I have some questions regarding “split nails”. For those that may not know this is when the skin splits from under the nail from bending strings.
1-Short of not bending strings of course, how can they be avoided?
2-Do lotions or creams help reduce incidence of?
3-Do they happen more or less at different times of year(temperature related)?
4-Does the skin under the nails in question ever toughen up permanently or is it destined to continue occurring?
I would appreciate anybody’s input regarding their experiences with this situation.
I believe you're referring to separating the nail from the nail bed, correct?
I've done that mildly on a couple of occasions, and it hurts. The only way I've found to avoid it is to:
1. Make sure I'm altering my fingering for bends. Rather than using my very finger tip I pull back slightly so I use a little bit more of the pad. That separation only happens when bending toward your face. When bending downward, it's more of a pulling motion so it's not an issue.
2. I use more than one finger for the bend. When bending I usually use my third finger, and I'll typically put down the first, second, and third, and bend with all three of them. That helps spread the pressure around so there's not so much pull on one finger. If I bend with my second finger, this is not that much of a problem because that finger is stronger.
3. Make sure my nails are cut very, very short most of the time. I started paying attention to my fingernails when I was 9 and playing the violin. These days you usually can't even see any white on my nails. I cut them last Wednesday and there is only now about 0.5mm of white on them. Almost time to cut them again. This helps in may ways when playing, from buzzing, to catching nails on the fingerboard, to pain when fretting notes, and so on.
I'm sure there are other tips, but probably best is to make sure your technique is perfect to prevent that pulling motion because it really, really hurts. I've been there.
For myself, it's been necessary to play short scale guitars detuned a half step to avoid injury. It's commonly done and worth looking into if it's a persistent problem. I still battle tendonitis on occasion and all the rest, careful use of ice after practice can help. . .it's an activity that's hard on the arm.
That's a good question. Maybe. I just keep them really short because I learned to do it more than 30 years ago and now I'm really uncomfortable playing with them too long. I feel the pressure of the nail pushing into my cuticle and I can't concentrate.
I do think, however, that keeping them short will stop them from catching on the board, which will push and pull them all over the place. It's possible that can minimize that separation.
I like the sound and feel of a guitar tuned down a half step but I still want to build my chops in regular tuning. It hasn't been too much of a problem. After a couple of days it heals itself and hopefully the skin will get stronger and less likely to recur. I know Hendrix and SRV tuned down a half step but I suspect it was more for the sound then a split-nail consideration. And I'm not ready for Krazy-Glue!
I thought of another possibilty while driving home last night. The tension on your strings is affected by many things like string height and string diameter.
Thinner strings are easier to bend, of course. Strings which are closer to the fretboard are MUCH easier to bend as well.
These two factors are worthwhile to consider. What size strings do you have and how is your guitar set up?
Yes, they are. I was taught that by my violin instructor in my 4th year and I've never been comfortable with longer nails. If I had showed you the before you would have thought they looked normal but that was after 10 days' growth. :D
I have found that if I let them grow much longer than two weeks beyond the state in that picture, I feel the pressure in my finger joints and I can't concentrate. I am focusing on having my finger tips on the board rather than the pads, and I just can't do that comfortably with longer nails.