AsturiasFan wrote:The basic problem that the technique is supposed to correct are nails that are too acutely contoured. Scratching the nail on sandpaper like one is playing can indeed make indeed make things worse because the excessive contour may start somewhat away from the left edge.You easily file away the far left edge where there is the most pressure. This makes the contour even more excessive with disastrous results. So the location of the excessive contour can make a difference in whether the technique improves contour or destroys it. If you have a small hump (point of excessive increase in slope) that needs to be flattened it doesn't make sense to file the good flat parts and there is no guarantee that this method doesn't file the good flat parts.
I can easily see how the excessive wear of the left edge can happen, but I think that could be related to you having decided on a nail shape you want, and then trying to correct the problems with the contour by scratching on sandpaper on a string. For this method to work best in my opinion, one should stop filing i, m & a finger nails altogether, and let the nail shapes be determined by the scratching process. For me this means rather steep ramps for i and m fingers (approx. 30 degrees), and a more shallow ramp for 'a' finger that starts to level off at the middle point of the nail edge. Because of the ball-like shape of the right hand, the angles for i and m finger that the string "sees" are actually quite a bit shallower (those fingers will be slanted towards the fretboard). Another interesting effect that the scratching method has had on my i finger nail, is that the left edge of the ramp is a bit higher (away from the guitar top) than the right edge, so the ramp itself is a bit slanted, so that the picking angle seen by the string is a bit more perpendicular than the angle of the finger itself. This compensates for the angle of the flexing movement of the finger, which is slightly towards the right side of the hand compared to 'm' or 'a' fingers, so at least i and m finger nail ramps will contact the string at roughly same angle despite their difference in movement direction.
As most of my string catching problems tend to happen at (near) perpendicular picking angles, that kind of picking angle is where I have been concentrating my scratching efforts lately, with the emphasis on rest stroke. That puts the pressure more evenly on the whole length of the nail edge. Also because I need to keep the sandpaper in place with my left hand, gripping the string beneath the sandpaper firmly, I haven't felt the need to depress the string vertically. This of course means that the "scratch stroke" is a bit different compared to actual stroke, because the string does not have any (or very little) give. It also means that the applied pressure (and hence the amount of abrasion) can be controlled with finger muscles for various stages of the "stroke". Because my nails curve downwards at the middle or right side of the nail (probably the regions that grow fastest), I tend to increase the pressure towards the end of the "stroke", which actually happens quite automatically when fighting the middle joint's tendency to rise away from the string (because the string does not give in, as it normally does).
Finally, I've noticed that it's relatively important to work on a,m&i at the same time, doing for example ami pattern on the string (I use the 1st string), because that allows me to compare the resistance of individual fingers while scratching away, so I can concentrate on the finger(s) giving the most resistance.
After 6 weeks of doing this, I'm still perfecting this method for myself, trying to see what works and minimize the time spent on scratching and buffing, so the method is by no means a "fool proof" automatic problem solver, but even with all the variables with the implementation of the method, I'm surprised by the consistency of the results and happy with the tone I have achieved. As with guitarist nails always, lots of experimentation is required, and there are no guarantees that this method will work for everyone. If one does not like ramped nail shapes, this method clearly won't work as the only means of maintaining the nail length and shape. If very short nails are preferred, there are probably easier ways for maintaining them. At least for me this method allows for longer nails (both the actual nail length, and the length of the ramp) than would be possible otherwise, which makes my playing very comfortable, and allows for better control of tone than short nails.