Fingernail Files

Focusing more now on fingernail files: I had mentioned in a previous post to avoid – by all means – the cross-cut type metal files which shred and tear and split the fingernail edge rather than grinding it cleanly. I also mentioned that the traditional emery board type nail filing sticks weren’t quite slender enough to get right up to where the edges of your fingernail meet up with your fingertip (which it actually might, depending on the way your nail grows). I did however mention a better solution.

SAPPHIRE FILES – Inexpensive and Widely Available

I’ve used many brands of the sapphire – or emery-type – metal fingernail files over the last 40 years or so. They are available almost everywhere, and there are many, many brands. As earlier described, they have a rough, almost sandpapery cutting surface, most times with a rougher grit on one side and a smoother grade for finishing, on the other.

I’ve just stuck with Revlon because I don’t usually lose things. Simple as that. I still have the original sapphire Revlon fingernail file I bought in 1978, and though it’s a bit worn, it still works great. I especially like the pointy-tipped files because you can scrape under the protruding nail a bit, bringing out the inevitable curled-down edges caused by initial shaping, before filing them off.

They seem to last forever and are relatively inexpensive, so I usually throw one in the gig-bag (along with a 1-inch square of the 320-grit sandpaper) or into the accessory compartment of the guitar/bass case. If I’ve got a gig where I’m playing just the bass, I make it a point to take along at least the nail file to keep the nails down to an absolute minimum because even a day’s worth of nail growth can cause ‘nail-clicks’ on the strings.

GLASS NAIL FILES – Are They Better?

But there’s another choice now; something I admit I haven’t tried out: the glass (or crystal) nail file.

These, as the name suggests, are made of glass, molded to shape, and with the cutting surfaces etched in using a special acid. Developed in the Czech Republic, they are smoother, with more ‘grit’ close together and are excellent at not shredding or tearing at the nail. Are glass nail files better? I’ll have to try one out someday – though they’re not cheap – just to see how much better they are than the metal ones. I will get one that’s made of tempered glass though (the Czech glass), because of obvious reasons.


Until then though, I’ll stick with what I know, basically because it works – for me. Give the glass/crystal files a try. You could do a search to see which is the best crystal glass nail file on the market and either order one or go to a local pharmacy store and purchase one there. If you do, let me know what you think: it’s an interesting subject.

But…don’t spend too much time experimenting around; use what you can find, then get back to practice!


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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