ATTN: Fingerpickers who roll

How the fuck do you keep your fingernails from breaking or severely bending when you roll? I want to start rolling again and I hate steel finger picks so I want to keep my nails, but I'm worried about them getting fucked up.

It's difficult. You have to find a balance of long enough to play but short enough to roll, & maintain it EVERY DAY.

I found that the better I got at rolling, the more relaxed I was & the less likely for injury just in general, including nails.

A huge help that every fingerstylist should know about, but many don't, is 500 weight sandpaper - the kind that modellers use on plastics. It's gray. After you cut your nails, buff the edges with the sandpaper & they'll almost never break no matter what you do to them, since there's no place for the stress fracture to take root. Mechanical power of the arch & all that.

You can get it at hobby shops where they sell models & trains.

Very good advice. I hate long nails myself, but they are a necessity depending on your style. I keep mine very short so if you look straight at the palm of your hand the tips are just visible. I use a fine every board, but the pros do what BLAD recommends. Another thing I like to do is do have them angled so (looking at your palm) the right side is short and the left side of the nail arches above the fingertip. This works for me, but its likely not proper.

I would seriously just throw out the emory board. It's so much easier using sandpaper; you don't even have to look at what you're doing. It's like washing your hands - just rub it around. A regular sized sheet should last you 6 months to a year & you get 5 or 10 to a pack for about the same price as the board.

Although I'm not posting this to chide you; I just noticed that I forgot to mention if you go to a regular hardware store, they usually only have wet paper in 500 weight, & DO NOT get that.

Wet paper is flat black & useless to you. You want the stuff that looks kinda like grey desert camouflage.

I pick only using the index finger and thumb. You don't have to have long fingernails to get a great sound. I have developed a callous on the part of my thumb that picks, and it sounds fine without a nail. It also allows you to slip your thumb under the string for snapping, which is a cool sound that would be more difficult with a long nail.

The index finger is kept normal. I'm lucky in that I slammed my index finger in a car door when I was a kid and it grew back really thick. It's normal length, but I can use it for added effect if I turn the finger right.

My nails are the same length as with my fretting hand - I keep them all filed down to the quick.

I also play bass, and long fingernails are not good for that.

Depending on the song and style, I alternate between what DasBeaver and Tourist are doing. I tried the nails at one point but it felt really creepy. Also, the nails changed the angles of my attack and my guitar felt totally alien to me.

You don't need long nails to fingerpick but you will definitely grow some pretty funky callouses.

I find when I forget to trim my fingerstyle is a lot easier, there is something to the nails. I have a few pages from a book called 'pumping nylon' that talks in exhausting detail about nails if anybody is interested.

Thanks foor the advice BLAD, the last time I bought sandpaper I got the finest stuff they had from the hardware store and it demolished everything. On a side note, I'm not sure what you're doing these days but have you ever worked wiring home a/v installations?