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Nails - Fingernail care

Protecting the surface of finger nails
The nail surface WILL wear when playing rasgueados. Protect the surface by applying a thin layer of nail lacquer, such as Cutex "Strongnail" to the top part of the nail only. Putting anything on the bottom half of the living nail is just asking for trouble. This will deprive it of oxygen and make it soft.


Then it takes ages to grow out strong again. Simply applying the lacquer, blowing it dry and using it within 5 minutes is not really good enough. It may look and feel dry, but it’s still soft and the sound will be soft too. For best results, apply it in the evening and let it properly harden overnight. Some people also like to press a layer of tissue paper into the glue while it’s still wet to make it stronger. Depending on your needs, you may want to apply several coats. File the edges to suit, making sure the top nail surface is seamless where the real nail surface meets the edge of the protective coat. The last thing you want is to hook on this. Some people prefer to use superglue, but use this mainly on the dead part of the nail tip. To help prevent the superglue from cracking, apply a a thin coat of superglue, then press a layer of tissue paper onto this so the glue is absorbed into the paper. Finally apply another thin layer of superglue on the top. It's brittle stuff and can be very messy if you're not careful with it. The advantage of superglue is that you get a hard surface in a few minutes.

Here's a tip. Don't use the superglue sold in supermarkets. Get the really fine stuff from the cosmetics section in a good department store. If you thought the supermarket variety was cool, wait till you try the good stuff. If you manage to get your fingers stuck together, you'll be sorry. It glues anything instantly on contact and unlike the cheap supermarket stuff, it flows and spreads easily. I advise you to also throw some nail polish remover in your shopping basket just in case.

As a general preventive measure for nails that are prone to cracking, peeling or splitting you may want to rub olive oil onto your nail surface.

I've had my share of broken and split nails.
These days I don't put anything on my nails. I am lucky enough to have reasonably strong, natural nails. But when you're playing flamenco for hours every day in dance classes, teaching, practicing at home, rehearsals and performances, little accidents can and do occur. What do you do when you a have a well paid gig to do tonight and your thumbnail breaks off in rehearsal. Canceling the gig is not an option because some pissed off dancing girls who invited their whole family to the show might seriously consider killing you. So you have to do something about repairing the nail somehow. Life is so cruel when this shit happens and all you want to do is go fishing.

Repairing split nails
1. Always carry a basic repair kit in your guitar case. Nail clippers, emery boards, buffers, superglue (the good stuff) and a ping pong ball. The easiest way to make a quick repair is to cut a piece of your ping pong ball and stick it on with superglue. Then carefully shape the sharp edges with so there is no hooking anywhere. I also carried a scalpel or some other sort of sharp blade. I used this to carefully scrape the sharp edge so I got a smooth transition between plastic and nail on the top nail surface. The aim is to NOT scrape anything off your real nail. You can use fine emery paper to polish the surface.

2. Use superglue with a layer (or layers) of tissue paper.

3. An alternative to tissue paper that is much stronger is a piece of woven fiberglass sheet. We're not talking about industrial fiberglass. We are only repairing a spilt nail, not building a surfboard. Very thin sheets of fiberglass are available as cosmetic nail accessories and can be cut to size with a scissors.

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Rafael Marin - Free flamenco guitar method 
Rafael Marin
Flamenco guitar method 1902