I recently experienced an unfortunate fingernail ‘accident’. My hand slipped while closing a window and as a result the tip of my ‘i’ (index) fingernail broke clean off and most of my ’a’ (annular) fingernail was torn off. It was not a good feeling knowing I had a CD launch concert to prepare for in a month’s time.

Remarkably though, and to my relief, after some careful nail re-shaping with a nail file and polishing, the ‘i’ finger was still useable and producing a nice sound from the guitar. Rescuing the ‘a’ fingernail was not so easy. I considered using Superglue to stick the ‘a’ fingernail down but remembered that the glue is best avoided as it can damage the nail bed.  You can also easily stick your fingers together if not careful enough! Instead, to stop the nail tearing off completely I stuck a piece of sticky tape over the fingernail. It lasted a day but eventually the tape came off and so did most of the nail end. There was just a tiny piece of the playing edge remaining - a bit like a tooth pick and no good for playing the classical guitar.

The problem reminded me of solutions that some people have tried such as shaping a piece of pingpong ball and supergluing it on.  Salon fitted false nails were expensive and worked reasonably well but you had to accept that eventually they grow out and come apart.  The nail bed would be damaged and take time to recover.

It was while considering the option of waiting for the nail to grow back, knowing it could take a month or two for it to be fully restored, that a friend suggested I try Riconails. Before I continue, I hasten to add that this is in no way a promotion on behalf of the manufacturer! I was at first sceptical when reading claims that the latest false fingernails could be as good as, if not better than a person’s naturally grown nails. The fingertips are so sensitive, it seemed impossible that a false nail could possibly work at all like the real thing. However, I was curious and under the circumstances it seemed worth a try. The key thing that sold the false nails to me is the fact they can be fitted and removed easily without damaging the real fingernail.

A couple of weeks later I received delivery of the Riconails ‘Emergency Repair Kit’. After spending time understanding the instructions, carefully shaping a new ‘a’ fingernail as close as possible to the shape of my own nail then fitting it to my ‘a’ finger, I tried it out. To my complete surprise, the result was a revelation. The sound of my new fingernail was indeed as good as my natural nail sound and arguably better. It was definitely louder and easier to produce a consistent sound. This sounds like an endorsement of Riconails but I can safely say that I will be happy to use them again.  I am sure that other similar false nail kits available today are likely to do as good a job.  It's up to the individual to find out which they prefer.  I can fully appreciate why some players would prefer to use modern false nails designed for classical guitarists instead of their natural nails, especially if there is difficulty growing them successfully for guitar playing.

As it turned out, I didn’t need to use the false nail for my CD launch performance because my natural nail grew back just in time. There were still some imperfections but the nail was good enough for a convincing performance. Given the choice I still prefer using my natural nails. They work well for me and I’d rather not have the hassle of fitting false nails. However, it is such a relief to know that there is a viable option available in case of nail breakages ahead of a concert.

If I had difficulty growing fingernails, I would certainly be considering the latest false nails on offer. The recent experience with broken nails has taught me a thing or two. I’m more than delighted to find that the days of Superglue, ping pong balls and sticky tape repairs are over!

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