Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Manicure virgin no more!

"Guitar: An American Life" by Tim Brookes contains a hilarious-because-its-true quip about how guys start playing guitar in their teens to be cool and impress girls, and they end up in their 40s with expensive guitars, discussing nail care with other middle-aged men. Let's just say that yesterday afternoon, I took the next step towards this inspiring scenario.

Many very accomplished and respectable guitarists (including Pierre Bensusan, Tony McManus, and Martin Simpson to name a few) use some kind of fake nails on their right (picking) hand. Pierre tells the story, on his instructional videos, of how he went to see a manicurist in Paris after years of messing around with broken nails, superglue, finger picks and other re-inforcement strategies. So I am in good company. Really.

Yesterday I sheepishly walked into a little nail salon not too far from my apartment and explained how I wanted acrylic nails, not too long, no color, oh, and by the way, only on my right hand. Add to this story a very well meaning but heavily-accented non-native-English speaking Asian woman with a wide assortment of tools and chemicals. So, I sat while she filed (quite vigorously at times: "Gentle! It's my first time!"), treated, sculpted, dremeled, trimmed, ... you get the idea. The result afterwards was an odd exhilaration (ha! I finally did it! I feel so alive!), and a sensation not entirely unlike the one you get after visiting the dentist (this part of my body feels sore and oddly foreign to me).

I came home fearing the worst and was pleasantly surprised that my playing was only minimally affected (perhaps even improved -- I feel it is much easier now to play loudly). After sleeping on it (well, not on it...) it is beginning to feel a bit less sore and weird. Overall, I think this experiment is a success... so far.

Oh, yeah and it only cost me $30. And I have to go back in 2-3 weeks from now to have my nails maintained to the tune of who knows how much.

Things are going well for the concert this weekend. I am practicing around 2 hours every day, each song for about 20 minutes. And I am re-reading "The Perfect Wrong Note" by William Westney. Anyone who is serious about advancing on their instrument needs to read this book.


Anonymous said...

This is so, so funny! I read it aloud to Dan and John Sammons. I have yet to get a professional manicure myself. Maybe I should start playing guitar first?

We are so sorry that we'll miss your concert. After planning on going (without looking at the calendar) we found out that we are going to a wedding this weekend in PA. Keep us posted on upcoming concerts!


How To Guitar Tune said...

I always wondered about finger-picking and guitarists who use fake nails for that purpose. This was pretty informative, but very funny too. Glad you got some courage to do it!