Keep yor nails ready and in good shape
Nails are the main tool for guitarists to play their instrument. That’s why is as important to take care of them as tune your guitar properly or keep it in the correct levels of humidity. Being an extension of the fingers, the lenght and the shape of the nails are as personal as the style of the guitarist, so there are no rules defined.
For the care, there are more specific advice. “You have to file and polish the nails, but never cut them, or they can crack. you can use a thick grain file and a lighter one for the finish”, sais Carlos Orellana, luthier at MR Guitars and Flamenco player. He also recomends a diet rich in calcium and vitamin A, B9 and B12.
But of course, to play for several hours, it is very likely that the nails won’t bear the aggresive playing. That is the reason why a lot of guitarists resort to artificial nails or other products to reinforce the nails. “If you play a long show or play in a Flamenco party for 3 or 4 hours, there is no nails that bear that. You cannot take the chance of brake a nail in the middle of the performance, so you have to reinforce them. Of everything I tried, acrylic gel is the most similar to the natural nail, more than porcelain or plastic”, sais Orellana.
This acrylic gel treatment is easy to find in a lot of specialiced manicure shops. They aply several layers over the nail and file it and polish it the same way of the natural one, and lasts easily for two months. “It is very resistant and less aggresive rather than other techniques that people used to do several years ago. I have seen guitarists stick paper napkins or rolling paper to the naisl with Super Glue to endure”, sais the luthier.