The idea of guitarists using fine grit sandpaper to smooth the edges of their fingernails is not a new one. Nail care for classical guitarists has always been a subject much discussed amongst guitar students, or between students and teachers down through the decades; usually face to face, passed down person to person.
TOO MANY CHOICES
Nowadays information is incredibly easy to find. Simply do a search on Google, Bing or Yahoo for classical guitar nails or something similar and you’ll find lots of info. Sometimes it’s overwhelming to sort through things online, and you’ll find all sorts of differing techniques and solutions to the same problem.
In my case, I was lucky. I had a teacher who told me about sapphire fingernail files, handed me a piece of 3M 415N 320 grit sandpaper and told me what to do with it. It took 5 minutes. And it worked so well – the solution having come from my teacher’s years of experience – that I simply used it, and have been, since the 1970s.
When a thing works, there’s no need to look any further.
But there have been times when I ran out of that specific sandpaper and had to make do with whatever was around the house. That’s when I realized that all sandpaper is not the same.
For instance, a 3000 grit sandpaper might seem right, but thing is, there’s something about the various coatings used in sandpaper – specific to the jobs they were designed for – that makes them unsuitable for fingernail care. Wet/Dry sandpaper seems to have a coating which, when used dry, gives a tacky/sticky feeling when rubbed over the nail. It’s also almost too fine and doesn’t release the nail residue as you’re sanding.
You have to use what you have, though.
YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY
In my personal experience, the 3M 320 grit sand paper mentioned previously, with its silicon carbide cutting material and open coating, works best. Other guitarists’ experience and suggestions may vary, because everyone’s fingernails are different, grow differently, and are of differing curve and overall shape. As such, preparing them for use in fingerstyle guitar playing will differ.
I’m just passing on info that might save you a bit of time searching and trying out different kinds of sandpaper. I trusted my teacher’s years of experience, which he then passed down to me.
And now, me to you.
If you ever need a hand with something or have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.
Fingers On Strings
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