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How To: Ping Pong Ball Nails with Dr. Robert Gibson
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Dr. Robert Gibson is a dedicated

performer, teacher and advocate of new music.  He has performed as a soloist and chamber musician at venues around the United States as well as in Mexico and Italy.  Dr. Gibson has also performed as a soloist with several orchestras including the San Antonio Symphony.  As a proponent of new, Robert has worked at length with composers on writing for the guitar and has performed world premiers for the music of Donald Grantham, James Norman, Traci Mendel, and Sir Anthony Hopkins to name a few.







  1. A high quality ping-pong ball.  I must stress the importance of having a professional grade ball.  Inexpensive balls are too thin and will not generate enough resistance as you move through the string.  The result will be a thin, weak and brittle sound.  I use the Nataku 3 Star Premium.
  2. Superglue. Not all superglues are created equal.  It is crucial to have glue that will hold the nail sufficiently.  I have found that Gorilla superglue and Elmer’s superglue work the best.
  3. Scissors.  I prefer small scissors with a sharp point at the end.
  4. Nail Clippers
  5. Nail paper or other nail buffing device
  6. Glue Accelerator (For example, a product called Cherry Rap Dry works well, however this is optional.)



  1. Cut the ping-pong ball in half along the rib (the reinforcement that goes around the circumference of the ball).  Cut this rib out of the ball on both halves.
  2. Cut a square, about 1 inch in diameter from one of the halves.  (The size of this square should be slightly larger than you natural nail.)



  1. Cut a half moon shape into the square.  This half moon cut should be just about the size and shape of your natural nail. You may want to trace this shape onto the square before you cut to help ensure greater precision.  It is better to underestimate the size of the cut.  This will allow you to adjust the size of the half moon cut later if you need to expand on this size.


  1. Slide this under your existing nail to make sure that it fits (your natural nail should be relatively short, but long enough to attach a ping-pong ball).  You may need to adjust the size of the cut. 
  2. Apply a thin lining of superglue along the top of the ping-pong nail.  The glue should be applied to the exterior portion of the ball.



  1. Slide this under your nail and hold it in place with your other hand until the ping-pong nail is secure. 



  1. Apply another thin layer of glue on the top where the natural and artificial nails connect.
  2. You can either let the glue dry over several minutes or you can spray the glue accelerator to speed up the drying process.
  3. After the glue has dried, you can then cut away some of the excess ping-pong nail with clippers.  Shape the artificial nail so that it approximates your desired nail shape.



  1. Shape the nail with your file to your desired length and shape.  If there is    excess glue on the top of the nail, you should file it down as well.




  1.  Finally, polish your nail and play.

The life of a ping-pong nail varies depending on how well you take care of your nails and the growth rate of your natural nail.  When your natural nail grows out, it will be necessary to change the nail.  If you take care of your nails, you may get a week or two out of them.  However, you should reapply small amounts of glue to portions of the ping-pong that begin to separate from the nail.  This will extend the life of the ping-pong nail.  


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