mc_carthy_webWe’ve stumbled on a little piece of business that may cause some of your students’ eyes to widen: nail shaping. Yes, that’s what helps you achieve optimal tone when playing finger-style. (And remember: finger-style playing isn’t just for acoustic guitars.)

Don’t let gender norms get in the way; you may have some students — and they *might* be male — who balk at the suggestion of a “manicure” to play the guitar better. Well, you can remind them that many of their guitar heroes did some kind of nail maintenance, and that if they want to sink their own mits into the Rockwalk, they should consider doing their nails.

Here’s a nice little primer on nail maintenance including how your nails affect the sound of the instrument, and offering solutions for damage. But sanding your nails (or Super Gluing them as Clapton is rumored to have done) isn’t the only consideration when it comes to improving your technique. Lastly, different guitarists might use different ratios of finger to fingernail in order to achieve the fullest sound, so work with your students to experiment and get there.

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