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I am a fingerstyle player for 50 yrs. I don't use thumb or fingerpicks, play with my bare hands and nails (steel strung guitar). The problem is frail nails. I have tried a number of products to harden my nails with very little success. Would be greatful, if anybady could give me good advice. Is there a product which could really make your nails stonger.

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I play the same way and had the same problems. I tried stuff like "Hard As Nails" but nothing seemed to work. (I have very pronounced ridges along the length of my nails and they split right along them without fail.)

Then a few years ago I decided to walk into a nail salon and get my three picking fingers coated with acrylic. (Note that I did not have nails glued on...I simply had my natural nails coated. No polish, either.) It freed up my playing and I was able to play with confidence. Best thing I ever did. You'll have to go in and have them "filled in" every few weeks as your nails grow. You can file and shape them between visits. Costs about 10 or 11 bucks and takes maybe 15 minutes. I ask for "gel" rather than whatever the "normal" stuff is. I find that the normal stuff turns yellow if you spend a lot of time outdoors. (Of course, if you're gonna paint 'em then it makes no difference!)


Thanks for the advice. I'll look if we have the same service here in Finland.


I have the same issues - I don't used picks of any kind, and use steel strings.  There is a product you can buy retail called "Nail Envy" that works pretty well - the only problem I find with it is that while it makes your nails harder, they then tend to crack at some point and break off eventually.  I've been told that there is a new product you can get put on your nails - it is shellac - it's not a fake acrylic nail, nor an acrylic coating, but a new shellac product that they paint on over your real nails to make them super hard.  They say it provides a hard protective finish, but does not feel thick or heavy. Also, you don't have to have them "filled in" every few weeks - they just remove it and re-apply the shellac.    I'm thinking of trying it - at least on my right hand...  Hope this helps.


    I guess everyone is different, but I had the same problem.   I use Nail Envy (matte finish!).   I have to apply every 2-3 days,  and then after about a week you take it all off and start over.  I also use Avoplex nail & cuticle replenisher, and I use Equaline "strengthening nail polish remover" when I have to take off the Nail Envy.   

I have frail nails and I have ridges.  This works well for me!   I think I ordered everything from      

Hi Harry,

I just got the acrylic overlays yesterday!!. I have tried soooo many products from

Diamond coat to Hard as Nails etc. and the problem is that I really USE my hands. I have taught woodworking and

am in the middle of ongoing home reno's and (as a woman) i truly have researched all the nail polish-like solutions and

they only help a little. One good session of finger-picking (upstroke) and strumming (downstroke) and the wear is
pretty evident.  I broke down and did the overlays yesterday afternoon and have been playing HARD yesterday evening
and today and I DON'T SEE ANY WEAR AT ALL!!!!! I wish I had done it sooner is all I can say.

In all honesty I can't say how i feel about it in several months time but right now I am loving it!

You also can get a kit call Nailene which has the overlays plus the powder/ solvent solution for 'maintaining' but I wanted to see how the professionals did it first is a 'process' .

Good luck with your decision.


Hi, Harry!

Maybe this suggestion causes you some fears, but I use superglue. Choose the small flasks with a little brush, and use it as if it was nail varnish. You don't have to paint the whole nail, just the 5 or 6 millimeters near the edge. It's harmless, I've been using it for the last ten years or so, and there's nothing wrong with my nails. Paint 4 or 5 layers, then pass a very high grade sandpaper or, better, buff the nails with a ladies manicure nail buffer, the kind you can find at a supermarket. The four layers of superglue will double the thickness of your nails, and superglue dries harder than the nail. Because the nail gets thicker, you will get a softer tone (just the same way a thick plectrum gives you a mellower tone) with remarkable volume increase. Superglue will last for about ten days, then it will start to crack and you can easily remove it, let the nails rest for one day or so, then start again. It's completely harmless (remember: nails are dead tissue), cheap, and very reliable. And very effective, too: your nails won't break, period

If you care to have a look at my page, there you'll see me playing Portuguese guitar in some videos. Portuguese guitars are very demanding to your nails, and most players use artificial fingernails to play them. But superglue does the job much better... I play with my own nails, coated with superglue...

Thanks for the tip, I'll try that. You also asked about my 10 string mandolins. I have 2 of them. One Fylde and another Paul Shippey. Both have about 400 mm scale (a little longer trhan the standard mandolin) an the tuning is: e, a, d, g ,c. So I have an mandolin and mandola in the same instrument.


I'm about trying your superglue trick on my nails. What do you clean the superglue off with?




The only kind of superglue I use is the LIQUID one. It comes in small flasks, with a brush, just like ladies' nail varnish. I spread a thin layer and let dry, then I spread another layer, & so on. Layers should be very thin, but, after 3 or 4  layers, they double the thickness of the nail.  I then  file, finish and buff with a 6-way micromesh manicure nail buffer.

Superglue sticks to the nail for 5 to 10 days, depending on how well you did the job and on the condition of the glue (every time you open the glue flask, the glue loses strength but, if you keep it in the fridge, it will last longer). Fresh glue will last longer then old glue. Anyway, the day will come when the glue will break away from the nail. Then you may remove the parts that are still adhering to the nail by simply scratching them - they will unglue without harming the nail. I usually wait one day before  spreading new layers of superglue.

Loctite sells a glue remover, but I never used it on my nails. I simply wait for the glue to break away from the nail.

I usually put new superglue two days before a public performance in order to make sure everything is in good condition when it's showtime...


Thank you, I'm going to give it a try>


OK, Please let me know what you think of this "recipe"....

Did it work?


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