When to do Nail Care

I’ve written before about fingernails. Another fingernail open thread generated some outstanding advice for readers.

When nail care is done seems trivial, but it can have a huge effect on playing and your practice day.

When NOT to file your nails

In the middle of the practice day. Don’t file your nails in the middle of a practice day. A little smoothing of the edges with sandpaper or something similar is okay (micro mesh pads make this easy), but try to avoid reshaping mid-day.

Over the past few years, I’ve found that shaping my nails either (1) the night before or (2) before starting to practice gives the best results. Shaping mid-day makes me feel like I’m starting all over again, and I have to get used to a new instrument before I can really start practicing again.

Take care of your nails before you start practicing for the day. Just a simple thought to make your guitar-life a bit easier!

Posted on in Classical Guitar Fingernails


  • Chuck Connors
    Chuck Connors

    On Nails.

    This post may go better with the prior thread, but that seems to be over now

    I struggled with weak and broken nails for 20 years. In that time I used every technique ever espoused. Onymyrrh, vitamins. supplements, even Rico Nails. What made me keep trying was everyones ABSOLUTE certainty that if I only persevered with “x” I would soon have a complete set of proper nails.. When each technique failed, the teachers and proprietors of these techniques always seemed disappointed in me, as though I didn’t do it correctly or long enough. And so on, for 20 years.

    Rico Nails worked OK, but for me they were a hassle to take on and off. But using them made me more open to fake nails. Here in Hawaii, I began to notice many of the performers around here also use fake nails, quite long in some instances. Finally I bit the bullet and walked into a Nail Shop, closed my eyes, and said ‘do me”.

    What I didn’t realize was how my guitar technique, especially the sound, had suffered for not having a consistent set of nails. Once I got them shaped the way I like, my ability began to just explode. All that pent up ability just waiting for a way to express, I guess.

    What I’m trying to express is that in the guitar world, nail techniques become a religious passion. And that can keep people from wanting to ‘lower’ themselves to what will actually work. I wish I had not wasted such a long time trying to get the perfect natural nail. The nails I use are very strong, I can do yard work in them, and only require the occasional upkeep from the salon, for about $20. Everyone has noticed how much better I play, I’m getting much wider ranges of dynamics, my attack is punctuated, my runs are quicker.

    Guitarists, do your best for a couple of years. Then go get the fake nails from the Salon. Don’t let people tell you that this is an imperfect solution.

  • Saei

    hi chuck, you mean that religious passion make people away from what they want and what they are?
    and about you Christopher, thanks for this article, actually i do some thing like you, i work on my nail at night and after that i tested them on guitar and then i fall sleep, at morning i can play really good, i think the time between night and morning lets them to be better

  • Chuck Connors
    Chuck Connors


    Yes, in this case that’s what happened to me. But that doesn’t mean actual religious passion is a bad thing. It was a metaphor. The people who made me feel like I wasn’t trying hard enough never considered that it might be possible that my nails would never recover. They took on faith that their way would always work, and I allowed myself to get sucked up in it for 20 years. It’s my bad, I suppose. Just hoping to raise some awareness for other CG players and teachers.