularity) but I have since had to cut the offender down to size.

I'm investigating acrylics as a solution to nail damage as players I know who use them tell me that the nails retain and almost Wolverine level of strength with only a bi- or tri-weekly application. It looks like things are about to get even girlier!